Pete Ibida member representing Njikoka II constituency in the Anambra state House of Assembly current Chairman House Committee on local government and chieftaincy matter and past committee Chairman on Trade and Commerce
WHAT was the situation in this sector in 1991?
Anambra State is growing but it’s not growing exponentially the way it should have been, because Anambra is known for trade and commerce all over the world and any where you go in the world, you have full representation of Anambra indigenes in the trade and commerce.
They are shining everywhere and that is why, when I came in here and I was made the Chairman, House Committee on Trade, Commerce and Industry, I made a motion on the floor of the House that Anambra Government should build permanent International Trade Fair Center for the three chambers of commerce, Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha. Of course, they started doing that but I don’t know how far they have gone.
Our people are known for trading. When I went to Port Harcourt Borrowed Park, where they used for the same trade fair, I discovered that almost 70 per cent of people that have stands there are from Anambra and when I came back here, I noticed that we don’t have it here. Ii’s very ironical that we will go out and be making money for other people in other states and enjoying their own facilities and we cannot do it here. We need one here so that other people can migrate into our own and we will have a place to showcase the wares. Even Innoson Motors can come there and showcase his vehicles so that some other African countries and international communities will come and see. It is in that kind of environment that one can showcase his or her wares and products. International Trade and Commerce Center is very important and strategic
From my primary school, I learnt in history that Onitsha Main Market is a legend market in West Africa , but today, I don’t know what is happening. We need to create enabling environment where we continue to further showcase what we are . In 1991, it was stagnant. There was no growth but this time, there is a level of sanity being injected. There is appreciable level of growth in the sector. It is better.
Why is it as it is today?
Our people are not disciplined. I remember when I did the motion as well that people should not trade on the road, but the people continued to display their wares on roads and most times, they experience motors accidents. Some trucks fail break and crush people on the road. At times, it causes go-slow, and even those wares they have on the road, they leave some of the remnants and the next day, it will be smelling everywhere and it becomes a health hazard. It is very unfortunate that we are not as disciplined as we should be and it is a very big problem; a serious albatross, and until will mitigate all these, we remain where we are.
What could be responsible? Why are we not moving in that geometric progression?
Partly government, partly our people. It must not be the government that will do that . The three chambers of commerce can come together and do it but it’s the role of the government to provide the land which I know they have provided but when the chambers don’t have the capital, the government will come in and do what they call private partnership [PP]; because it’s business or the government will build and start collecting revenue from there. Government must get involved, then, the individuals [those chambers) should be more resourceful and know that it is not the government that makes the gain, it is the business owners. So the two parties must synergise and get there; otherwise, it remains moribond
How will it be tomorrow?
I know that we will get there soon.
Is there any parameter you are looking at in trade and commerce in Anambra?
With these Willie’s light [that is the street lights]; it is already an enablement. It is helping for night life to come into Anambra State. There is night life now, and one cannot do trade and commerce well without night life. So that is an enablement, more enablements like that will help to stimulate the economy on trade and commerce, and I tell you, if by the time there is power [electricity], which the present government under Gov Willie Obiano has been battling , though it is not easy because whatever you are doing must end up with national greed and unfortunately as well, it is a private company now,so by the time we have functional power [electricity], you will see a fast growth. It will stimulate and energise the economy [in trade and commerce], like everybody is clamoring that there should be port in River Niger, which is right, but by the time we have one there without electricity, still the system will be too gradual in growing but by the time you have power [electricity]; then you will see subsistence production because our people have the initiative. Up till now, you see a lot of people are still producing in small rooms, like Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi, because of lack of power [electricity]. It is a serious albatross; it is very inimical to the growth of production [trade, commerce and industries]
How do you think the way we are going how will it look like in future.
Until we increase our speed and provide these amenities, I still believe we cannot move. But am very optimistic and futuristic as well that the future is bright because we are producing bright youths.
How do you want trade and commerce to look like in Anambra State?
I want it to look like what we have in western world, where trading is done in very clean environment; such that when you buy something, flies won’t have eaten the whole thing for you before you eat the remnant. Then, the environment will be clean, but you cannot have more where there is no electricity. My prayer is that we are coming after the western world; so as we are coming after them, our governors will appreciate. That is where we are heading. So our target should be to meet the people in front and even overtake them.