It is no longer news that the closure of Nigerian borders would affect traders generally, especially the ones that import goods/wares, but what is news is the effect of the development on the on-going Lagos International Trade Fair organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Several foreign exhibitors, who spoke with Nairametrics in separate interviews, said that the efforts of the Federal Government would boost patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products/services. They, however, argued that the interests of foreign traders exhibiting at the international fair were not considered.
According to them, preferences should have been given to the exhibitors in order to ease the burden of spending fortunes to importing their goods into the country.
A dealer in malaria prevention products and Chief Executive Officer, Exa Ventures, Doris Adoboe, called on the government to open the borders as she said it was affecting her sales.
She made known that apart from the fact that coming down for the fair wasn’t an easy feat, she had not been able to sell her products effectively because of the border closure.
Another exhibitor, Managing Director, Julicraft Creations, Juliet Anane, the producer of beads and garments based in Ghana, lamented that the border closure was terrible and narrated her encounter with the customs officials while coming to the fair.
She said, “The closure is very terrible they seized our goods, there were many challenges we faced coming here, they seized the goods and later returned them. The way they embarrassed us is not good even our dummies and everything, when we got to the station they said they aren’t taking any goods in.
“Apart from the one brought from the cargo, no dummy nothing else was allowed in. They said the border is closed. Meanwhile, your chamber sent us an invitation to come so it was a whole embarrassment here why would you invite me to come to trade Fair when I cannot bring all my goods in.”
Did the closure affect the exhibitions?
There is no guarantee if the border closure affected patronage on the part of exhibitors, but going by traders’ experience while trying to bring in their goods to the trade fair, Nairametrics understands that many of them faced different challenges just to ensure their goods were available for the fair and even at that, they were unable to bring all their goods.
Recall that Nairametrics had reported when the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) called on the Nigeria customs and Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to consider opening the borders for exhibitors coming to the fair from other West African countries.
Despite the challenges faced by exhibitors due to the border closure, many of them came in from Japan, Ghana, Cameroun, Ethiopia, among others. They were spotted bringing in goods, setting them up and putting finishing touches to their boots, stands and exhibition pavilions from furniture, to appliances, African fabrics, natural ingredients and so on.
Present at the International Trade Fair opening ceremony was the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat who restated that the vision of the fair was to promote trade and bilateral relations as well as creating favourable business conditions for all stakeholder in the country. He also praised the LCCI for being consistent with the fair over the past years.
He made known that the fair had been providing Lagos with marketing support through trade networking and he assured that the Lagos State Government would continue to be a partner so as to ensure that business empowerment is made more conducive for business and investment to thrive in the state.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) boss, Babatunde Ruwase, during his address urged the government to create the right economic policies that would boost investors’ confidence in the country.
He said that no economy could thrive without a good composition of trade and commerce. Hence, he called on the government to create more opportunities for its rapidly growing population.
The LCCI President also advised the government to support the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises which would, in turn, drive employment.