Determined to resolve the lingering crisis over the concessioningÂ of the Lagos Trade Fair Complex, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Abubakar Mohammed, has appealed to the aggrieved traders to remain patient, saying that the Federal Government is working hard to ensure that the problemÂ is resolved amicably.
Mohammed, who representedÂ the Commerce and Industry Minister, Chief Achike Udenwa, made the assurance in Lagos after being conducted round by the leaders of the traders.
HeÂ said he was taken aback by the hugeÂ investment the traders haveÂ put in the area, adding that he was directed by the acting president to meet with the traders to chart the way forward in respect of all the challenges facing them.
â€œThe acting president said go, discuss and try to resolve those issues that you can resolve, any outstanding issue report back to me. So, we came with open mind to discuss this issue to the benefit of the government, concessionaire as well as the other stake holders, he stated.â€
The permanent secretary,Â however, said it was unfortunate that his team wasÂ not well received by Holic, the Trade Fair ComplexÂ concessionaire, adding that in the course of deliberation with the director,Â he walked away from the delegation and also directed his staff to do so.
He noted that the Bureau for Public EnterprisesÂ might have possibly made a mistake in the initial agreement signed with Holic but said they later realized their mistake andÂ retraced their step, stressing that as government delegation they recognized such action was taken .
He urged the traders to remain calm emphasizing that violence is not the solution. â€œThose behind Holic company are Nigerians, so also you traders and government . So we must live together as one.The progress of the country is the responsibility of all as government cannot do without the private sector and it is determined to provide the right environment for businesses to thrive.â€
Mohammed assured that the team would send their report to the acting president who had directed them to wade into the crisis adding that due process must be followed by all parties until the issues is resolved by the government.
Also, speaking at on behalf of the traders, the chairman of Trade Fair Stakeholders Association, chief Sunny Ohanazoeze, pointed out that for decades now, they have invested billions of naira in the market stressing that the traders would resist any attempt by any body parading himself as their new managers as according to him, there is no way that someone would invest and another would reap from where he did not invest .
â€œWe donâ€™t want anybody to manage us as we are capable of managing ourselves. We donâ€™t have enough land to even expand our businesses.â€
The traders alleged that bidding process that saw Holic company emerging as the new concessionaire of trade fair complex was questionable as it lacked the merit to do that adding that since the crisis the company has consistently violate court orders because itâ€™s owner is close to those in power.
The traders warned that if the problems ofÂ incessant harassment, and extortion by the concessionaire particularly on customers is not urgently addressed by the federal governmentÂ things might go out of hand. According to them about 250 individuals have invested heavily to make the market one of the biggest and most organized trading environment in west Africa and wondered why a place which employs over a million people would be thrown into confusion by just one person.
â€œWe would not be alive to allow them have our properties go down the drain..The only solution is for Holic to tell us how much he has invested so far and we are ready to refund him. Our lease agreement run for 50 years for another 50Â years. Holic concessioning agreement will only run for 30years. So, there is no how a man with 30 years will manage a man with hundred years.â€