By Onozure Dania
THE Balogun Market branch of dealers of bags and leather wear association of Nigeria recently embarked on a protest march against some Chinese business men who they accused of undermining and killing their businesses. Speaking during the protest, the national Chairman of the association, Mr Azubike Nwachukwu , said Nigerian dealers have been operating at a loss since the Chinese business men started retail selling of the leather products at a very cheap price.
Nwachucku, who informed that his members have been facing this problem for the past five years, said the protest was geared towards reminding these Chinese business men that the main reason the Federal Government permitted them to operate in Nigeria was so that they will build industries and create employment for the people.
He told Vanguard Metro, VM, that his association’s previous overtures for dialogue so that the contending issues can be resolved amicably were rebuffed by the Chinese business men, adding: “The Chinese people don’t always show up each time we call for dialogue, claiming instead that they are also citizens of Nigeria, but whenever immigration officers come to the market, they would close all their offices and go into to hiding”.
He also told VM that his association was still open to dialogue even after the protest, saying the ball is presently in the court of the Chinese business men who should in their own interest come forward for dialogue which will then open up the process that will bring about their going back to their country to bring the needed machines to set up industries in Nigeria.
Also speaking during the protest, the Vice Chairman of the Bags and Leather Wear Dealers Association of Nigeria, Mr Tobechukwu Obiedo, said they want government to come to their aid. According to him: “We embarked on this protest to draw the attention of government to what is going on.
Our union is made up of more than 1,200 members. We’re telling government that if the action of these Chinese people is not checked, we and members of our families will no longer have any source of living”. He added that no sensible Nigerian government official should allow that to happen, adding: “So let the immigration and the appropriate authorities come in and do some thing”.
Obiedo also told VM that Nigerian business men and women travel to China and comply with their operating laws and business practices there, adding that the least expected of Chinese business men is to do the same when they are in Nigeria.
Efforts by VM to reach the Nigerian representative of the said Chinese business men, one Mrs Nwagbo, proved abortive as she was said to have travelled to China.