February 5, 2018

AMEN seeks FG’s intervention to stop SMEDAN evacuation notice

AMEN seeks FG’s intervention to stop SMEDAN evacuation notice


By Elizabeth Adegbesan

THE Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN) has called on the federal government to intervene in an issue concerning the evacuation notice issued to them by the authorities of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) on January 29, 2018. The President of  AMEN, Mr. Fredrick Nwokeleme made this call on Friday during a press briefing in Lagos.

Nwokeleme said, “I want to use this medium to call on the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Minister of Trade and Investment, Director General of SMEDAN and those who are into small and medium scale businesses to come to our aid on this issue of evacuation from  the Industrial Development Centre (IDC), Ikorodu.

“We are pleading with them that they should erect more clusters in the centre so as to accommodate some of our members that don’t have access to it. Instead of erecting structures they are telling us that they want to renovate the existing structures that my members have borrowed money from financial institutions to renovate. Why can’t they use the money for the renovation to build more clusters knowing that the present administration is clamoring for made-in Nigeria goods?”

The problem, according to Nwokeleme, started from a misunderstanding between the association and the State Coordinator IDC Ikorodu, Mrs. Chinyere Nwoke.

He explained, “We have a place at Ikorodu IDC centre given to us by SMEDAN about five years ago. The centre is about 19 acres of Land which have been encroached by private  individuals and we have about 40 or more local entrepreneurs occupying the centre whose products have been approved by NAFDAC. They borrowed money from financial institutions including Bank Of Industry (BOI) to finance and put the centre in order. We were doing business there without encountering any problem until recently when the State Coordinator, Mrs. Chinyere Nwoke, came demanding for some unwarranted money from us.

“Many of our members have been paying the money without knowing until it came to our notice as executives. We decided to find out where the money was going to. It was then we discovered that the money was not going to the appropriate source which is the government’s purse. We had to write a letter to the SMEDAN authority who replied that the money should be refunded to us.  She  She only refunded that of 2016. That was where our problem started.”

The    letter on the notice of evacuation which was addressed to Nwokeleme of  AMEN and signed by Nwoke stated: “As directed from SMEDAN headquarter, I write to inform you to leave the premises by Friday 9th  of Febuary, 2018 in order to allow the commencement of renovation work of the centre.”

However, Nwokeleme noted that such evacuation and renovation action counter the promise the SMEDAN authorities made to the association before they accomodated the land and it would jeopardize the business and create insecurity in the state.

He said, “Before we commenced activities in Ikorodu the SMEDAN assured us that we will be given enough time if there is need for evacuation but what has happened now is the opposite. The authorities should suspend renovation of the centre in Ikorodu because we have done that. They should instead build clusters for a thousand and one entrepreneurs still out there.

“If SMEDAN should carry out their threat in seven days, where will my members put their machines, how are they going to service the loans they acquired from financial institutions? Some of the entrepreneurs in the centre has fifteen workers each. The total number of employees there is over 100. Last year we were mandated by the Ikorodu local government to employ the indigenes of Ikorodu which we accepted. Most of the badoo incidents experienced in Ikorodu were caused by idleness. What will happen if these employees are pushed outside?”