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Manufacturers lose billions of naira of 75% export-bound perishable produce, want reopening of border

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By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina

NIGERIAN manufactures, under the auspices of the Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), have described as “economic strangulation,” the newly enforced hike in Electricity Tariff and price of Premium Motor Spirit (also known as petrol) by the Federal Government.
The SMEs group urged President Muhammadu Buhari to act as a listening leader that he claimed to be and heed their calling for immediate reversal to status quo, saying the idea of the two hikes are not only counterproductive to the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business Agenda (EDB), but would further impoverish Nigerians and cripple recuperating small businesses that have just survived the COVID 19 shockwaves.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had given his nod to the commencement of the dual hikes, starting from September 1st, 2020, citing “inability of the FG to sustain the payment of fuel subsidy” and the “need to make electricity pricing more competitive so as to allow investors recoup their investment.”
But the Founder and National President of AMEN, Prince Savior Iche, said, if nothing is done urgently, the development would have direct catastrophic effects on his association’s businesses, a conglomeration of over 600 local manufacturers, who immersed themselves in local manufacturing for both internal and external consumptions.
Speaking with newsmen recently, Iche explained that currently, his Lagos-based factory “consume N12,000 Diesel daily, which amounts to about N377,000 monthly, and N3.77million in a year, without any support from the government whatsoever,” and that a further hike would only complicate the situation for his already narrowed profitability.
While admitting that stable electricity is a catalyst to the nation’s industrialization agenda, the National President of AMEN said the essential commodity must however be affordable, to allow Small and Medium Enterprises strive.
According to him, “the Federal Government has promised to give SMEs some Palliatives to cushion the effects of COVID-19 Lockdown. But instead, I would prefer they give me stable and affordable power instead. It is obvious I can’t afford the new hike.”
Calling on Nigerians to rise in unison against the hikes, Iche said the increment have become double jeopardy for local manufacturers with import-bound goods, especially as the Nigerian land borders continued to be closed against its West African neighbors like Republic of Begin, Togo, and Ghana.
According to him, medium scale driven local manufacturers in Nigeria are working hard to help lift millions of unemployed Nigerian youths out of poverty, using the instrumentality of investments, “but how would we succeed in doing this when the government has continually refused to open our land borders, especially against our neighboring countries like Togo, Benin and Ghana? Don’t forget the reason they give was that the closure would help boost local production and create jobs,” he asked rhetorically.
Visibly angry, Iche submitted that most of his colleagues who produce locally only have the 25% of our products consumed locally; and the 75% that are export bound, especially to these countries are perished because of the continuous closure.
“We need to shelve our pride and reopen our borders, for the sake of the millions of unemployed Nigerians. I have been given invite and black checks by the Government of Ghana and The Gambia, the major consumers of my products, to come to their countries and setup factory. They would give me takeoff capital and waivers but on the condition that I would employ their youths.
“My patriotism to build my country would not allow me embrace the mouth-watering offer. But all what our government is good at is to frustrate people who are willing to help and make legitimate earning,” he concluded.
“As it is now, the hike will further implode an already dire situation. And painfully, people that supposed to talk, are keeping quiet. We can’t continue to answer the name we are being given, the most happiest persons in the whole world with Suffering and Smiling Syndrome,” he concluded.