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ONITSHA — IGBO traders and businessmen have cried out over what they described as the recent harsh economic policies introduced by the Federal Government, saying that such policies were allegedly introduced to cripple their businesses across the country. A vox pop conducted by the South East Voice across the five states of the region showed that the traders were angry with the Federal Government for introducing the $5,000 Basic Traveling Allowance, BTA, as well as for making Kano State the “clearing house for all imported goods in the country.”
Those, who spoke at separate interviews, also, faulted the ban on importation of certain commodities like shoes and other agricultural products. They said that efforts should have been made to encourage local producers instead of banning them without warning.
The Ogirishi of Igboland, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, who spoke in Onitsha, said that although it was good for the government to ban the importation of furniture, toothpicks and rice, among others, the policy should have been carried out in phases to enable local producers come to terms with the situation.
“It is an insult to import textiles into this country while our textile industries are not flourishing. But the current government policies are targeted at suppressing Ndigbo as a race. Such policies include the current clamp-down on foreign exchange and making Kano the clearing ground for imported goods. How can one leave Port Harcourt or Lagos and travel to the extreme north to clear his goods? These are wrong policies because they will discourage local and foreign investments.
“In the same vein, the Buhari’s regime is not observing the constitutional provisions for federal character in political appointments. The government is also discriminating against Ndigbo in the area of execution of projects as the South East Zone is excluded in the provision of social amenities. This is very bad.
Buhari should focus on achieving uninterrupted electricity supply. The government should even encourage building of indigenous private refineries rather than relying on the oil cabals, who are deceiving the government and making life unbearable for the entire citizenry, Onwuka who is also the proprietor of Rojenny Sports Resort, said.
In his contribution, Chief Gilbert Bravo Obi, chairman, Nigerian Importers Association, Anambra State branch said: “We heard that President Buhari wants to transfer the clearing house for all imported goods to Kano. Since he assumed office, traders have not been finding things easy. There is no more importation business in Nigeria, and you know, that majority of importers are Ndigbo.
However, I must emphasize that it is still too early to draw a conclusion that Buhari’s policies are either favourable to Ndigbo or not, or that they are favourable to business environment or not. At Nnewi, the Publicity Secretary of Anambra State Traders Association, Dede Uzor Uzor said that, “the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has stayed for over six months now, adding that it had hit him adversely as a businessman.
“The economic policies of the present administration has affected me personally; as a businessman, who trades on textile materials and pharmaceutical products. The administration introduced the policy of $5,000 as BTA. That means that you can only travel outside Nigeria with only $5,000. Tell me how a trader, who imports from overseas can survive with such amount of money. It is not possible for a trader to survive with that amount, after paying over N200, 000 for your air ticket.
“The government knows those siphoning money to their overseas bank accounts, but has left them to pounce on ordinary traders, who are doing their businesses in order to hamper their operations. The other time about seven Onitsha main market traders were arrested and their money seized because of their alleged involvement in money laundering. What money laundering? “Tell me how a trader can survive in this present administration with this policy of $5,000 as BTA?
“So, the government of President Buhari is not helping traders. This government is killing us, quote me. The traders are crying, so he should review the policy because it is affecting everybody. Nigerians are suffering because of that policy, because if it does not affect you as a trader or importer, it will affect you as a consumer.
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