By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
The Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Trade and Market Matters, Mr Idorenyin Raphael, has disclosed that Akwa Ibom State is the only state that gives traders the liberty and freedom to operate.
He made the disclosure during a reception ceremony organised for him by traders at the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Women Development Centre, IBB Avenue, Uyo on Thursday.
Mr Idoreyin reminded the traders that Governor Emmanuel has fulfilled his campaign promises to the traders having created the office of Special Assistant on Trade Matters, provided traders with buses and interest-free loan.
“Akwa Ibom State is the only state that gives freedom to traders. I’ve witnessed what other states are doing and I’ve discovered that there is no governor that contributes up to N500,000 to traders, but Governor Emmanuel has given N2 billion interest-free loan in which about 18,000 traders have benefited, three buses and declares every Thursday ticket-free day to the traders.
“Taxation in the market has reduced drastically. Ticketing has reduced in some markets like Ibesikpo which used to collect N300 but now N100; Akpan Andem is now N100 as against the initiation N500; Itam Market used to collect N1,200 but it has been reduced to N600; Ikot Ekpene which used to be N400 is now N100; and Ibiono which used to be N150 is now N50. The amazing part of it is that on Thursdays, nobody enters the markets to collect ticketing. Every Thursday is declared ticket-free day.”
Speaking further, the Governor’s Aide said: “If I’m to unveil what the governor has for traders in the state, you wouldn’t want to do business again. He said he is governor for the traders. A trader has been sworn in as Chairman of Ukanafun Local Government.
“Governor Emmanuel is the only governor for this time of recession. He manages money, human behaviour and knows what to do and how to adjust during hardship. He has released interest-free loan to traders.
“Gone are the days when traders were considered hopeless. It is wrong to appoint someone from the park to manage marketers’ revenue after marketers had given their full support to the government. It is only a trader who knows and understands the problems of the traders that can collect revenue to the government.
“About 10 lawyers have been made available for the traders. Any Local Government official that harasses any trader won’t be paid his/her revenue and that market will not pay revenue any more. The taxation law says that where you generate revenue, you need to use 40 per cent of that revenue for the development of that place..
“The governor has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with agro allied company to establish a cattle ranch in Uruan Local Government Area to ease the stress of going to other states to buy cows. He has also opened a livestock market in the area.
“The traders have grouped themselves to establish a traders’ microfinance bank which will come up early next year. They have formed themselves into cooperative association, union and society.”
The Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT), Abuja chapter, Prince (Alhaji) Haruna Yusuf, called on all governors of the 36 states of the federation to emulate the interest-free loan of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, to traders.
In his words, “We came here to access the pace of preparedness of Akwa Ibom traders integrated into our national fold. We are happy with what we saw here.
“I was marvelled when I heard about the achievement of Governor Udom Emmanuel within a very short space of time especially the interest-free loan to the traders. It has helped them (the traders) a lot in capacity building. It is a wonderful thing that other state governors should emulate.”
Alhaji Haruna charged the traders to give their maximum corporation to the government, and that they should unite together irrespective of gender, noting that “a broom can only sweep better when they are together. There is strength in unity.”
Present at the occasion were Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mr Essien Ndueso; National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT) Publicity/Mobilisation Committee Secretary, Comrade Austine Njeakor; Women Mobilisation Director, NANT, Princess Oluchi Atu; and Secretary General, Akwa Ibom Traders Union, Akparawa Effiong Ekpenyong to mention but a few.
Highpoints of the event included presentation of award and gift items to the Governor’s Aide such as life goats and other food items, drama and Dakkada Creed recitation where N10,000 was given to the trader who recited the creed.