Lagos Trade Fair
By Crusoe Osagie
Six years after relocating from Idumota to its ‘Super Plaza’ inside the International Trade Fair Complex along Lagos-Badagry Express Road, the Association of Progressive Traders of Nigeria (APT) has expanded in size and in activities, with the biggest jewelry and accessories market in Africa opening at the complex.
The APT President, Chief Jude Okeke, who revealed this during their 6th anniversary celebration in Lagos, also hinted that the current value of the jewelry edifice is over N18 billion, while the traders’ population is now above ten thousand.
“As you can see, this is the APT Super Plaza. It is a whole sale market where you find the best and finest grades of jewelry and accessories at cheapest prices. So far the market is worth more than N18 billion in terms of buildings and infrastructures, and we are still expanding. Work will soon begin at our new office complex and everything here is world standard.
“Our members have grown above ten thousand and we still have enough space for showcasing our goods, warehousing, parking lots, shopping and vehicular movement etc. Our business is flourishing and members are all happy. No wonder we call here our own promised land.”
The concession of Trade Fair Complex to Aulic Nigeria Limited is however a major challenge facing the traders at the moment. According to APT’s Secretary-General, Obiora Chijioke, the traders are contesting the fraudulent acquisition of Lagos International Trade Fair Complex with no regard to their multibillion investments which existed long before the concession.
“We had an agreement with the then Federal Ministry of Trade and Commerce that the already commercialised portions should be excluded from privatisation. Despite all efforts by the consortium of traders operating in the complex which include Balogun Business Association, Auto Spare Parts And Machineries Dealers Association, Association of Progressive Traders, Call Park Ventures, Lakeview Hotel, and other stakeholders, to receive fair hearing during the concession exercise, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) still went ahead and sold the entire complex to Aulic Nigeria Limited.
“Their aim is to colonise and enslave over sixty thousand Nigerian traders and their huge investments at the complex, which is worth more than N85 billion. We are calling on the Federal Government to please protect our rights as responsible and law abiding citizens of the country, by reviewing this fraudulent acquisition of Lagos Trade Fair Complex by Aulic Nigeria Limited”, he added.
The APT image maker, Uche Chinweze, listed bad access roads, illegal check points by the police and customs, as well as dilapidated infrastructures within the Trade Fair Complex among the current challenges of the market.
“Our relationship with the state and local government are very cordial. But the new management of the complex is not helping matters. Despite all the revenue collected daily from the traders and our customers, nothing is done to reduce our sufferings, at least by upgrading the roads and infrastructure within the Trade Fair Complex,” he added.
The association’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief John Arinze, recalled the harsh trading environment at Idumota and the need to support the decongestion programme of the Lagos State Government, which, according to him, compelled the traders to start looking for a new site.
“The Association of Progressive Traders was formed in 1998 in order to free ourselves from the menace of shylock landlords, area boys, and insecurity of goods and customers. This led to the search for a new site under the leadership of our pioneer president Chief Ifeanyi Anekwe who acquired, developed and moved the market to this place. He successfully handed over the leadership of this market to the present regime in December 2010 and the new team has also performed very well.”