The 30th Enugu International Trade Fair which ended on Monday in Enugu actually depicted the state of the nation’s economy with the absence of big manufacturing concerns and other key players in the private sector.
Our finding was that the event would have been a somewhat flop but for the active participation of many government agencies that used the opportunity to market their services.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s presence at the trade fair also added some verve to the programme.
Notable exhibitors at the fair were the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and some financial institutions.
PenCom took advantage of the fair to enlighten the people of the region on its newest product, the Micro Pension Plan (MPP); which was launched in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 28.
The scheme, expected to significantly expand pension coverage to greater number of Nigerians and further generate additional long term funds for the nation’s economic development; Head, Corporate Communication, Peter Aghahowa, said, targets 30million enrolees from the informal sector by 2024.
Aghahowa described the MPP as a product, specially designed for people who do not have regular income; noting that it is flexible with respect to contribution amount and the channel of remittance of contributions to the respective pension accounts.
He explained that access to accumulated contributions is also flexible, seamless and facilitated by technology through varied payment system platforms.
“It is a unique financial product, which democratizes the savings culture in Nigeria in a systematic and efficient manner. The product also perfectly aligns with the current social empowerment programmes of the Federal Government as it seeks to ensure, in the long term, the sustainability of the benefits of the empowerment programmes for the participants, who may seize this opportunity to save for their old age,” he stated.
The MPP targets the majority of Nigeria’s working population in the informal sector such as market women, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), members of textile, garment and tailoring associations as well as Keke NAPEP and Okada riders associations.
Others are workers in the movie and performing art industry, mechanics and other workers in the automotive industry and single professionals like lawyers, accountants and many others.
Staff of the commission while attending to visitors who thronged their stand urged “Prospective contributors to the Micro Pension Plan who are self-employed in the informal sector or working in organizations with three or less staff are free to approach any pension fund administrator of their choice for registration.”
For NIMASA, its special day on April 12, with the topic “Cargo support initiative and transport logistics for non-oil export trade” was clearly in harmony with the theme of this year’s trade fair: “Promoting and enhancing value addition in the oil and non-oil sectors of the economy for the robust economic growth and development”.
Declared open by Governor Ugwuanyi, the agency said the maritime sector was a critical component for effective economic diversification, which is a major policy thrust of the Buhari administration.
Mr Victor Onuzulike who represented the DG of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, regretted that Nigeria is yet to optimize its comparative advantage in the non-oil cargoes, oil and gas cargoes as well as the government and international aid generated cargoes.
President of Enugu Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Emeka Udeze, appreciated the role of NIMASA in developing the nation’s economy.
“No doubt, the quantum of importation of goods through shipping in our coastal lines; have greatly boosted trade, industry and commerce and without the critical role being played by NIMASA, this would not have been possible,” Udeze said.
He also had nice extolled the CBN under its governor, Godwin Emefiele. “We are not unmindful of the various intervention schemes of the Central Bank of Nigeria to support and encourage the growth of business in various sectors of the economy. These include the anchor borrowers’ schemes, the plans to encourage palm oil cultivation and processing, the support for the textile industry etc.,” he said.
ECCIMA President however, urged the apex bank not be derailed by its intervention with various schemes, to the detriment of its core values of regulating the banking and financial sector.
Small scale businesses especially those selling household items and edibles also made some sales at the fair.