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Economic recession: Who are the beneficiaries…?

Recession

Recession

It appears the Nigerian recessed economy has become the case of ‘one man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune.’ While some Nigerians, especially the private and public sector workers are complaining of the hardship orchestrated by the poor economy, some of the entrepreneurs, farmers and skilled labourers are actually experiencing boom in their businesses. This is because of the forex crisis and rising inflation, which has compelled many Nigerians to resort to homemade products for survival. It would be recalled that before the economic recession, Nigeria became a dumping ground for all kinds of imported products; a development that almost killed the local industries. Today, the reverse is becoming the case. Even though, it is not yet uhuru for operators of these local industries, they however seem to be faring better than others.

‘We Have Been Experiencing Good Patronage’
Engr. Vita Abba is an engineer and Chief Executive Officer, Vee-Tek Nigeria Limited, an Aba, Abia State-based switchgears and electrical services company. In 2003, he left his lucrative business to join politics.

While in partisan politics, he served as the Enugu State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for eight years. In 2015, he contested for the PDP House of Representatives for Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency and lost.

Instead of continuing to hang around the corridors of power, Abba went back to his business and expanded it from a servicing company to production. He did this by establishing a subsidiary of his company in Enugu in along Enugu-Onitsha road, just close to Enugu New Market.

Speaking to The Guardian on the recessed economy, Aba said: “I have always a seen future in the productive industry even though power has always been a problem. That is why, when I left politics and I decided to establish this production company. We are producing PVC pipes, electrical installations and fittings. We have been experiencing good patronage, considering the state of the economy now. We have customers within and outside the Southeast zone.

“We have in our employment 55 engineers and other menial workers. We just took delivery of another set of industry machineries last year. We are installing them now. We will be producing another set of electrical fittings with it. We are looking forward for more expansion.

“Our products are everywhere. You cannot move to any power project without seeing a switch of our company. It is very efficient. We have technical partners in Spain. We manufacture good products. They may not be the best, but people who use them attest to the fact that they are really good.”

In terms of local content and how the company has thrived with the economic situation of the country the ex-PDP boss said: “In specific terms, if you talk about switches which we do in Aba, the major raw materials are sourced abroad, so also the PVC we produce in Enugu. Other components are readily available.”

‘Price Of Palm Oil Has Doubled And Demand For It Has Increased’
Madam Ulodiaku Nwogbu is a 50 year-old subsistence farmer in Ikolo community of Igbo-Etiti Local Council of Enugu State. She has a palm-trees plantation that she operates with her late husband.

Annually from the plantation, she produces good palm oil in large quantity, even though the product was not selling at a high price. Sometimes, she would store the product in drums waiting for the price to increase before she sells.

As of December last year, Nwogbu had more than 30 drums of palm oil in store.

Speaking on the local palm oil boom, Nwogbu disclosed that she was amazed with the rate the price of the product soared.

She said: “Before now palm oil was not selling well. The only solace I had then was that I don’t buy it, but I produce it from my palm trees plantation, though we spend hours and days in processing it locally.

“Today, the price of the product has doubled and the demand for it has become high. If it would continue like this, I wouldn’t mind to be praying for the recession to continue. I have made good money for the first time from the sale of palm oil.

“One of the companies producing cream in Aba was here to buy palm oil from me. I was surprised when the manager of the company did not argue the price of the product. The only thing the man asked was if I produced it locally. I am planning to expand the plantation and replace some palm trees that are weak and old this season. I will employ workers in the farm.”

‘The Recessed Economy Is A Blessing In Disguise For Me’
Uche Alozie is an Aba-based tailor who specialises in sewing shirts and jumpers. His shop is located at No 50 Asa Road by Tenant Road.

Alozie disclosed that since the economic recession hit Nigeria, he has been experiencing boom for the first time in his business, despite the increase in the cost of materials and production.

“I was surprised with the caliber of customers that are patronising me now. Most times, I sleep in the shop to enable me satisfy my customers. I have not seen many of them, because they usually send their measurements after choosing materials from the pictures I sent to them through social media.

“Before now I sewed a shirt for N1200, but presently I do it with N2000 and I have more orders now than I did before. It seems I am benefitting from the recessed economy. I have been having high patronage. I thank God for it. I nearly missed travelling to the village for Christmas last year because of the pressure of work. Since I returned from the holidays, I have not rested. I can say that the economic recession is a blessing in disguise for me,” Alozie said.

Businesses Booms Despite Recession
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos

There is no doubt that businessmen and women, including individuals, are feeling the effect of the hydra-headed economic recession.

However, in the midst of it all, some business people are not as adversely affected as most individuals. One of such businessmen who is not feeling the pang of recession is a renowned Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Danjuma Grace, owner the Danjuma Grace Press Limited, Jos.

According to Grace, he is into all kinds of jobs that have to do “with table calendars, wall calendars, invitation cards, wedding cards, and all forms of occasions that would require souvenirs, T – shirt, face caps and whatever has to do with printing. That is my job.”

He said that the economic crunch does not so much affect his business because those things he prints are of necessity. “You know that weddings cannot stop in this era whether there is paucity of funds or not. People marry and are given in marriage. Ceremonies and occasions both in government and private sectors cannot stop.

“You cannot organise ceremonies without invitations. You cannot organise weddings without cards, even Non – Governmental Organisation (NGOs) who organise themselves may have to prepare souvenirs like T– shirts, face caps, banners and so on. And because of what is going on in the printing world, printing cannot cease. That is why recession cannot deter us.

“Of course, we are aware that recession has affected the cost of materials for printing, but so long as people are interested in what they want, big time business people will want to use flyers and posters to sell their products. You can see that we are a rallying point for any form of activities going on in terms of business.”

Grace said that even though government has stopped the printing of calendars in its circle, there are private organisations that cannot do without calendars. “Even there are still few government organisations who print calendars and the only thing is that the number of copies have reduced.”

On the impact of the recession on his business, he said that definitely, it affected his business in the sense that “if you are printing 1000 copies of calendars in the past when there was no recession, you discover that customers will be asking for 400 or 300 copies because the more the quantities you print, the more money, the more returns you get. Now that the quantity has reduced it also affects us. And again, some of the printing materials are imported. Also there is difficulty in getting dollars to import materials. Those are some of the challenges we are facing.”

‘Panic Buying By Customers Has Made Us Richer’
From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
Emeka Durumba, an Engineer by profession, is the Managing Director of Ugodurumba Enterprises Limited and the Secretary of Rotibi United Traders Association, Owerri, Imo State, manufacturers and key representatives of many manufacturing companies. In a chat with Charles Ogugbuaja in Owerri, he informed that panic buying to stockpile products has improved his business.

How has is been with your business this period of recession?
Well, actually this period we are facing very turbulent situation because of the economic condition in the country. Basically because the purchasing power of individuals are going down everyday. So, the market is not how it used to be like before.

We are actually making sales this period because customers envisage that there would be price increases in the market. They are doing what we call panic buying; people just buy to keep, pending when the companies will increase their prices. In the past, we noticed that at the beginning of every year, prices normally go up. The current trend now is that dollar is going up everyday and companies find it difficult to get foreign exchange. As a result, prices go up; that’s why there is panic buying just to stock. What I don’t know is where they are getting this money? The trend is on the upper side; people are buying heavily to stock because price increase must surely come.

How about you?
For us, we are still expecting price increase, because it must definitely come. But when it comes, we don’t know, so that is why we keep on buying to stock.

In the past, we were taken unawares. If you don’t have stock, and prices go up, it means that your working capital will go down. You still use the same capital to go buy lesser quantity of what you normally buy. That is why everybody keeps on buying so that if there is increase in prices, you make sure you have stock in your warehouse.

I am into wholesale distributorship. I represent lots of companies in Imo State here. Promasidor started business in 1993. We joined them. We have joined Nestle for over 30 years. They started over 50 years ago.

What’s your advise to the public?
The advice I have now is that people at the helm of affairs should see what they can do to bring the economy back to where it used to be. If this trend continues, I don’t know, maybe it will get to one dollar to N1,000. They should find a way and revert to status quo; dollar exchange rate used to be N197. If we can go to that level again, things will actually normalise.

Salaries of workers have not increased; I don’t know how they are managing, coping with this situation now. Pensioners in this state have not been paid; they are crying everyday. All these actually affect businesses, because if they are paid salaries, we can live comfortably.

For Ebonyi Rice Farmers, Recession Turns To Boom, From Nnamdi Akpa, Abakaliki
Following the boom in harvest and sales of Ebonyi State rice, farmers in the state have commenced dry season rice farming. Even as the majority of the people are complaining about recession, rice farmers and rice dealers in the state are celebrating the recession, following the rise in price of rice due to the demand.

A 100kg bag of paddy rice that previously sold for N12, 000 now sells for N28, 000 while one bushel of milled rice now goes for N8,000 as against N3,500.

One of the officials of Abakaliki Rice Millers Association, who craved anonymity, told The Guardian that the prices of rice increased due to the economic recession coupled with massive rush by people to buy rice.

“Remember the state government placed ban on foreign rice and with the rumour about plastic foreign rice in the country, which also triggered high demand for rice, mostly Abakaliki rice.

“Many people across the country were coming to Abakaliki to buy rice and even our mills production could not satisfy our numerous customers.

“I am pleading with the state government to sustain its current programmes on rice production because I see many people going into rice farming.

“Am appealing to government to mop up the excesses through preservation so that there will be enough product until April when the product would be scarce in the new season.

“We do not want a repeat of previous experiences, that we had much food waste due to our inability to preserve the excesses,” he appealed.

He urged government to take pragmatic steps that would encourage farmers to increase their outputs to boost food sufficiency in the country.

Mr Okenwa Obia, a rice seller at the market, said the price of rice soared due to the ban of foreign rice by the state government coupled with the rush for the commodity within and outside the state.

“The demand for local rice is now high, no one is asking for foreign rice again, everyone now wants to eat Ebonyi rice and people are coming from different parts of the country to buy Ebonyi rice, we are happy for the development, we are making quick sales and profits,” he said.

A rice farmer, Okey, said that, though the economy recession is ravaging the country yet it is a boom for rice farmers in the State.

“Farmers in Ebonyi state are happy, we made enough profits from the sale of our rice we harvested and we are appealing to state government to sustain its rice programme” he noted.

The State government provided farmers with incentives which includes agro chemicals, fertilizers, selective and non selective herbicides and seedlings at interest free rates and we farmers are happy with the development,” he added.

Showbiz Industry Weathering The Storm
By Chuks Nwanne
Normally, entertainment business generally does well during a downturn. Even as other sectors in Nigeria continued to witness low patronage as a result of poor economy, the showbiz industry seems to be weathering the storm, as practitioners found ways to keep the industry afloat. Though not as robust as it used to be, the show went on; people smiled to the banks.

According to Hamza Idris Kutigi of Temple management, “One thing about this industry is that, whether you are having a recession or you are doing well, the creative industry always flourishes; it’s just like the food industry. If you go back to the ancient times, whenever there’s recession, they always found time to organise events,” he said.

Though Kutigi agrees that it might contract, the impact of recession of the entertainment industry will not be as much as it is with other sectors.

“The creative industry has an infinite ability to create employment in the sense that all it takes is your God- given talent. You might not be a good singer, but you might be a good writer. You might not be a good footballer, but you might be a good coach. So, there’s a whole value chain in the creative industry that, if it’s structured, if it has the support, if it has necessary funding will create so much employment. That’s what has helped the United States; everybody wants to be a rapper, a basket baller and it is organised to the grassroots level,” he noted.

Two weeks to Christmas, the city of Lagos was agog with events and concerts featuring musicians, comedians, DJs and other players in the showbiz industry, who work behind he scene. From Copa Lagos to Rhythm Unplugged, Alibaba January 1st Concert, Olamide Live In Concert, Headies Award, KSA @ 70 Gig, Afropolitan Vibes Festival, Heartbeat The Musical, Beat FM Christmas Concert, Industry Nite Grand Finale… Eko rocked all through the Yuletide, despite the recession. Even Lagos State Government hosted the second edition of the One Lagos Festival, with a long list of Nigerian entertainers that performed at five different locations in the city.

Even outside Lagos, which is considered the entertainment capital of Nigeria, the scene was vibrant, with entertainers thrilling fun lovers at different joints and events. At least, for a month, the city of Calabar, Cross River State capital, hosted the world for the 2016 edition of the Carnival Calabar. From December 1 till 31, there were entertainment activities at the Cultural Centre, Tinapa, Millennium Park and Stadium, with top rated Nigerian artistes on parade.

In Anambra, Capital Oil boss Ifeanyi Uba also staged a special concert in December. The event, which featured musical performances by leading musicians, also had some top Nollywood stars in attendance; similar events were hosted in other parts of the country.

Though there was obvious low corporate sponsorship for filmmakers last year, those who had quality works succeeded in attracting attention from corporate organisations that bankrolled their project movies. A good example of such movie projects is 93 Days, a film based on the true story of men and women, who risked their lives and made sacrifices to save Nigeria from the consequences of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria.

Directed by Steve Gukas and produced by Pemon Rami, with Bolanle Austen-Peters of Terra Kulture and Dotun Olakunri, the compelling human story of dedication, sacrifice, resilience and survival was able to attract quality sponsors such as the TY Danjuma Foundation, Nigerian Breweries Plc, UBA, Fieldco, Mansard Insurance, Wapic and a whole lot of sponsors and supporters.

One of the ways to know a good film is by the quality of festivals it has featured or will feature. In the case of 93 Days, the movie has premiered in both African and international countries, with loads of positive reviews. From Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Chicago International Film Festival, Johannesburg Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, private screenings… the movie obviously enjoyed good patronage.

Meanwhile, comedian Ayo Makun, otherwise known as AY, beat the box office revenues of the entire big budget Hollywood and Nollywood titles released in 2016 in Nigeria, with his latest movie, A Trip to Jamaica. The movie, which premiered on September 30, 2016, has grossed over N137million, and counting to smash the Guinness world record of 30 Days in Atlanta, a previous movie by the comedian.

The hotly anticipated movie, 76, the first Nollywood film to get an international sales and distribution deal, came out with a bang at cinemas and in its second week since its release, it continued to top charts and selling out audiences. In fact, people waiting till weekends to watch the film on the week of release were disappointed, as many arrived cinemas to find the movie completely sold out.

As for the cinemas, they were all busy, especially during the holidays. Most importantly, practitioners seem to have totally embraced the act of collaboration as a way of weathering the storm.

‘We Are Making Huge Profit From Roasted Plantain Now’
From Charles Otu, Abakaliki
Mrs Agatha Okorie lost her husband in 2011. Due to hardship, she set up a shop along Gunning Road, near the popular Meat market in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital, where she prepares roasted plantain or yam mixed with beans.

Speaking to The Guardian, Okorie said she is making good sale, despite the harsh economic situation. She said the food, which is largely patronised by small and high income earners in Abakaliki is about the cheapest.

“I am happy that I am making so much profit from the business. I am one of the early beginners of this business in Abakaliki. Since
2012, I have been using proceeds from it to cater for my family,” said the mother of four.

She disclosed that the relatives of her late husband who are civil servants in Abakaliki helped her to start the business with
N50,000.

“I have already paid school fees for my children for this term.

I was able to save enough money to buy a plot of land at Izzi, that I am developing presently. I thank God that in this business, I have found the truth of the God’s faithfulness.”

She added that her business has been largely patronised by civil servants, traders and students among others such that she now makes
between N40,000 to N45,000 as profit daily. “Whether recession or not, people must eat food daily. That is why we make profit. We now sell on weekends, because demand for it has increased. That is why more people are coming into the business”, she said.

Another seller, Mrs. Eunice Nwigwe said: “I started the business about a year ago with a very little capital I borrowed from a friend
after I lost my banking job. I have been making good profit in recent times. I have to engage the services of two younger ladies who help me in roasting the yam/plantain, while I concentrate more on serving the meals to my numerous customers.’

She said the food is on high demand to the extent that people even order for it from their homes.



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