Recently, a Correspondent of NATA News, Cliffsimeon Akalonu was a guest of the President of ANTM, Africa Tyre Village, Alhaji Issa Akanbi in Lagos.
Alhaji Akanbi dealt extensively on the challenges confronting his members and much more during an Interview Session.
NATA News: What are the challenges so far?
One of the challenges still bothering us till tomorrow is the issue of exchange rate and until the Federal government remove Tyre on the list of items that cannot gain direct access from the bank and categorizing Tyre as rubber, making it hard for us to source for forex, which is not benefiting us in any way because you and I knows that there is no Tyre manufacturing company in Nigeria, they are all based abroad.
Secondly, the issue of clearing goods at the ports is another headache we are facing and all the port abuses. The most annoying challenge is the foreigners who have almost taken over our business because the federal government wants to encourage foreign investors and thereby discouraging the local and indigenous investors. You can imagine a foreign investor or Tyre manufacturing company representative in Nigeria, engaging graduates as sales reps and give them targets. Now, what they do is to send them to companies where we supply goods, they go to motor parks and sell some tyres and give credits to customers and these are the same people we buy from; so how do we meet up with our own sales and how do they want us to survive since they are taking control of the market which should have been our primary duty. These are the problems and still impeding the growth of our business.
NATA News: What do you think the government should to do to tackle the issue of foreigners coming here to take over business from indigenous investors?
I think the government knows what to do because it doesn’t happen anywhere in the world, at least most of us do travel to countries like India, China, Korea, Dubai and others and we know how the system works there. You cannot come there as a foreigner and begin to market products without going through due process or without passing through indigenous investors there, so; there should be areas they will be limited to. If they bring their goods here we should be the ones to market them, they should be restricted from going to companies, motor parks and other places to sell products. They should be limited into giving us their goods to market and the Federal Government should regulate them in a way that it will help grow and prosper the indigenous investors.
NATA News: Africa Tyre Village is booming and more members joining the association, can you tell us the secrets behind it?
Honestly it is by the grace of God.
NATA News: In previous years, the government came up with the ease of doing business in our ports and today some of your members still complain of delays and difficulty in clearing goods at the port, do you think the ease of doing business in our ports have been archived?
They cannot achieve it like that without carrying stakeholders along with them. Let me tell you, you cannot sit under the air conditioner and make laws on how it will favour you alone forgetting that “he who is wearing shoes knows where it is pinching him”. Let them invite port operators, transporters, exporters/importers, clearing agents, traders, trade unions and all the necessary players in the industry to put heads together and achieve something. There are places they make mistakes or the areas where they don’t know much about, they can be corrected because one man cannot be a group.
NATA News: What are the achievements so far from the association?
The association is able to mobilize more members. We have inaugurated our modern market through the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment which the whole world witnessed it. The greatest achievement was that before now, we were under a concessioner and now we have our papers direct from the Federal Government through Lagos State International Trade Fair Management Board, So, we are now independent.
Our association has gone extra miles to achieve what other associations have not done before anywhere in Nigeria by launching a complaint desk where you can make enquiry before you buy any goods or tender complaints after sales, a good move I think is commendable.
NATA News: Who are your partners; locally and internationally?
All tyre manufacturers are our partners. We are working together. Then as an association in Nigeria, we partner with all relevant agencies especially Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to fight the use and importation of substandard goods in Nigeria.
NATA News: Do you think substandard tyres still come in Nigeria?
I will not tell you that I am sure, but what I will tell you is that we as an association and Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), are doing something and soonest there will be no story like substandard tyres in the country, because we are advancing.
NATA News: What programs do you have for the rest of the year?
This year, we will have more than 3 or 4 rallies; where we will be educating the public especially tyre consumers and dealers on how they use their tyres; where to buy tyres of good quality for safety; how to take care of their tyres and all that. We also intend to partner with the FRSC, SON and others so as we can achieve better results.
NATA News: What is the goodwill message to your customers and the general public who look up to the association?
I want Nigerians to have patience and perseverance for things will get better. I want Nigerians to know that Africa Tyre Village is a place where you can get anything call tyres and with guarantee on every product you bought as we don’t sell substandard products here in the Africa Tyre Village, so I urge you to feel free and patronize and support us as we are set to serve you better.