At the beginning of this month, the Kaduna Market Development and Management Company (KMDMC) held a trade fair at the Murtala Muhammed Square. Why did the fair take place at the middle of the year and at that venue?
As you rightly said, the trade fair was organized by Kaduna Market and it was the second edition of such a fair that the company organized. His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has expressed happiness that the trade fair was successful. It was an innovation of Kaduna Market, which is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Technology, to bring together Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to Murtala Square and exhibit their various products, goods and services. This afforded many otherwise unknown industries and firms, producers of arts and crafts, the opportunity to showcase their various products.
The attendance was also huge in the sense that people in and around Kaduna participated in very large numbers. His Excellency led a team of senior government officials to attend. And during the trade fair, the governor realized that there are a lot of business people who are operating from the vicinity of their homes. They don’t have shops or business premises; most of them rely on online marketing and so on. So, the trade fair provided the opportunity for such businessmen to meet with the governor and created a lot of avenues, by asking the ministry and Kaduna Market to work closely with these Small and Medium scale entrepreneurs, with a view to creating opportunities for them to probably acquire stalls and shops, in the several markets that Kaduna State Government is building across the state.
Is it correct to assume that this trade fair has now supplanted the Kaduna International Trade Fair that used to hold along the Kaduna-Zaria Trade Fair Complex?
No, no, no. Kaduna International Trade Fair is a different kettle of fish all together. It is a trade fair that is often organized Kaduna Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture. And you will recall that even before the Market trade fair, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Technology, in conjunction with Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA) and the Kaduna Enterprise Development Agency, organized a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic during the celebration of the 55th anniversary of Kaduna state. This held at the Centenary Park close to Government House in May. That also provided ample opportunity for lots of these enterprises to come and showcase the activities that they are engaged in. It provided a forum where not just Kaduna State Government officials but also, relevant business concerns like the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Export Promotion Council, Corporate Affairs Commission etc. to speak to exhibitors. Government officials and owners of small and medium scale enterprises interacted and shared ideas. They exchanged ideas regarding the bottlenecks that inhibit the development of their businesses.
So, the last trade fair which held at Murtala Square is an innovation of Kaduna Market and we intend to make it a periodic activity. In the next 10 months, we should be able to have about two or three of these fairs because the exhibitors themselves and the business community and Kaduna residents expressed profound appreciation and keen interest in the fair. And the more we do it, the merrier it will become. So, it is not a replacement of the Kaduna International Trade Fair, where exhibitors come from outside the country. But this is a local trade fair that is organized specifically for small and medium scale enterprises.
And one of the discoveries that we made during the trade fair is the volume of initiatives that most of our women have shown; 75% to 90% of the vendors who exhibited were women who produced goods and products within the confines of their homes. There was also a group that exhibited different types of shoes, including boots, that could be used by the police and Armed Forces. The governor directed KADIPA to interact further with them and see the possibility of allocating to them stores and give them a rent-free period of say five years. He also directed KADIPA to liaise with our state security forces like KASTLEA, Vigilante Service and so on, to see the possibility of them patronizing these producers, for the boots of their personnel.
You said that the market trade fair is going to be a yearly affair…
No, I said it is going to be organized quarterly. We want to hold it at least four times a year. I hope that in the 10 months that we have before the end of this administration, we should organize it at least two or three times, because of the enthusiasm that has been shown by the exhibitors on one hand, and people who are coming to visit the fair. In fact, Kaduna Market Development and Management Company had to cut down the number of people who were willing to participate at the last fair.
The first edition of this trade fair was held at Kasuwan Magani. And the second held at Murtala Muhammed Square. Will the next fair hold at the square? Do you think a sports complex is the ideal place to host such fairs?
Like I said, this second fair held at Murtala Square which has been concessioned to a private group that will be running it, not just as a profit-making venture but to maintain the huge investments that Kaduna State Government has made in terms of facilities. It will create employment and economic activity and so on. I told you earlier that the MSME Clinic that we held earlier in May was held at the Centenary Park. I also saw that a few days after sallah, private individuals themselves rented the park and hosted their own kind of exhibition. So, that tells you that there is a lot of interest on the part of the citizenry. So many things are being done that the people are not aware of. But these exhibitions and fairs provide the opportunity for people to come and see who is doing what and what is being done. I think that is one of the ways of paying off the huge investments that this government has made in terms of encouraging people to be self-reliant. It also shows that the social investment programme of the federal government as well as the various interventions of Kaduna State Government, to the Small and Medium Enterprises is paying off. A lot of people are coming out and saying that they are beneficiaries of this or that intervention programme. That shows that the former attitude of people taking assistance from government as a mere palliative, is fast changing.
You said that Murtala Square has been concessioned. How can members of the public access the use of the facility. Do they go through Kaduna Market Development and Management Company (KMDMC) or the concessionaire?
As for now, the concessionaire hasn’t fully taken over but all the paper work has been done and agreements have been signed; the ‘’Is’’ has been dotted and the ‘’Ts’’ have been crossed. What is left now is that Kaduna Market has been urging the concessionaire to come for a meeting to put a ground rule as to what is expected. If you pass Murtala Square every morning, you see a lot of people outside doing exercises, which used to characterize what used to obtain inside the square in the past. Now that it has been virtually reconstructed, it is not possible for its gates to be flung wide open to all and sundry. And of course, it is not possible for a government agency to run it. Allowing it to be run by any government agency or bureaucracy means that we are not likely to achieve the objectives that we set to achieve, meaning that in the next few years, a lot of the facilities will dilapidate and nobody will be held responsible. So, the concessionaire is supposed to take care of the square and ensure the efficient running of the facilities.
Murtala Square, I keep saying, is the most comprehensive sporting facility arena in this country and even in Africa. I don’t know what obtains in South Africa, I have tried to see if there is any one single square, that contains all that there is in Murtala Square. For example, the only sport that cannot be held in Murtala Square today is golf. But from polo to cricket, to rugby, football, basketball, volley ball, swimming, cycling, just name it. So, it is the most comprehensive sporting arena in this country today. So, if we don’t get a serious concessionaire that will manage it in such a way that it is not used free of charge and it is well maintained, the facilities will be destroyed. The essence is not to make profits but putting value in what you have. We have a lot of fitness clubs around. People walk in and pay to exercise. It is now left for the concessionaire to come up with the modalities to be adopted in the management of the respective sporting areas and facilities. Mark you, it is not just about sports. There is the Umaru Yar’adua Conference Centre, with a comprehensive conference hall that can be used for all kinds of events and activities. Look at the club house, it is obviously one of the biggest club houses that you can find in this country today.
KADUNA MARKET TRADE FAIR Facts
-Kaduna Market Development and Management Company (KMDMC) held the second edition of its trade fair at Murtala Muhammed Square in July;
-The maiden edition took place at Kasuwan Magani Market, when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo commissioned the market in September 2021;
-Over 80 vendors exhibited a wide variety of goods and services during the last trade fair;
-KMDMC also organized free entrepreneurship and business workshops, where relevant MDAs enlightened attendees on the business opportunities in Kaduna state;
-The trade fair also featured side attractions like the Under-15 mini football tournament, a picnic section, a photo booth and kids playing area;
-Kaduna Market Trade Fair is different from the Kaduna International Trade Fair, which is organized yearly by the Kaduna Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCIMA)