Obi, Utomi, Maduka, Others Identify Problems Militating Against Aba Businesses, Proffer Solution


Participants at the just concluded Aba Business and Leadership Summit have identified and proffered solutions to the problems militating against the growth of businesses in the commercial centre of Abia State.

They identified lack of business structure, lack of proper corporate governance, lack of partnerships, poor infrastructure and multiple-taxation, as major challenges that led to the collapse of the once booming businesses in Aba.

Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, at the summit announced plans to establish Aba Business School, a decision the governor said was informed by the urgent need to preserve the pre-existing business skills and advance the educational capacity of the traders.
He said the business school would train traders to be certified holders of Diploma certificates which would help them advance their businesses.

Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, who was the keynote speaker at the summit themed: ‘Transferring Tested and Proven Business Models to the Next

Generation’ organised by Abia State Government in conjunction with Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA) held at Aba Sports Club, Aba, said businesses in the Enyimba City started to die when children from individual family owned businesses failed to sustain their family businesses especially with demise of their founders.

Mr. Obi who said that family businesses owned about 80-90 per cent of all the corporations globally and contributed 70 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), said Aba footwear could turn around the economy of Abia State in particular and Nigeria in general.
He compared made-in-Aba footwear to those produced in Vietnam, adding that Vietnam makes $140 billion annually from exporting footwear.

“Aba is known for footwear, clothing and for everything. We didn’t do the right thing that is why we are where we are today. No proper mentorship within the family in sustaining family businesses, no proper corporate governance, no company in Aba is listed on Nigeria Stock Exchange. Businesses do well when subjected to the rigours of proper corporate governance.

“Government has a share of the blame too. They don’t have fiscal and monetary policies to support businesses, they are not keen to support businesses, they killed more businesses and even killed what we produced. Ninety per cent of the problem of Nigeria is caused by politicians, government failing to support businesses.“

No bank today is doing lending, they are doing brokerage. Politicians should swallow their pride and do the right thing because if we fail, society will come back to swallow us,” Obi said.

Prof. Pat Utomi, one of the speakers at the summit said that there was a need to build entrepreneurs for sustainability, maintaining that creative ways of doing business like use of technology should be applied in family businesses to keep them afloat from one generation to another.

“We must be innovative on how you handle businesses. Business owners need to understand the nuances of business and their priority. If Barth Nnaji completes the Geometric project in Aba, the city in the next five years will become a commercial hub.”

On his part, Prof. Barth Nnaji who said that he invested over half a billion dollars to his Geometric Power Plant located in Aba and opined that business owners should be properly mentored and trained.

Prof. Nnaji who insisted on following due process in running any business, said “We need to think about structure, corporate governance, think about bringing high quality people to manage any business. When you are bringing investors into your business, they will look at your purse with appropriate accounting and audit. People should be properly mentored and trained, everything I do goes through proper process.”

President and Founder of the Coscharis Group, Dr. Cosmos Maduka, who gave a moving presentation said his education stopped at Form three which he said made him go into apprenticeship at a very young age.

Dr. Maduka who was the lead discussant said he started business with only N200, called on young people to change their mental attitude, adding that nothing on the face of the earth would change a man with the right mental attitude.

“Young people should have vision for their lives and for where they want to go. My mother discovered my entrepreneurial capabilities. The young generation has been spoiled and none of them want to take responsibility. Please, don’t cancel the partnership. Apprenticeship is another that helped me. Every problem is a business. Successful people are between the ages of 12 and 28. Many people are occupied with things that are not profitable with their mind. If we build a strong economic force, we will not be depending on the government so much.

Earlier, Director General, Abia State Marketing and Quality Management Agency, Mr. Sam Hart, in his welcome address said Aba was a test case and model for progressive development.

Mr. Hart, who applauded Governor Ikpeazu’s efforts in bringing back the lost glory of Aba, attributed the collapse of businesses in Enyimba City to the refusal of businesses to accept entities, nepotism and lack of structure.

“Aba is a renowned business and entrepreneurship centre of West Africa, the city is renowned globally. Aba is a test case and model for progressive development. But I know that if you ask anybody in this hall today about the businesses that they used to know 10 years ago, 20 years ago, five years ago, regrettably that business is a shadow of itself. That phenomenon has to stop and that is why we are here today. With all the technological prowess of Aba, with all the popularity of Aba, why is there no company listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange? He asked.

“Governor of Abia State, Dr. Victor Ikpeazu, has done so much in ensuring that Aba regains its pride of place as the preferred business destination East of the Niger through massive infrastructural mitigation of this city. No administration in the history of Abia State has done the infrastructures that Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu executed. To put Aba back on the map, he has personally opened up the city and marketing of the made-in-Aba products which are sold globally. Since he became governor, everything he puts on is made-in-Aba. He is a complete representation of the enterprise of the Abia people.”