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Covid-19 movement restriction boosts manufacturers’ association membership in Rivers/Bayelsa

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The Covid-19 shutdown and movement restrictions may have pushed many manufacturers in Nigeria to join the umbrella body of manufacturers in the country.

Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Rivers/Bayelsa chapter, Adawari Michael Pepple, who confirmed this during the 2020 annual general meeting (AGM) of the chapter disclosed that the government showed huge respect and confidence in the body during the period of lockdown.

Addressing a virtual AGM, the one time senator said the federal and state governments gave movement exemptions to MAN goods and most companies that did not belong to the body come to solicit assistance and vouching to move their goods. Some had their trucks and goods impounded at boundaries, only to be freed by intervention of MAN leadership in the zone.

The chairman mentioned that the Rivers State government particularly wasted no time in responding to appeals from MAN in the zone when trucks of members and non-members carrying essential goods were trapped. Some manufacturers such as Indorama Fertilizer Company and New Revoc (soaps and vegetable products) testified at the AGM on this aspect.

Jossy Nkwocha of Indorama said when fertilizers could no longer move out of the state, the MAN intervened and secured the approval of the state government to move across the boundaries. The CEO of Revoc also said same thing.

Pepple said MAN Rivers/Bayelsa deliberately decided to help all manufacturers at such time because it was a moment of emergency. He reported to the AGM that most of those companies have resolved to join MAN thereafter, leading to a boost in membership. Inside sources said the number has so far increased by about 50 per cent, which now counts in hundreds.

Investigations indicated that the membership surge began when the FG gave various incentives to manufacturers but only MAN can give a seal that would open those opportunities. There are intervention funds in manufacturing and waivers that would help manufacturers.

The MAN Rivers/Bayelsa chapter also recently secured concessionary fees at the Port Harcourt port for members and this led to huge applause at the AGM.

The annual report by the secretariat headed by Chibuzor Eze and the audit report indicated a surplus in revenue after expenditure in 2019/2020. this attracted huge applause from members.

Some members led by Ekama Emilia Akpan pleaded for relaxation of membership conditionalities to attract small and medium scale (SME) manufacturers into MAN. The CEO of Showers Group said women and the youths coming into manufacturing should be encouraged by opening an SME wing in MAN.

She noted that allowing them to get into MAN would make standardization easier so that Nigerians can come together and confront importation by ensuring that every household product has a Nigerian made version. She said Covid-19 has shown that countries must attempt to produce anything and everything no matter how crude at the beginning but that standardisation would make them better.

Akpan pointed to the theme of the AGM: ‘Manufacturing in Nigeria: Actualisation of Vision 2020’, saying both big and SMEs must be encouraged this time around to begin to produce things in Nigeria.

Speaking, the President of MAN, Munsur Ahmed, who spoke through the Acting Director General, Ambrose Oroche, commended the Port Harcourt for many feats including hosting the second executive council meeting outside Lagos. He said the greatest task before MAN is working with the FG to meet the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) regime.

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