Alhaji Issa Akanbi Muhammed is the President of Association of Nigeria Tyre Marketers, Africa Tyre Village, Lagos International Trade Fair CoAssociation of Nigeria Tyre Marketersmplex. He spoke with Cliffsimeon Akalonu recently
Tell us about the association
The association has been in existence for over 40 years now, all along we were doing business in Lagos Island, but in 2009 we decided that we are going to have our own place because we found out that the atmosphere there was not that conducive for business.
You know the place we are talking about is a residential area and we wanted a place where we can call a market and this is not just a market but a market where we just deal only on tyres and all other accessories.
It will interest you to know that we built our market single-handedly without the help of any individual, organization or any bank loan. We built it with our sweat, in fact every member contributed solely for his or her own shop and we did it and to God be the glory in January 28, 2013 to be specific, we relocated our goods down to this place (Trade Fair).
What are the challenges?
The challenges we are facing now are many. For example, if you are leading a community, there is every tendency that you will have some resisting members. And in an association where you have resisting members, who decided to go against our resolution of relocating from our former place to the new site, that one alone is a set back because the market is not like we expected it to be and you know when you put hands together and work on a project, I think everybody must support that project that you are doing, but by the time some people are betraying you or the union, or betray the objectives of the association along the line, you will have problems, so that is the challenge we have now as an association.
Then as a Tyre dealer, we have many challenges but the one biting us now is the issue of non-accessibility to Forex for the importation of tyres. Banks cannot do that and government is saying that tyre is classified as rubber and such they ban us from importing tyres with forex from government, whereas, here in Nigeria we don’t have a local tyre manufacturing company.
Formally, we used to have Michelin and Dunlop but they have relocated, I think about 5 or 7 years ago complaining of power, and since we don’t have any local tyre manufacturing company in Nigeria, why blocking us from accessing forex because it means we should go and source it through the black market and when we get it from the black market at a higher rate and bring our goods at high rate, it will also affect the consumers because they will consume it at a higher rate too. So that is the major challenge the government should look into.
How do educate and advise your customers on the use of tyres?
Actually we have been involved with various organizations to sensitize people about the use of tyres and the way they should take care of their tyre and especially what kind of tyre you should buy and where you should buy it. We have done this on radio programs and other media too, where we talk about tyres. We have also organized workshops and we are trying to organize one very soon in conjunction with the Standards Organization of Nigeria on the use of tyres and its standards.
How does one know the expiring date of a tyre?
The date written on tyres is not the expiring date but it is the manufacturing date. You will calculate four years after the manufactured date before you can say your tyre has expired.
Is the federal government carrying you along regarding the auto policy?
They have not been doing that but we should be involved in some of the Auto policy making especially relating to the issue of tyres.
Local tyre manufacturing
Yes we have written to the Central Bank of Nigeria and we have also written to the Ministry Commerce and Industry and we are in the process of writing a reminder of those letters now on the latest issue of tyre manufacturing because we believe that if tyres are being manufactured here in Nigeria, more jobs will be created, more traders will come up as distributors. But what I don’t know is what the government is doing or they just expect people to manufacture in their country and send down to us to consume.
What is the level of patronage here?
Its increasing, the market is improving
Why is it that in this tyre market motor cycle and tricycle tyres are not sold here?
Because they don’t meet our standards. We only sell agricultural tyres, motor vehicle tyres, as well as heavy and light duty trucks and bulldozers.
I love reading books, I like watching documentaries and news and I watch football.
Yeah I am an African man if you give me good amala with well prepared vegetable soup, then am there.