Kaduna — The 34th Kaduna International Trade Fair yesterday started with cultural dancers, exhibitors, financial experts showcasing their products, goods and services in style.
Earlier beneficiaries of the trade fair: local carpenters and artisans who also displayed their talents in making the large trade fair complex attractive had made good fortunes.
Security men from the military, police, State Security Services, immigration, the customs and others took strategic positions as exhibitors moved freely.
A quiz competition was also organised for secondary schools in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
First Bank of Nigeria Plc like its name was the first financial institution to open banking operations there. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) also opened its services ahead of telecoms operators.
Dangote Group of Companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Jaiz Bank, Unity Bank, Union Bank and other financial institutions were all set for business.
Solid materials ministry, Nitel, the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Export and Import Bank, National Directorate of Employment and some companies from Egypt, India, and Pakistan were registered for the fair.
Others from Thailand, Malaysia, Poland, Turkey, Mali, Chad, Niger, Senegal were also registering yesterday.
President of Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCIMMA) Abdulalimi Bello said this year's fair will be better than the previous ones. He said from 1979, Kaduna trade fair has hosted 34 fairs which have gone a long way in boosting socio-economic development of Nigeria.
Bello said, KADCIMMA will introduce more activities including agricultural fair to encourage local production. "My expectation for this year's trade fair is very high because we have positive signs considering the number of people registered. We must acknowledge the participation of foreign companies.
"Some investors who complained of the security challenge last year are already here. This has sent a signal internationally that Kaduna is peaceful. Adequate arrangements have been made to ensure that the good atmosphere in the trade fair complex continues to the end," he said.
For the theme, "Combating Security Challenges and the Way Forward for Nigeria's Economic Transformation," prominent Nigerians like Professor Mike Onashi and former Military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar have agreed to grace fair the tomorrow.
Mr Saance Saarce of Westglo Aluminium in Lagos, Kaduna and Ogun States said he was happy to be in Kaduna trade fair for the second time. "I was here last year and our expectation for this year's fair is high considering the number of people we've seen. We are planning to establish an office in Kano to cover the entire north," Saarce said.
Speaking at the official opening of the fair, the Vice President of the Nigeria Association of Chambers, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Ahmed Rabi'u commended the efforts of the Nigerian security agencies towards stemming crime and called for more training of the security personnel.
"We want government to procure more equipment that will help to track criminals. These will boost business activities in the country," he said. Adding, "We are proud of Kaduna chamber of commerce for its efforts towards boosting the Nigerian economy," he said.
Also speaking, Minister of Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga said his ministry are much concerned about creating a conducive atmosphere for trade and investment. The minister who was represented by a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dauda Kigbo called on participants to promote trade and investment in the country.
"The federal government is strengthening strategy on counter terrorism which has been drawing investment backward. With this trade fair, more foreign investors will be attracted. The trade fair will also expand the nation's economy by creating a conducive atmosphere for both local and foreign companies to compete," Aganga said.
The minister said the ministry has concluded arrangements to build modern abattoirs in the six geo-political zones of the country. "We believe that if we build modern abattoirs in all the geo-political zones, they will boost investment because the federal government is more concerned about wealth creation, food security and the task of transforming Nigeria," he said.
Declaring the fair open, Kaduna State Governor Muhktar Ramalan Yero said for three decades, the fair has booted skills and provided job opportunities for many youths in the country.
According to the governor, "Every year, new market ideas are explored. The theme for this year's fair which is Combating Security Challenges and the way forward for Nigeria's Economic Transformation, is well conceived.
"Peace and security have improved in Kaduna State and we're calling on all and sundry to come and invest in Kaduna State. I'm also calling on the organisers to encourage local manufacturers," Yero said.