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Iyaloja, others hail concessionaire’s exploits at Lagos Trade Fair complex

Concessionaire and core investor at the Lagos International Trade Fair complex, Badagry Expressway, Aulic Nigeria Limited has received commendations from many Nigerians including a Lagos lawmaker and current Iyaloja-General of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Folashade Tinubu-Ojo.

Addressing top officials of Aulic Nigeria Limited and mammoth crowd of traders in the complex who trooped out to welcome her recently, the Iyaloja-General praised the concessionaire of the complex and Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of Aulic Nigeria Limited, Prof Nick C. Ezeh for his vision and hard work that resulted in the opening up the hitherto moribund complex.

Aulic House visit
The Iyaloja-General of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Folashade Tinubu-Ojo (centre), Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of Aulic Nigeria Limited and concessionaire of Lagos International Trade Fair complex, Prof Nick C. Ezeh (second right), Hon. Emeka Idimogu (LAHA) second left and another guest during a recent familiarization tour of the complex on Badagry Expressway, Lagos.

Chief Tinubu-Ojo said “We have gone round all the markets. We have seen the great work, the foundation that is being laid by the Aulic Group. We have also seen how the complex is effectively utilised. It’s well-laid and organised. God should give us the enablement to build on what is on ground; to be able to maintain and build more structures on the already-organised market layout that you have put in place.”

Aulic THC
Tools & Hardware Centre (THC), inside Lagos Trade fair complex (Developed by off-takers from Aulic). Photo: Business Hilights

On the vast business opportunities at the complex, the Iyaloja averred that “I give you my word that all the opportunities we might have as traders to invest would be utilised so that your efforts will not go down the drain. We thank you for your patriotic and selfless spirit. Some people would have been opposed to our coming because they would argue ‘it’s their dream, vision or I conceptualised this. You will never work without reaping the fruits of your labour.”

In her further submission, he noted that no country can achieve any meaningful economic growth without an enabling environment that gives traders the opportunity to contribute their quota to nation’s economic development.

According to her, time has come for various regulatory authorities to ensure strict implementation of policies and procedures formulated to engender environment conducive enough to robust business activities than creating unnecessary policy summersaults that can send wrong signals to prospective investors either local or international.

She also thanked Eze Ndigbo of Lagos State, Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu for facilitating the tour.

Some of the markets toured during the visit included Mandillas, Balogun and ASPAMDA, Africa Tyre Village, UASPD, Tools and hardware Centre, Balogun Business Association (BBA), Association of Progressive Traders (APT) and others.

The Iyaloja entourage also included top officials and market leaders in Lagos State and a Lagos State lawmaker, Hon Emeka Idimogu.

Aulic AfTV
Africa Tyre Village (AfTV), inside Lagos Trade fair complex (Developed by off-takers from Aulic). Photo: Business Hilights

Business Hilights investigations revealed that Aulic Nigeria Limited has over the years attrached offtakers who have invested well over N150bn in infrastructure and over N200bn in good and services in their respective trading plazas.

Apart from the trading groups, the construction giant, CCECC also took off part of the massive complex adjacent to the Badagry Expressway as their contrcuttion yard.

In his remarks, the GMD of Aulic Nigeria Limited, Prof Ezeh thanked Iyaloja and her team and revealed to them that the process for the concessioning of the trade fair complex began in 1993 when he wrote a proposal on the commercialisation of the trade fair complex for the late Sanni Abacha which was approved. He added that activities of commercialisation began by bringing in traders for different types of wares.

According to him, the complex was conceived as an International Shopping Plaza, not really as a market.

He disclosed further that “The complex is sited on 322 hectares of land. It stretches from here to across the expressway; from Oluti to Dangote, to SSS Quarters, to Ado Village to Oando. It is segmented into various aspects of the economy. “Here, we have a 100-room motel, terrible as it was when we met it, we’ve turned it around. More than 50 rooms are currently in use.

“We also have residential areas mapped out; we have areas for entertainment and a stadium. We will give professional advice to market leaders on how to maximise the opportunities present at the complex. You can also use this place to showcase made-in-Nigeria wares. I believe we have the capacity to develop this country for the benefit of Nigerians. We have to do our best to further develop this facility for the use of Nigerians,” he said.

Prof Ezeh recalled that part of the dreams for the complex was the auto spare parts and machinery dealers’ association that will help the automotive industry which will produce the first made-in-Nigeria car.

However, he said, when the commercialisation was approved, he brought the financial institution that sponsored the project for the traders; even as he said he was the project consultant.

He noted that some years later, government decided to privatise the trade fair complex. Those who knew the complex when it was originally opened knew that it was a world-class facility.

But 25 or 30 years later, it became a ghost of itself.

Continuing, he explained that Aulic Nigeria Limited won the tender to manage the complex based on the group’s competence and technical knowhow, stressing that “When we came here in 2007, it was overgrown by bush. The only significant thing that happens usually is the 10-day activity of the various Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“There were new developments that were conceived to aid the trade fair complex such as a terminal to drive export and import and then an airstrip that would be Lagos’ second airport,” he said.

The concessionaire described the complex as the hub of business activities in West Africa, pointing out that “Since after the concessioning, we have not really taken over the complex. All the markets visited within the complex are not responsible to us. We don’t make any money from them. Since they turned the Plaza into open market, the Iyaloja has to come in because since I’m the concessionaire and she is in charge of the markets, we have to share the responsibilities.”

Aulic UASPDA
Front view of the United Allied Spare Parts Dealers’ Association (UASPDA), inside Lagos Trade Fair complex (Developed by off-takers from Aulic). Photo: Business Hilights

In his further submission, Prof. Ezeh revealed that one of the ideas was to key into the Federal Government’s policy on import and export, as one can export from the complex to any part of the world and import from any part of the world to the complex.

While maintaining that “We want to use the complex to help the country economically to capture the West Africa market,”, Prof Ezeh averred that “We support government’s determination to change the country positively. But it seems people do not like change. People’s perception about privatisation is that someone has taken our property”.

“Before we came here, government was spending up to N700 million a month on salaries of civil servants.

“However, in the last 10 years, government has not spent one Naira as salaries. We maintain the facilities. So, these are the beauties of privatisation.

“We in Aulic Nigeria Limited are looking for investors. We are looking for partners and interested Nigerians to come and make use of the facilities here. Ours is to put the facilities in good order.”

Some of the business operators in several trading plazas toured expressed confidence on the management capacity of Aulic Nigeria Limited and called on the government to support the concessionaire in all efforts to grow investment and management of the massive complex.