See letter below:
Dear Acting President @ProfOsinbajo
I am a Nigerian business owner indebted to a Chinese company due to bad policies by Nigerian government, corruption in Nigeria, stubbornness of the Chinese company and my mistakes.
During your campaign in 2015 you had a common sense revolution townhall meeting at Transcorp Hilton Abuja. I was there and asked you a question on PREDATORY” PRICING” and what your Government would do about it if you win. I did tell you I was a victim of its effect.
Mr Acting President you won and today you are the acting President what has your Government done?
“Predatory Pricing” is the act of selling below cost price to take out a competitor or to launder money or a front for other nefarious businesses. My company was importing Tomato Paste then and as soon as we came into the market one of the biggest tomato company slashed it’s price.
I wasn’t too worried about this as my tomato paste had quality which they couldn’t beat. Business was tough but then I had been in Business for over 12 years at that time and I know it doesn’t come easy. Business was okay until around 2012 when all of a sudden different brands of Tomato Paste were in the market and selling below what we were selling. Some were selling at about the same cost as we were getting it in China. I was out of my wits end.
I called my producer severally demanding what was going on and whether he was cheating me and selling to me at a higher price. What made it more confusing was that some of the brands that were selling at such low value were made for us by the same producer. I kept demanding for the producer to tell me what was going on. At first we thought it was my clearing cost that was too high it turned out not to be so. There were other importers too who were having the same issues. One thing we did realise was that all these were happening with Fast Moving Goods (FMG ).
Mr Acting President, it was my clearing agent that finally let me into what was happening and I was stumped and I knew this was not something I could compete with and so on 12-12-12 I wrote to my Chinese Producer and asked him to stop production as there was a lot of problems and I could no longer sell the product. 12-12-12 stands out right? Do you know what makes it more so for me? It was my 39th birthday and I didn’t even realise that until 2016 when I had to refer my producer to the mail I sent him asking him to stop all production of my Tomato Paste.
My Chinese Producer refused saying orders placed must be produced and sent. 4 years on he is paying for that stubbornness and I am paying for not refusing to accept the goods at the port. It would have been cheaper I abandoned the goods at the port and paid my Chinese producer. Money I used to clear I would simply have given it to them and moved on but, hey! how was I supposed to know? I ended up selling goods that cost about 1030 naira after clearing at the port for 650 naira in Kano and other places after transportation.
There were series of things happening between 2011 and 2013. One of the things happening was that waivers had been given by government to big companies. Big companies with connection could influence getting policies made to suit them. Also not forgetting it was a period where the Economic Team had people who directly benefitted from the policies made. These big companies mostly had subsidiary companies and could afford to lower their prices (predatory pricing ) just to take Smaller Companies like my own out of business. I was not too worried about these companies because I know there is a limit to which they can reduce. They had a lot of overhead which as a much smaller company I didn’t have and I could still stand them.
The second thing was that money was being looted from the Treasury and people needed to clean their monies and put in the system so they had companies which where like fronts and would use them to buy FGM and sell off at any price to get their money. This killed many Businesses. When Businesses go down Sir, employees are laid off. I had to lay off over 30 workers in the last few years.
The third thing that I was told then was gun running. People were importing guns into the country and could afford to sell off whatever goods the company was officially into at any price. The recent guns that were found by customs is a tip of the iceberg if they seriously want to investigate. Whatever they were cleared as, they can afford to buy one or two containers of that and sell at any price and in the process affecting those who are genuinely in the business.
We all remember the company that was caught with money in South Africa with almost $10m in Oritsejafor’s private jet which the last administration said was Nigerian money. I do business with that company. I buy doors from it! And there it was by the side into gun running. Do we also remember owners of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park found with Arms in their houses? How would genuine Businesses be able to compete with them.
The fourth thing I got to know was that drug smugglers were also using FMG to launder their money.
Mr Acting President sir you cannot be talking about generating jobs without protecting small businesses. Small Businesses are the bedrock in many Economies.
Mr Acting President what are you doing to protect small businesses from predatory pricing like you promised ME you were going to do at the Hilton during your campaign in 2015?
Corruption is still ongoing and that it happened blatantly at the high level of government is not only sad but demoralising. The SGF David Babachir Lawal used an IT company to get contracts it wasn’t suited for. How would other Businesses in that category cope when he starts predatory pricing? The SGF had 200m paid into his account and nothing happened. Next he would clean any more money he gets by using it to bring in fast moving goods ( FMG ) and sell at any price thereby killing other businesses.
Today haven lost over $.5m I am still owing over hundred thousand USD. From dollar that was between 150-170 naira to a dollar that is now 500 naira it’s not funny. No matter how long it takes me I would pay off every single cent Insha Allah.
That none of the issue that led to a lot of businesses folding is being addressed is more worrisome and that businesses are still under threat from more factors in this administration is doubly worrisome.
Professor Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo I am holding you responsible for the electoral promise you made to me Aisha Yesufu in Transcorp Hilton Abuja to protect Businesses from Predatory Pricing.