Unity of Nigeria, at this time around, is concern of many stakeholders. Ambassador Deacon C. F. C. Obih is one of them. He is the President of Market Leaders Assocition of Nigeria. He spoke to the on issues concerning the integral sector of the economy and unity of beleaguered nation. The excerpts:
Many name is Amb. Deacon C. F. C. Obih. I am the National President of Market Leaders Association of Nigeria.
Market Leaders Association is an umbrella body that cares and governs all the major markets in this country. I have equally served as the President General of Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Dealers in Mushin, Lagos.
Let me commense by saying that the trading community has done so well.
After being the President General of Ladipo Auto Motor Spare Parts Dealers which is the biggest auto motor spare parts in the whole of West Africa, God laid it in my heart to bring all the market leaders in this country together so that we could speak with one voice.
I am talking of Hausas, Igbos, Yourabas, the South South, the Middle Belt, etc.
We are all working together. It is not only Igbo men and women that are into business in this country. Other tribes are equally into it seriously. We come together and speak as one.
So today, by the grace of God, we are united and are together. The Market Leaders Association is spread all over the 36 states of this country and Abuja. And we are working for the future betterment of traders in the country.
The Market Leaders Association was born in the year 2000. And our aims and objectives are to protect the interest of every business man and woman in this country, that is the trading business sector in this country.
Now, we have discovered that business that the business men and women of today are no longer the ones of yesterday. We have discovered that in the trading community, we have lawyers. We have accountants, engineers, politicians, and those who graduated from one academic field or another who are doing genuine business, and we have to protect them.
And I want to thank God because within this few years of our existence, the Association has achieved a lot in this area. We have decided to work and give support to ourselves, to make sure that there is better deal for the sector in this country.
That is why we are asking our communi participate in governance of this country, get our PVC so that we can vote and be voted for during elections so that we can elect men and women of integrity.
I want to thank God because the Association has done so well particularly in the area of resolving disputes and conflicts in some markets in some markets and also mediating between government and trading community.
Today, there is is cordial relationship between the trading community and Lagos State in particular and in this effect, the Association in Lagos in the month of May this year appreciated Gov. Ambode of Lagos State.
We did not endorse him because of his party, but because of what he has achieved with the mandate given to him by Lagos residents.
We are nonpolitical and nonpartisan. It is only in markets that you get Moslems and Christians in one building living peacefully, staying cordially and transacting business without rancour. On Fridays, Moslems go to mosques to worship God. On Sundays, it is the turn of Christians to go church and worship God. Then on Monday morning everybody is back into business.
I want to thank God because there now much cordial relationship existing between Christians and Moslems in the trading community in the country.
As a matter of fact, the Deputy National President of the Association is a Moslem. He is Comrade Mohammed Kummi from Gombe State, and is a man that fights for the unity of  the nation.
By the grace of God, I am the former President General of Ladipo Auto Motor Spare Parts. In Ladipo alone, we are over 5,000 traders. You can measure it, but we leaders meet once in every month. There is no way we can ask everyone to come. That's why every month we can ask every chairman or president, secretary to come so that all of us can reason together. That is how we meet.
I want to appeal to Federal Government to consider the trading community in their decisions. Let it not be that it is only during campaigns, during election periods that they will look for us.
That it is only when it is time for thuggery, they will look for some of us.
But I want to thank God that the board has made it compulsory that our members are no longer involved in anything thuggery.
Just as I told you, traders of today are no longer traders of yesterday. We have men and women of integrity in our midst. And I am appealing to government to consider some of our plights.
One of them is the issue of importation.
The conditions given by government are affecting us abysmally so much. The issue of foreign exchange, the high Dollar exchange to Naira, affects importers badly.
We know that we cannot do without foreign exchange but let their be an understanding. That's why I want to thank God and commend the Government of Lagos State.
We appeal against the embarrassment we getting from some of brothers in Government like the V. I. O. is not helping matters.
I am appealing to the Federal Government to rescind some of their decisions so that there will be a mutual understanding and cordial relationship between the trading community and the Federal Government.
And I want to reassure both the Federal and Lagos State Governments that we are ready to partner with any government that wants to partner with us to make Nigeria a better country for us all.
Consider some of the goods banned like cotton. The industries that produce those things are no longer in operation. So government should consider the production and availability of these banned 41 items.
Let the industries come back into production. I appeal that the trading community be considered and recognized. Let's be part of the government. With that the future is very bright. We can sit together and iron out all these issues.
I am happy that by the grace of God, the country is moving forward. We are not talking about political parties. In the time past, politicians deceived us with political parties. Nigerians should elect men and women of integrity. Whatever political parties you belong to, be it APC, PDP, SDP, ADC, etc let it those who have interest of this country at heart.