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The second day of exhibition was almost as busy as the first day, though the number of serious inquirers was less. This is not unusual. The pattern is universal. If the exhibition is for three days, the most relevant people will come on the second day. If it is for two days, they will come mostly on the first day. Normally, they would take the first round and then decide who to pursue further, and they would return to specific stalls only.
The exhibition closed at the end of the second day. Few comments on three topics are in order.
Exhibitors – belong to two main categories: business owners and employees. Both display different behaviors. The owners would try hard to close some deal, sell the samples they bring for display even if it is not permitted, get maximum benefits from the organizers, live frugally, but spend money on personal activities. The employees work equally hard but live a more comfortable life as per their entitlement. They also tend to follow the rules better and not cross the line unnecessarily. Owners tend to bug the organizers for every small, little thing for which the employees find a way usually. In summary, more noise is generated by entrepreneurs compared to employees.
Exhibitors here were no different. However, I felt that many people trusted TDAP and came all the way at a huge cost without understanding the potential clearly. TDAP has a history of its own. Since the days when it was EPB – Export Promotion Bureau – it was dominated by bureaucrats, mostly from Commerce and Trade group who did not have much intention to promote exports. They did not do research on markets and therefore could not provide adequate information. Then it was converted into TDAP – Trade Development Authority Pakistan; Tariq Ikram became its first Chief Executive. He was an ex-CEO from industry, and he tried to run TDAP as a corporate against huge resistance. He developed information base at TDAP and focused on industries and countries individually. After his tenure, TDAP was handed over to a retired bureaucrat. The results were obvious.
The sum up is that some of the exhibitors had almost nothing to find here and their investment of money and time went waste.
Organizers – Pakistan High Commission in Nigeria based at Abuja, Commercial Section based at Lagos, and TDAP were the main organizers. Advisor to PM, Abdul Razzak Dawood was the supervising minister. All of them worked hard, engaged good local vendors, made excellent arrangements, facilitated the exhibitors to the maximum possible extent, invited prospective buyers from Nigeria, West Africa and from as far as Sudan. They engaged commercial or diplomatic missions in all these countries for this purpose. Even the Advisor stayed throughout the program. Two thumbs up for the diplomatic and commercial missions; it was an excellent show of coordinated work. In my long experience, I had not seen such quality work done earlier. It was impressive and if we continue in the same spirit, we shall be able to really boost exports.
Nigeria Market and Life – We took out time on Friday to visit some pharmacies and have a look at the real life. We went briefly to the local market where there were hundreds of small shops and vendors selling everything. It was chaotic, busy, and dirty. The expression of hard life was written over their faces. Poverty was on clear display. In fact, it was so clear that those people were living at a sub-human level. The pictures included in this post were taken by me and show what I am saying.
Nigeria has a lot of disparity and inequality. You will see long lines of most expensive Japanese, American and French cars and SUVs – Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Peugeot, Land Cruiser, RAV, Cadillac – you name it, and it is there. This is the affluent minority which has the most wealth. Then there is the majority which has no means, they survive at the barest level of subsistence and live the lowest grade life, generation after generation.
Lastly, a few words about Pakistanis living in these places.
We had the chance to find a Pakistani restaurant where we had a meal. The guy named Basharat said he had been living in Lagos for four years. Other than those Pakistanis, who come for a proper job, the others are mostly seen in dubious circumstances doing dubious things. They would try to waylay other Pakistanis who meet them. This is a deplorable state of dealing but it is common, and I have seen the same thing repeating itself at so many places. Indians are particularly supportive to their fellows wherever they meet them. We know that they are already all over the globe and taking over high positions and businesses. They are getting their children the best education and preparing them as future leaders. We on the other hand, are deteriorating by the day. Prayers alone shall not do much good, if these are not backed up by actions.
To be Continued……
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