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By Don Peter Okoro.

The Incumbent President of Automobile Manufacturers and Importers Association, Mr. Austin Manuel Jideofor has been returned unopposed by the Association in an election that took place on Thursday the 6th of December 2023.

In a peaceful and credible election conducted under the Electoral Chairmanship of Nze Alphonsus Umeh (Alvis) the current President was returned unopposed while some of the other positions were keenly contested for. Other Executives that came on board are: Ekene Ebubedike,Vice President; Origbo Uchenna, Secretary; Uzomefuna Stephen, Assistant Secretary; C. Martins, Treasurer; Emeka Okonkwo, Financial Secretary; Ikenna Nwachi, PRO; Nwoke Vitalis, Entertainment Officer and Igboamaka Toochukwu Assistant Entertainment Officer. In a brief Interview with the Press shortly after the election, the President, Mr Austin Manuel Jideofor said:.

“As you can see today, I was returned unopposed as the current President of Automobile Manufacturers and Importers Association. Here with me are my Executives that will work with me for the next four years.” On his main focus this time around, he said:”We will continue to give quality service and allow inclusiveness of the members of the Association. What happened today has never happened in the history of the Association. You can see the zeal, the love and the unity exhibited by the members.

You can see that the membership increased times five. That shows that we are doing something and we are going to do more. I don’t like to pre-empt what I want to do, when I start acting, you will see the actions.” On what he can beat his chest and say he has achieved since he became the President, he answered:

“Before now, we didn’t have a befiting place to hold our meetings. We were moving our meetings from one hotel to the other, but right now, we are the owners of this building. Bought,built and owned by Importers Association, that shows the capacity of the leadership of today. And we will continue to do more.

Apart from that, we have protected our members from intimidation and Touts and those who will pass through the backdoor and go to Government and get license to intimidate Traders, thinking that Traders are Illiterates of yesterday; but today, we are sound intellectuals with capacity, with understanding and togethernes to move mountains. We are going to bring in more innovations and bring in more members and all these Government Agencies will respect us. It is no longer a situation where they were dealing with us as individuals, now we are a Group and we can do more.” On the issue of multiple tax, he posited: “Yes the type of tax they are giving us is too much considering the economic situation and the exchange rate of the Importation industry. We are struggling to survive as Importers.

So we won’t want them to further pull us down. But we are engaging them to see reasons why they should not be taxing us higher. We will continue to engage all the Government Agencies like SON,FRS and others to see reasons why they should see us as partners in progress.” On the category of Importers that can be admitted into the Association, he replied:.

“The Association is open to all Importers in Nnewi. As long as you are bringing in goods from abroad, it is expected that you join us. Importation is a very challenging and rigorous business, but as a Group or Association, we can tackle things. collectively.” On the issue of piracy, he offered:”We are fighting piracy head-on because if we don’t we will all sink. Everybody need to protect his product; from there, if God blesses you, you’ll grow. In my administration, both past and present, I don’t joke with piracy.

People who import other people’s goods know that they are not my friends. We have never been in good terms. They know we can be very decisive in dealing with them.” On the major challenges they are facing, he answered:”

“The major challenges are the policies of Government, both State and Federal especially State Government. They come up with all kinds of taxes thinking that Importers are Jezebels or people who have committed some atrocities, but we will continue to engage them. It won’t be Business as usual. The policies of Anambra State Government are against the Importers and it is so disheartening. Anambra State Governor should look into all these, because they are destroying the good intentions of his Government. Too many Touts, but the Association will push for them to stop, because it is unacceptable to us. And of course, his second term is coming, except he doesn’t want us.” In his comments, the Electoral Committee Chairman,Nze Alphonsus Umeh (Alvis) described the election as free, fair and credible, calling on those who won to extend their hands of magnanimity to those that didn’t win and calling on those that didn’t win to cooperate with those that won for them to build a united, peaceful and progressive Association.

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