…says strike has made us exporters
After days of blocking the movement of foodstuffs and cattle to the Southern part of the country, the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers in Nigeria (AUFCDN) has said hundreds of millions of naira was lost to the action. AUFCDN made up of 75 independent unions had called off its strike action following assurances from the federal government to meet its demands; which include the payment of N4.75billion demanded as compensation, protection of its members and stopping all forms of multiple taxation and intimidation from security officials on the highways.
President of one of the principal unions, Northern Consensus Movement, Awwal Aliu, told our correspondent that the blockade of food items to the south was a blessing in disguise, as its members were afforded the opportunity to explore other angles which has made them exporters of food items to border countries. He said: “Naturally some hundreds of millions were lost towards the non – movement of products but while one side was blocked, another side has been opened.
“While we were not supplying Lagos axis, there was another road through which our food products were being exported to Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and it was more profitable for the traders through the borders than through the south.
“That notwithstanding, we did not do this because we wanted to starve our brothers, it is just because we are trying to make a point that we disagree with what has happened. On fears of a staled relationship with the South as a result of the blockade, Aliu maintained it was more preferable to have a sour relationship than have a situation where hundreds of lives and properties would be lost in a bid to address the issues that led to a resolution to embark on strike.
“It is obvious that the relationship between the north and south will be affected by the strike but which is more preferable between affecting the relationship just because of non -food supply or affect-ing the relationship when one is killing the others? “This one is not the properties that are being lost and the food supplies but where you kill 250 people and above and the people that you kill are not saying we are going to kill you but they are saying that we are going to show you something so that next time you will understand that next time you don’t have to kill us because we are useful to ourselves and the nation.”
Saturday Telegraph recalls that a reconciliatory meeting presided over by the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, was the main reason behind the return in the movement of food items to the south. At that meeting, Aliu had disclosed that the move was not taken to create starvation, but to avert retaliation by its members and Northern youths, who were aggrieved by the killings and destruction of properties targeted at foodstuff and cattle dealers in the south.