By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
Abuja – A cross section of participants at the African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC 2017), have expressed divergent views on the level of preparation and its impact on patronage of goods at the Expo.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja, they offered suggestions on how the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) could improve on subsequent expo at the end of the event in Abuja.
Mouhammed Sene from Senegal said since the event was declared open earlier on Sept.5, patronage has been slow, “but we thank God.
“This year organisation of security is slightly better than that of last year.
“However, I would like the NCAC to do more on publicity and advertisement of the event in radio, television and other media outlets.
“They should also reduce the participation fees especially for those of us from other countries; this is because we spend over N200,000 to fly down here for the expo.
“We paid N40,000 to participate unlike before that it was for free; Before now, we don’t pay anything to participate in the expo, but however we thank God,’’ Sene stressed.
Abba Ali (Mai Tolari) from Chad Republic said,“ I deal in perfume and incense. However, the patronage is low.
“Another challenge we are facing is that when it rains, water penetrates into our shop and destroyed some of our items. Look at these cartoons that we keep our items, water has destroyed them.
“NCAC should try to ensure that the pavilions are constructed in such a way that water will not penetrate into it,’’ Ali said.
Mrs Hanatu Simon, from Senegal said that she enjoyed the exhibition but added “the patronage is not high as we expected; patronage in the previous year was better than this year.
“Recession may be a factor affecting the sales. Also, this September children are returning back to school; parents are thinking of paying school fees instead of buying clothes.
“From my observation, a lot of people in this year’s AFAC did not experience high sales as earlier expected before the commencement of the expo.
“I will advise the NCAC to fix the expo in the month of November, which is towards Christmas period, by then people will be preparing to buy clothes for the celebration.
“That is when they will patronise us more than now that children are resuming school,’’ Simon said.
However, a Nigerian participant, Ms Ijeoma Ugwuata, Chief Executive Officer of `C-Crunches,’ also known as `Kwulikwuli,’ said the expo gave her the opportunity to showcased her products.
“I have been in this business for years now, but my coming to this expo has brought me to limelight and people are partonising me.
“The organisation of the expo is okay. I use to know that this place is not tarred but for the organiser to tar it before the event, I think they did well on that aspect.
“They tried but I would like them to organised the pavilion in such a way that there will be space for people to showcase most of the crafts or products.
“Alternatively, they can get a bigger place that will accommodate participants, because as it is now, there is no enough space,’’ Ugwuata said.
Meanwhile, Mr Martins Onwueme from the Delta State Council for Arts and Culture said they were there to get both local and international markets for the state’s arts and crafts.
“That is why we brought a lot of arts and crafts to the expo. We have always been coming to the event except in 2014 and 2015.
“Our participation has helped to promote our local arts and crafts men and women in the state because they have been able to establish contact within and outside the country.
He commended the organisation for the expo adding that it was the first assignment of the Director-General, Otunba Runsewe since assumption of duty at NCAC.
“The shortcoming at the event was lack of space for people to display their wares.
“You can see that most of our products have spilled out outside and when it rains now, you will see people rushing to pack their things inside,’’ Onwueme said.
NAN reports that the Expo which ended on Sept. 17, had participants from countries including Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Gambia.
Others states participants include Abia, Benue, Bayelsa, Delta, Nasarawa, Kogi, Delta, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Ogun and Taraba.