The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON), representing millions of working people in the informal sectors of the Nigerian economy,has asked Walmart, the global retail trade giant, not to come and invest in Nigeria.
Despite the optimism by many, the workers argued that ordinary people will suffer in the long run. The workers, in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State, signed by Gbenga Komolafe, General Secretary, said they are concerned because millions of retail businesses including street and market vendors, some of who happen to be their members face the threat of being displaced from business by this global behemoth.
Shelley Broader, President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart Incorporated Europe, Middle East, Africa and Canada recently paid a visit to Governor Ambode in a quest to establish business presence in Nigeria starting with Lagos. Ambode welcomed the Walmart executives while pledging his commitment to create “an enabling environment” for the global retail company because “the presence of the brand in Lagos will go a long way not only to create jobs for our teeming youths, but also to boost the economy of the state…”
However, the workers disagreed. According to them: “As it is, millions of jobs have been lost in Nigeria in the last two decades as a result of Nigeria’s extreme open market policy which has turned the country to a dumping ground of, very often, fake, sub-substandard goods from all over the world especially, in recent years, China. Given Nigeria’s well known infrastructural deficiencies, Nigerian manufactured goods stood no chance as hundreds of factories closed down, rendering millions of Nigerians jobless or with low paying work in the informal sectors of the economy.”
They added that today, in a city like Lagos, easily Nigeria’s most industrialized enclave, over 80% of the working population scrape subsistence in the informal economy, a significant percentage of this, in retail trade in the neighbourhoods and the communities.
Walmart, renowned for its dismal record of systematically easing out small time retailers in the communities because of its extremely low wage, undercutting low pricing policy which is made possible by its slave camp manufacturing plants in South East Asia, will, as the workers argued, easily uproot local retailers and neighbourhood markets in Lagos.
They said they were sure of the outcome because of Walmart’s bad records in the United States of America and also across so many other countries it operates in. Studies after studies have shown that while Walmart offers some low paying jobs, it actually uproots several more people from their retail business, than it offers its poverty wage jobs, the workers revealed.