Nnewi is the second largest city in Anambra State and remains the industrial and commercial hub in the Anambra and Nigeria.
Despite the growing number of industries in Nnewi, the town came to limelight in Nigeria in 1970, when the town Nnewi started controlling approximately 80 to 90 percent of the motor-parts and motorcycle trade in Nigeria. This necessitated the numerous large and small markets in the town including Nkwo Nnewi which is the largest auto and motocycle spare parts market in West Africa. Nkwo Nnewi Market is the major import and wholesale point for motor spare parts in Nigeria.
According to history, The love for auto industry by Nnewi people was what made Sir Louis Ojukwu, the father of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi) and HRH Igwe Orizu I (Eze Ugbo Onya Mba) to be the first Igbo men to own and drive a car.
The motorcycle market at Nnewi has developed to the extent that dealers in collaboration with their manufactures now have products made and sold in local branded names.
From the records, it appears that Nkwo Nnewi remains the only economic attraction in Nnewi despite the few industries in the town. However, if urgent and responsible steps are not taken in the nearest possible time by Nnewi Stakeholders and the government, the economy of Nnewi will collapse and this will lead to massive loss of jobs.
With the attendant challenges being faced with the use of motorcycle as a means of transportation and with the growing availability of modern means of transport, motorcycle spare parts business will soon collapse.
In Nigeria today, the banning of motorcycle popularly known as Okada as a means of transportation in many state have increased due criminal activities perpetrated by some of the motorcycle operators. Criminal activities like snatching of bags, phones, jewelries, goods and wallets are associated with motorcycle operators as motorcycle provides the easiest means of escape for perpetrators of crimes and with other safety and environmental issues.
In the past, walking was the main means of transportation on land but later it became the use of carriages, bicycles, trains, cars and motorcycles, the traditional motorcycles have also been improved into tricycles, long buses and even saloon cars.
Most industrialist in Nnewi like Innoson, Tummy Tummy Group, Coscharis, Ngoobros and few others were all in motorcycle parts business but being visionary businessmen they realise the need to diversify into production. Who knows, their decision was premised on the fact that they know that machine parts business will one day lose its usefulness. The truth of the matter is that day is nearer than expected. With the banning of motorcycle at Onitsha and Awka and Nnewi to follow soonest, Nkwo Nnewi traders have already begun to experience a sharp decline in sales and there will be no recovery moving forward. No amount of prayers can reverse this.
It is believed that anybody who wants to fight progress and civilisation will always end up on the wrong side of history. There is no civilization with motorcycles as a “major” means of transportation in a world where electric cars are expected to completely take over fuel cars in 10-20 years from now. So the question is what is the future and relevance of Nnewi in few years time with the decline of motorcycle trade?
Speaking with Mazi Tobe Osigwe, he proposed technology. In his words, “Nnewi must embrace the learning and use of technology as quickly as possible. This will help to turn Nnewi into a Silicon Valley or turn Nnewi into a new Industrial hub that major in production and not buying and selling as we have now”. Mazi Tobe’s proposed solution may sound elitist and elusive however one thing is certain, Nkwo Nnewi is beginning to lose its relevance and something proactive needs to be done.
It is time for Nnewi should go beyond buying and selling, we start investing in other businesses that can continue make Nnewi be economically relevant in Anambra and Nigeria. Which should start looking at other Products we can start import or even start Producing.
We should stop neglecting businesses like the Hospitality industry, Real Estate, integrated transport system, Media, the entertainment industry, revolutionizing fashion designing, event planning and Internet Companies.