A market day in the capital city, Lokoja, remains a day of fortune for Mallam Ibrahim Kasir, a dealer in fairly used clothes. Kasir who claimed to be living in a riverine area of Lokoja suburb drew his blood of life from the selling of second-hand materials, especially trousers and shirts, among others for years.
Besides a permanent shade where he displays his wares at the market square at the capital city, he never ceases to go hawking round the city to attract more customers; a tradition which he said pays off sometimes. As one of the soldiers of fortune in the business of fairly used goods, Kasir had been smiling to the bank. According to him, he makes an average sum of N15, 000.00 on market days, and between N6, 000.00 to N9, 000.00 on ordinary hawking days, with the boom period during festivals.
“I’ve a cause to glorify God over my involvement in the selling of second-hand clothes business in this city. The proceeds I realised from this trade have been enlarging my scope of life all this while. I married my second wife from it, training my children and meeting other commitment of life from this trade; I thank God”, he told Friday magazine.
Like kasir, others in this business are having a field day making brisk business out of the trade in the confluence zone of the country. Most of the dealers of these second-hand clothes got their supply from different places in the country. For kasir, Kano, Maiduguri and Jos are his contact areas of refuelling his stocks; yet others sourced their stocks from Lagos and Port Harcourt axis of the country. Besides those that hawk around their wares, sales of fairly used goods are seen conspicuously being displayed in shops and stands in areas like Paparanda Square, Ganaja Junction and Lokogoma Phase 1, among others in the capital city, Lokoja. A curious observer can even spot some of these second hand materials properly packaged and graded by some boutique owners in the city, who colour them with neon lights to attract more pay.
It was also established that whether at the boutiques or at the open markets, the prices of most of the items (second-hand goods) depend on the handling and grade.
The second hand goods are called different names at the various regions in the country. Whatever may be the name being called in any given area, the bottom line of its name remains that it is an article of a fairly used product, otherwise known as second- hand goods in general parlance. In this vein, dealers in these type of goods in Lokoja still retain its popular names like ‘Okrika’, ‘Bend-down-select’ and ‘Tokumbo’ among others to lure their customers for patronage.
According to Abdul Maliki, a Lokoja based social crusader and human rights activist, the sales of second hand clothes will continue to boom because of the poverty ravaging the society and the inability of the successive administrations in the country to provide enabling environment for the nation’s economy to catch up with the developed countries of the world. Though Maliki did not lose sight of the quality of such goods over the home products, he said everything still boils down to the policy of subsequent governments that refuses to encourage diversification of economy.
“The use of second-hand wares has become a way of life in this country; virtually everything we use in homes today is Tokumbo: wares, food items, drugs, vehicles, name them; to me, it is a sign of systemic failure as a nation”, he expressed.
He stressed further that since government has not deemed it right to provide alternatives to second-hand goods consumption, the business will continue to boom uncontrollably, with the attendant consequences on the society. When asked whether a legislation against it may shift consumption pattern, the human rights activist said that will only encourage smuggling with concomitant effect on the nation, adding that the government need to overhaul its policy to encourage genuine investors to the country where the abundance of human and material resources that are abound can be utilised for the benefit of the populace.
“Why don’t we create conducive atmosphere for these investors to come in and invest for the second hand-goods they are shipping to this country to be produced locally with the necessary quality or contents”, he lamented.
The patronage of second hand clothes appears to have weathered the storm all these years. Like the confluence areas end users of these products, the fears associated with the first user’s hygienic status, and the possibility of contacting sickness from some of such articles being displayed for sales has been very high among the eventual end users.
Many enlightened minds have been raising alarm over the continuous patronage of second hand wares, especially, the under wares like brassieres, pants and other body hog, considering the prevalence of some generational diseases like HIV(aid) and the current dreadful one called Ebola. To this group of thought, some of these fairly used articles may be carrying some of the viruses associated with these dreadful and killer diseases, since one is ignorant of the status of the last user.
Dousing this fear is a popular dealer in second-hand goods in the Lokoja city, Mr Emmanuel Kadebe at Paparanda Square Lokoja. He said all the fairly used materials being sold have been treated to certain acceptable international standard before their shipping to the country.
He added that the fear of the wares carrying virus of any of these generational diseases is unfounded, stressing that the outbreak of Ebola scourge has not affected the rate of his sales. “I bought two different types of fairly used body hog yesterday and some inner wears; it remains a better quality, besides fitting my kind of body, anytime I put it on”, a housewife and a civil servant, Jumai Ataidoko said.
However, Dr Simeon Oyegun of the specialist hospital, Lokoja enjoined the second hand ware buyers to be cautious since the sources of some of these clothes are not really known. “For now, like keeping off from eating of bush meat, one has to be very careful in the buying of second hand clothes. You may not know whether the clothes have contact with the fluid of a sufferer. Some dealers may get their supply from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone; you can never tell what Nigerians can do. The situation calls for caution by all until the wave of it subsides”, he advised.


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