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Resource persons at the recently-held workshop for entrepreneurs in Enugu agree that sincerity, steadfastness and integrity are the key factors for sound economic development in the state. Speaking from the background of easy access to justice and building solid base in entrepreneurship, the speakers at the forum stated that with diligent compliance to the standard practices, the ease of doing business in the state would be enhanced.

In her speech, the director of multi-door courts house in Enugu state, Mrs Etuk, called on the citizenry to embrace the services of the courts to save them time and money. She said most court judgments do not permanently resolve litigations because they always end on one side winning the other. “But in the case of multi-door courts, it is a win-win situation.

First, the duration of cases is shorter than what is obtainable in conventional courts. In other words, let us have a court with many doors, where those involved will go, and check where their kind of cases can be handled. Nigeria is the first country in Africa to start this multi-door concept in Lagos state in 2002. Sixteen states of the federation have adopted this concept. Enugu is now the 17th.”

She said the multi-door courts are anchored on mediation. In her word, “If you like, bring a lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, it does not matter. You are the one to talk by yourself; you and the other party will look for a solution to the problem. The mediator is trained to help both parties to arrive at a solution. When this is done, and documents for settlement are signed, the matter will be sent to a judge. By our rule, once the document is signed, it becomes a judgment of a high court or Magistrates Court of Enugu state. You can imagine that a case that would have lasted for over six years can be settled within three weeks.”

She said in case a party reneges on the agreement, the apparatus of the judiciary is used to enforce it, adding that it is cheaper and cost effective. On who can file a case in a multi-door court, she said it is open for everybody. “You will be given a form to sign. We take it up from there. We invite the other party and engage both. A mediator will be assigned to such a case to preside. If the matter settles, it becomes a judgment. The advantage is that it is a win-win situation.

The second way is if you already have a case in the court, the case can be transferred to a multi-door court. A negotiation begins; if the matter is settled, the case will be sent to a court as a judgment. If otherwise, one can still return to the conventional court to continue with the case. These are the ways multi-door court can help resolve problems. It is simple and straightforward.”

She said the court is located at the premises of the high court in Enugu, and made convenient for both the old and physically challenged. She further called on the beneficiaries of the Enugu SME Centre to embrace the services of the court. According to her, “If you are coming as a member of the SME Centre, we are going to give you an absolute rock-bottom discount on our services. We simply want you to show proof that you belong to the SME. It is good to contact us before engaging lawyers. I call on the SME operators to embrace our services. We also recover debts.”

Mrs Etuk was asked whether the court is a government agency and offers free services; whether it handles land and death-related matters; whether it can operate outside the state; and if its rulings can be appealed. She answered in affirmative. She called on the people whose rights were being trampled upon to contact the office for proper intervention.

The special adviser to Enugu State Governor on Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr Anayo Agu, commended Mrs Etuk for the lecture, adding that he invited her to the event because the services rendered by her agency were essential to the SME Centre.

“It is essential for the SME Centre. Multi-door courts are basically using technology to change the old Umunna approach to issues. We have left this approach for many reasons because of variations in cultures. It is because of this that we decided to tap from Mrs Etuks wealth of experience. I commend her and believe that this center will use her agency to recover our bad debts while our operators will also utilize it to settle their own problems.”

Mr Agu maintained that the Enugu SME Centre is out to create wealth and eradicate poverty but warned against lies.
“If you have good character, integrity and sincerity, be assured that we shall give you the best. The governor is determined to make our economy viable not minding affiliations. It is a social contract.”

Also speaking on the theme “sharing experience” the president of Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Pharm Emeka Udeze, went down memory lane on his journey to success, and urged the audience to learn from him. “I have been in the private sector all my life. During the Nigerian civil war, we were refugees at Nnobi. I started a little business. From there, I keyed into my sister who was involved in “afia attach”.

We were passing through the enemy lines. I was going to get groundnuts which my sister sold. I had money. I kept it in cartons inside our ceiling. Nobody knew I had it. I kept it until after the war. When it was time to change it, I gave it to my father who was surprised.

“Because I had this flare, after the war, I made five shillings which I used to start a bread selling business. I was also encouraged by the son of Justice Obi Okoye who was a conductor. From the bread, I made money to pay my school fees, and buy my school materials. I moved on and finished my secondary school.”

He said he later attended the University of Ife and studied pharmacy. He did his National Youth Service in Benue State where he was launched into entrepreneurship by his contacts and exposure during the service.
“After the youth service, I returned to Enugu, and rented a shop. My plan was to open a pharmacy shop and a travel agency. I could not successfully run that shop for over one year. Then I became a salesman with a company; a difficult task. I was paid on a commission basis. Under this challenge, I met my wife.”

He said the factors that determine the success of a man in life included the kind of wife one marries, sincerity, being a good listener and the grace of God. He also identified how government policies can affect businesses, but urged entrepreneurs to be alert to survive the storm.

“The solution is to upgrade your level. Before going into businesses, check the market forces and things that are trending.”
Mr Anayo Agu, Special Adviser to Enugu State Governor on SME and Investment Promotion, in a speech, called on entrepreneurs to be equipped for the businesses they want to embark on. According to him, “If one has knowledge, skills and no money, the best option for the person is partnership. Go to the areas that you have an edge, and you are ahead.”

Mr Agu called on those that applied for loans and yet to get funds to remain calm. He attributed the delay to the political tension pervading this period. He said the process is ongoing, and would not be affected by politics because it an SME-CBN affair. He said the delay was as a result of network problems which would soon be rectified by the CBN.”

He thanked Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for ensuring the payment of the state counterpart funding in the scheme, and urged the electorate to re-elect him to sustain the conducive business atmosphere in the state.
According to him, “The businesses in the state is guaranteed because the governor will be re-elected. For us in Enugu, there is no anxiety concerning whether the governor will come back. For those whose applications are being processed, after the interviews, we shall submit them to the CBN. I urge applicants not to submit fake documents, rather seek help from us because we are there to serve you.”