Achida market: Where Nigerian, foreign traders converge for cheap cows , goats

AchidaAchida is an international cattle market located in Wurno Local Government Area of Sokoto State, where different kinds of animals ranging from cows, sheep to goats are sold. To prevent rancour among traders the market leaders devised a method. OLAKUNLE MARUF reveals in this report how the leaders have sustained peaceful transactions among traders in the market.

THE name Achida market may not ring a bell, but for those in the business of buying and selling of cattle and other animals like sheep, donkeys, camels and goats, it is an international trading centre. Business booms every week but every trader has to make sure that they don’t buy beyond their financial capacity though, and there is a reason for this.

Located about 20 kilometres away from Sokoto township in Wurno Local Government Area of the state, along the Sokoto-Goronyo road, its importance as an international cattle market has changed the fortune of  the town, owing to the commercial activities going taking place there, especially every Tuesday and Wednesday.

Though every Wednesday is the real international cattle market day, activities often begin to build up from the previous day as traders arrive from every part of the country, including neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroun.

To a first time visitor, activities at Achida cattle market could be quite amazing given the volume of activities, including buying and selling of other commodities ongoing on the sideline.

When Arewa Live visited the town last Monday, the town looked so quiet and sparsely populated, almost like a ghost town, compared to a second visit on Wednesday, the market day. There were noticeable changes right from the entrance of the town, with different checkpoints manned by operatives of the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service and men of the local vigilance groups.

Abdullahi Muhammad Tukur, who sells rams and sheep and has been patronising the market for close to 20 years, told Arewa Live that the market is  always very busy every Wednesday when traders gather to trade in domestic animals..

“I don›t know any other business apart from the rams and sheep that I sell here. My customers come from different parts of the country and we always communicate by mobile phone whenever they couldn›t make it down here. Most of our customers that come here know that there is a difference between what they buy in Achida when compared to any other markets in the state.

“Here, we have whatever type of cattle one needs, more than any other market in other local government areas of the state, such as Wamakko, Kware, Bodinga, Dange-Shuni and many others. This is why you see people from different parts of the country, including some neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Chad and even Cameroun, who have come to either “buy or sell,” Abdullahi explained.

AchidaChairman of Ram Sellers Association in the market, Alhaji Abdullahi Sheu Achida, also disclosed to Arewa Live that his father, whom he inherited the trade from, told him that the market has been in existence for over a century, with business being transacted without hitch or controversy.

Alhaji Achida explained that animals in the market attract huge patronage because of their competitive prices. Given the huge volume of business activities going on in the market, the leadership of the market association, he disclosed, had also devised  ways of protecting the interests of customers against fraudulent individuals.

According to him: “one of the major reasons why you see customers from different parts of the country and some from neighbouring countries is that our cattle are of high quality and we sell at a very reasonable price.

“We try as much as we can to maintain the integrity of the market. The moment we discovered anyone among our people to be fraudulent or not trustworthy, we quickly report such people to the law enforcement agents, and make sure we expel such character from the market completely.”

Also speaking, one of the market association leaders, Alhaji Hanaifi Mohammed Kware, disclosed that one of the things that make the market to stand out amongst others s in the country is that there is no credit sales whatsoever in the market.

According to him, all goods are sold based on cash and carry basis, unlike some neighbouring markets where credit sales are allowed, which could sometimes lead to crises among sellers and buyers.

A regular customer to Achida international cattle market, Mrs Solagbade Fatima, who came from Oranyan market in Ibadan, Oyo State, narrated to Arewa Live that, she has been patronising Achida market for close to 30 years

According to her, “this is where we normally come to get our domestic animals, though there are many cattle market along the road from Ibadan to Sokoto here. We have cattle markets in Mokwa, Jebba, Bode- Saadu and even Kontagora, but we prefer this place.

“We are sure of getting value for our money here and get them (sheep and goats) at a reasonable price. Our customers also use to commend the taste of the meat we get here, which they said is of good quality.”

She, however, revealed that there are two batches of her fellow traders who come from Ibadan on alternate weeks, an arrangement which affords them the opportunity of only visiting the market every two weeks.

Bayo is another cattle trader from Ibadan. He also revealed that he inherited the business from his father and Achida market remains the only market his father introduced to him in the North, and he has been patronising the market for close to 10 years now without any regrets.

He explained that it is not only the prices of the animals that attract traders like him to the market but also the good customer relations between the operators of the market and the customers.

Arewa Live also came across a trader from Enugu State, Ifeanyi Onyechukwu. Unlike others whose mission was to buy cattle, rams and goats, Ifeanyi came to Achida to buy donkeys. He disclosed that he visits the market every Wednesday for business, describing Achida market as his destination for cheaper donkeys.

But why donkeys? Onyechukwu explained that donkey meat is a delicacy among his numerous customers and the expanding list of his clientele often ensures that he patronises the market frequently.

Abdullahi Abdulraheem, a resident of the town also corroborated others’ views on the importance of the market to the economy of the town. He disclosed that other petty businesses like food vending, sale of suya and drinks are doing well too to the extent that some of the traders only display their goods only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and rest till the following week.

Despite bringing the town to international limelight and generating revenue for both the Wurno local government and the state government, the market still lacks basic infrastructure that belies its status.

One of the market leaders, Alhaji Tuno Mairago Achida, told Arewa Live that traders face a lot of challenges especially during the rainy season, as there is no single structure or shade for them within the market.

“Imagine as we are talking now, if rain starts right away, there is nowhere to run to; we are left to continue with our normal activities in the rain. There are no toilets for either male or female traders that befit the status of the market.

“The local government authorities collect revenue per cattle head here every market day from us and yet you hardly see any government presence in the market. This market is the major reason everyone in this country and even beyond knows Achida,” he lamented.

The market leaders, therefore, appealed to the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and the authorities of Wurno Local Government to give Achida market the facelift befitting of its status.