This study was to appraise the supply regulation, product quality regulation and market administration activities of Onitcha market traders’ Association to assessing their role in the economic development of Anambra state. This study was motivated by the vital role markets play in the revamping and revitalizing of an ailing economy. The study sought to: (i) determine whether the traders’ associations through their activities promote consumers’ confidence, (ii) find out whether the traders’ association restrict supply entry into the market by non-members, (iii) examine the effort of the association to ensure that only genuine products are sold in the markets; (iv) identify efficient and effective means of collecting revenue from the market by government agents without engaging in confrontation with the traders; (v) assess the means of creating an interface between the government and the traders to promote peaceful co-existence and (vi) determine whether traders’ association have the potential to fast track Nigeria’s economic development. The study was a descriptive survey conducted in the two major markets of the south eastern states of Nigeria.The population of the study was one hundred and twelve thousand, five hundred and thirty-five registered traders from the two markets, and the customers and itinerant traders that have either bought or sold in these markets. A sample size of five hundred and forty respondents was selected using Taro Yamane (1964) and Topman’s formulae (as cited in Nwabokei 1986). Primary and secondary data were used, the research instrument was predominantly questionnaire. A simple stratified sampling technique was adopted in selecting the sample size. A pilot survey was conducted at Ogbete market among thirty respondents. Validity of the research instrument was measured using face and content validity. Reliability measurement of the instrument was the test-retest method. The Pearson Product Moment Coefficient for the two sets was 0.7. Tables and percentages were used in analyzing the primary data while the t-test statistic was used to analyse the hypotheses. The study revealed that hike in price and poor quality product offering impacted negatively on consumers’ confidence (t-value 7.897, sig. = 0.000). Non member traders were not significantly restricted from bringing wares to the markets (t = 5.431, sig. 0.059). Enough efforts were not put in place by the association to ensure that only genuine products are sold (Tt = 1.96 > Tc = 1.67,  = 0.05). The potentials of the traders’ associations if well harnessed could fast track the economic development of Nigeria (Tt = 1.96 < Tc = 2.5,  = 0.05). The study also revealed that the relationship between the government and the associations are not very cordial, the government does not have a database for all business establishments in the markets thus leading to loss of revenue. Also the associations do not have a coordinated market information gathering and dissemination system. The study recommended that the government should partner with traders association in policy formulations. Government should through the relevant Ministry compile a database of all business activities. This will help to reduce tax aversion and ease traders’ access to loan facilities. The association should develop an Internal Market Surveillance Unit (IMSU) to fish out and blacklist members that deal on fake and substandard products and also develop a system of gathering and dissemination of information among members.

1.1 Background of the Study
The market is the focal point for all economic activities; a means for addressing all the economic needs of man giving man’s inability to satisfy all his needs personally.

The emergence of traders’ associations in the markets according to Onah et al (2006:29) and Columbia Encyclopedia (2008) were to administer the market, promote the welfare of the members, maintain a mutual coexistence and profit maximization objective, while protecting the members from external forces that can negate these objectives. Little or no regards were paid to the welfare of the consumers.

The global economic realities: rising cost of living, dwindling economic power of families, dwindling value of the currency, falling standard of living, low per capita income with many families living below an income of less than one dollar a day, market globalization, growing level of sophistication and maturity of consumers, increasing consumer awareness and above all the global economic melt down have made consumers to become more conscious of their expenditure patterns. Stemming from these, households are more pragmatic on how they meet their daily needs. This development has made the consumers to insist on the best at the least cost and the practical demonstration of the consumer oriented marketing concept principles.

The market is a veritable source of revenue to the government. A pragmatic traders’ association assists the government in revenue generation from the market so as to improve social development. This aspect has been played down over the years due to the buoyant subventions received by different tiers of government from the federation account. Due to the global economic recession, the government now interferes more strongly in the administration of the market as a source of revenue generation.

The varying interests of the associations, the consumers and the government have created a lacuna. This study therefore will appraise the roles of some selected activities of these traders’ associations to finding out whether or not they promote economic growth and development.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
The role of the market place in the alleviation of poverty and socioeconomic growth and development of the nation cannot be overemphasized. The market place provides the enabling environment for innovations and creative abilities of the citizenry to be showcased (Ezenyimba, 2009:11). The onitcha market traders associations will tend to be the institution to facilitate the achievement of this goal of economic growth and development. Market associations are nonfinancial institutions that tend to regulate, direct and stabilize growth

and development in the market place. The fact is that the existence/non-existence mode of operation and impact of these associations have generated varying degrees of misconceptions owing to their roles in price fixation and supply regulation leading to loss of consumer confidence. In the light of the above Huggin (2002:47) characterized the traders associations as self-centred with little or no regards to the consumers satisfaction and welfare. Having seen the characteristics of the traders associations and their various constraining roles to marketing development, this research work will be based on the following problems.

Modern marketing management identified the consumer oriented marketing concept as the base for economic growth. The concept contends that all the activities of the marketer should be channeled at satisfying the consumers. The marketing mix variables (product, price, place and promotion) should be manipulated in such a way that it will offer the highest utility to the consumer at a minimal cost. Thus, the consumer is the “King” and his satisfaction is most paramount. A situation where the activities of the traders in the market place are aimed at profit maximization at the expense of the consumer’s satisfaction creates a problem. Consumers in the bid to enforce their right have most often ended in a big confrontation with the traders.

Competition sharpens the creative edge of the competitors, promote innovative ideas and broadens the market, thus helping to control the arbitrary rise of costs of goods and services. To achieve a sustainable economic growth, there must be a healthy competition among the traders and the market place is seen to provide such platform. Traders should have free access to the market and sell their wares at market regulated prices. Lyon (2003:35) observed that the tomato dealers of Accra, Ghana do not allow non-members to sell in the market except to a member at the union stipulated price. Also a study at Enugu metropolis markets revealed that at the fowl market at Artisan market Asata non-members are allowed to sell only on Wednesday s and Sundays. This practice does not allow for healthy competition, discourages production, encourages exploitation and generates bad blood.

In the capitalist and mixed economic systems, there is no limit to the amount of wealth one could enmass. In these economic systems there are virtually two classes of beings: the rich and the poor, with the gap in between them ever increasing. In the quest to belong to the class of the rich; traders engage in various dubious means to make wealth. Some of this can be seen in the form of production and sale of fake and adulterated products. This has caused immeasurable damage to lives and property of consumers.

The Nigerian economy has for long been oil based. The volatile nature of the oil market has created the worries of looking for non-oil sources to sustain the economy. In the same vein, the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) sources have not been radically harnessed owing to huge subventions received by the three tiers of government from the federation account. In a country like Singapore, internally generated revenue from the market accounted for 12.05% of their revenue in 2005 (World Economic Review 2006). The radical drop in oil prices globally has necessitated the need to harness other sources of revenue and the market place provides such source.

Therefore, the crux of the matter is, how to co-ordinate the activities of the onitcha market traders associations to fast track economic growth and put Nigeria on the part of achieving economic greatness to compete with other developing countries favourably.

1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of this study is to determine the activities and the importance of the activities of onitcha market traders’ association in economic growth and development.

Specifically, the study strives to:
(1) determine whether the traders’ associations through their activities promote consumers’ confidence;

(2) find out whether the traders’ associations restrict nonmembers supplies from entering the market;

(3) examine the effort of the traders associations to ensure that only genuine products are sold in the markets;

(4) identify efficient and effective means of collecting revenue from the markets by government without engaging in confrontation with the traders.

(5) assess the means of creating an interface between the government and the traders’ association to promote peaceful co-existence.

(6) determine whether traders’ associations have the potentials: job creation, standard of living improvement and physical infrastructural development to fast track Nigeria’s economic development.

1.4 Research Questions
In the quest to provide a workable solution to the research problems, it is imperative to draw up certain guidelines to aid the decision process. In the light of the above, the following questions were to serve as a guide to the researcher.

(1) What positive impact has the onitcha market traders’ association have in the promotion of consumers’ confidence?

(2) To what extent have the onitcha market traders association restricted non-members from bringing supply to the market?

(3) What steps have onitcha market traders associations taken to ensure that only genuine products are traded in the market?

(4) What are the various means by which government can generate revenue from the market?

(5) Have the administration of the traders association promoted effective generation of revenue by the government agencies from the markets?

(6) What potentials do traders’ associations have to fast track Nigeria’s economic development?

1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were formulated to aid the researcher’s decision.

1. Trader’s association activities (hike in price and poor product quality offering) negatively impacted on consumers’ confidence.

2. Non-member traders’ supplies are not significantly restricted from the markets.

3. There is not enough effort by traders associations to ensure that only genuine goods are traded in the markets.

4. Traders’ associations have no potentials to fast track Nigeria’s economic development.

1.6 Significance of the Study
The fundamental aim of a research undertaking is to generate knowledge which may lead to a solution to a felt problem. The research unveils some facts which were before then unknown and consequent upon this new knowledge emerges. The new knowledge becomes a platform for vigorous intellectual discussion and further research. Usually an enquiry into the subject matter deepens’ scholars receive more intellectual insight on the subject thus contributing to the existing body of knowledge.

Stemming from this, the product of this research will be significant to researchers, the consumers, customers, non-member traders, the associations, the government and the society at large.

The researchers, the study will serve as a reserved knowledge to be referred by researchers and throw more light on traders’ association activities. It will contribute immensely to the enrichment of the literature in that area.

The consumers will understand the activities of the onitcha market traders’ associations and how it influences the supply and price of products. This will enable them make adjustment on where and when to make purchases.

The customers will benefit from this study by becoming aware of their rights and what to do when such is infringed.

The study will be of significance to the non-member traders. It will expose them to what they stand to gain as members and what they have been loosing as non-members.

The study will be beneficial to the association as it serves as a means of advertising the association. It also exposes them to what they are expected to do to promote the confidence of the customers.

The government will also benefit from this study. It will unveil the activities of the association, attracting government attention to looking into these activities to finding out how they impede or contribute to economic growth and development. It will also help to fashion government decision in policy formulation and the need to dialogue with the association in certain issues.

The society at large will benefit from the study. The society will become more aware of the activities of the onitcha market traders’ association and appraise their good virtues while vehemently resist any negative tendencies.

1.7 Scope of the Study
The activities of traders’ associations in onitcha markets can be summarized into five headings:

1. Supply regulation activities

2. Product quality control activities

3. Market administration

4. Informative activities

5. Welfare activities

This research hinges on studying the roles of traders’ association in Nigerian markets. This study concentrates on the supply regulation, product quality regulation and market administration activities of traders’ associations. This study was motivated by the important roles markets play in the growth and development of the economy and the revitalizing and revamping high standard of living in an ailing economy such as ours.

The research will investigate the reasons why the market place which provides crucial opportunity for business activities and the bottom line for the economic emancipation and growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Anambra state has been characterised with activities of clandestine – like unions that tend to negate the true purpose of the existence of the markets. This research thus strives to find out the importance or otherwise of the activities of these associations.

1.8 Limitations of the Study
The conduct of research in developing countries Nigeria inclusive is bedeviled with lots of problems ranging from draught of information to deliberate withhold of information.

However, in this research the following problems were encountered.

(a) Draught of information as very few studies have been conducted in this very area of unionism.

(b) Delay in filling and returning questionnaires from the respondents.

(c) Apathy on the side of the onitcha market traders’ executives to the researcher posed a problem.

(d) Deliberate withhold of information by the onitcha market traders’ executives who are not sure whether such information will be used for external purpose. Meanwhile, the researcher did all within his powers to get as much information as possible.

(e) Financial constraint: The researcher was financially restrained as huge amount of money was required to carry out a detailed study and this research was being financed by the researcher himself.

(f) Time constraint: The researcher could not get all the required information due to the limited time allowed for this study.

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