By Christiana Ukung Alawa
The Chief Executive Officer of Toja Fashion Alternative, Tochukwu Onwutao, a traditional fashion outfit in Calabar, Cross River State has called on the state government to ameliorate the sufferings of private businesses with respect to high taxation.
He made the call in a chart with CrossRiverWatch recently where he stated that: “Most of the tax they bring here is because we are in Cross River, there is no way we won’t pay so that they don’t have problem with us, we must pay but it is something else, we still give God praise that we are able to pay till date because the tax is high, like in other states whenever you mention the money you pay in tax people may not believe it because it is relatively lower than here, but down here it’s really high”.
Tochukwu called on the state government to critically look into the plea of small business owners in the state for government to consider a new tax regime that will be favourable for business in the state as the present regime is killing small businesses.
Summing up his tax for a year he said, “Its almost 150 to 160 thousand naira per year. You see a lot of people coming from different angles, and you must pay, when they come with these boys (touts), there is no way you won’t like to pay because you won’t love to have problem with them”.
Toja Fashion Alternative according to the CEO has been in existence for 5 years now and is focused on only men clothing such as suites, caftans and especially native (African) wears made from local fabrics.
Sharing other challenges apart from high taxation he said, “You know in every business there must always be challenges, some people see some of the fabrics as expensive, there are cheaper ones but we don’t like doing the cheaper ones because the colors fade so easily and the customers are not always happy when the color fades, so we don’t like doing those ones that will wash away”.
According to him African fashion and design is thriving in the state and country at large because people are learning how to dress like Africans. “You know before now you go to occasions something like weddings, traditional marriages, child dedication you see everybody wearing suites: you know the white people wear suites because their weather is cold. Abroad people cover jackets because its cold but here we are hot so there is no way you can dress exactly like them. I’m happy people have started dressing like Africans”.
He postulated that ‘in the next 5 to 10 years, lots of people will embrace this homemade style of dressing because it is embedded in our age long customs and traditions. He revealed that presently he has 12 students undergoing training on African fashion and designing.
When asked if in future he will start making female dresses, his answer was a blunt No saying, “Not that I cannot make female clothes but a lot of complains come out from them because of their shapes and some of them want their shapes to show, like married women who will not like some designs because they want to dress like younger girls and look sharp.
“We are not abroad, if it is Western world people dress that way, here we are not advised to dress that way, so we see a lot of complains, that’s why I stopped making it and decided to capitalize and specialize on male clothes because whenever it’s fine, they go with joy and happiness and bring back a lot of people to you but for female no way”.
He also enjoined upcoming fashion designers to remain steadfast in the pursuit of their dreams and maintain a clean slate in their business transactions.
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