By Chuks Eke
Stakeholders at the popular Bridge-Head Drug Market in Onitsha, Anambra State have appealed to Governor Chukwuma Soludo to conduct an election in the market to produce elected executive, as against the present government appointed caretaker committee in the market popularity called ‘Ogbogwu market’.
They suggested that government should authorise the trusttees of the market to conduct the election and elect credible leaders to pilot the affairs of the Ogbogwu market.
The stakeholders, under the aegis of Concerned People of Ogbogu, CPO said the call for an election became imperative because the management of drug markets in Nigeria is under the exclusive list of the federal government, adding that the Onitsha drug market is not an exception.
The group in a press statement issued yesterday and jointly signed by its national coordinator, Mr Emmanuel Ozoemenam, Mr Osita Sopuluchukwu and Mr Ozioma Okeke, representing Chairmen and Secretaries of Lines in the market, said the traders had in May 2023, written to Governor Soludo, through his Chief of Staff, CoS, Ernest Ezeajughi over their concerns in the market; but the governor appeared to have ignored them, since they were yet to get any response from the state government.
They warned that if within a reasonable time frame the state government refused to permit them to elect the market leadership themselves, they would be left with no option than to go to court to oust the existing caretaker leadership.
The statement reads in part: “In 2020, during the regime of Governor Willie Obiano, the Bridge Head Drug Market obtained court judgement restraining the state government from appointing caretaker leadership in the market on the ground that the market should be controlled by the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Health”.
“The traders, by this statement, are also calling on Governor Charles Soludo, to allow traders in the market to organize election and elect their own leaders; because, the market is under the exclusive list of the federal government, and Anambra State does not have the authority to appoint caretaker leadership in the market.
“Governor Soludo is, by this statement reminded that when he came to power, he appointed caretaker leadership in the Bridge Head Drug Market, and promised that election would be organized in the market within one year. One year has come and gone, but nothing happened”.
“What we owe the state is the IGR accruing from the market, and we always remit same to the state government coffers. Si, why can’t government allow us to practice democracy in our market?”
They mentioned so many other markets in the state, including Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, ASMATA, the umbrella body of all markets in the state where appointed caretaker committees are incharge, insisting that such a trend is no longer attainable in an era of democracy.
But in his reaction, Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of Ogbogwu market, Hon. Chukwuleta Ndubuisi told newsmen that he and his caretaker committee members were not aware of any group known as Concerned People of Ogbogwu, neither does such a group exist in the market.
Ndubuisi noted that what the traders need is good leadership which is capable of satisfying their yearnings and aspirations and making the market environment conducive for trading and not necessarily whether they were elected or appointed.
He said apart from remitting government revenue as and when due, his committee is presently sponsoring free medical tests and treatments, as well as provision of other facilities in the market which the traders themselves can attest to.
Chief of Staff to Governor Soludo, Ernest Ezeajughi who spoke to newsmen on phone about the development, said at the moment, all government officials are preoccupied with Soludo’s develop mental agenda so much so that a little or no attention could be paid to such a programme like market election.
He however added that as soon as chance is created, he would look into all the complaints from various parts of the state, including that of Concerned People of Ogbogwu.