Crisis looms in Onitsha market as trustees vow to halt govt's caretaker system

By The Citizen

Crisis is currently brewing at the Bridge-head market, Onitsha, Anambra State, following moves by the trustees, patrons and stakeholders of the market to stop the state commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Ifeatu Onejeme from what they termed institutionalization of care-taker system of leadership in the market against democratically elected executive.

They expressed dismay over the state government lukewarm disposition in conducting an election that would usher in a democratically elected market executive, as stipulated in the market constitution. The traders recalled that the incumbent Commerce commissioner, Onejeme and his predecessor during former Governor Peter Obi's past regime, Robert Okonkwo kept inaugurating one caretaker committee after the other and even extending their tenures.

Chairman of the trustees, Chief Robert Ozigbo and a stakeholder in the market, Bonaventure Ucheagwu lamented that since 2008 when Emeka Ilonze-led executive was elected, the two commissioners refused to allow the traders to conduct fresh election even when their four-year tenure terminated in 2012.

The duo who flayed the position of the state government in the administration of the market, stated that the officials involved had ulterior motives. They also said that government officials are only interested in the multiple levies imposed on the traders and not on the welfare.

'The market has over 10,000 shops, from where they collect from each shop as much as N3,000 as market tax; N1,200 as development levy; N1,800 as stallage fee, N200 as capitation rate; N200 as sanitation fee per month, and other levies like security, the commissioners now preferred appointing care-taker committee that would be loyal to them, they stated.

They however disclosed that the revenue being collected from the traders are allegedly not receipted.

This payment system, they said is contrary to the earlier directive of the former Governor, Peter Obi that all government revenues must be paid into government account in designated banks. Vanguard