Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Markets elders in Anambra State, under the Anambra State Markets Elders Forum (ASMEF), have expressed concern over the state government’s penchant for removing democratically elected chairmen of markets and replacing them with appointed caretaker committee members.
The group warned that such an ugly development would not augur well for a healthy market environment because according to them, since Nigeria is presently practicing democracy, we should allow democracy to trickle down to other segments of the country, including markets and town unions.
The ASMEF Chairman and Secretary, Dede Uzor A. Uzor and Cyprian Mgbemena, respectively, sounded this note of warning, at the weekend, in Onitsha, while speaking to newsmen.
They said institutionalising care-taker management system in the markets was an old pattern of leadership which should not be encouraged by individuals or government itself.
Uzor and Mgbemena cited an example of Onitsha Main market where the elected chairman, Mr. Gozie Okeke was recently removed unceremoniously midway into his tenure and replaced with a care-taker committee.
They also complained that the incumbent chairmen of Ochanja Central market and Onitsha Electronics market counterparts were removed from office while their tenure are still running and immediately replaced with caretaker committees.
They contended that the worst aspect of it all was that those being appointed as caretaker committee chairmen are from Omambala area of the state, an indication that there is a clash of interest, adding, “we need to sustain democratically elected leadership in the markets and not to dismantle democracy and replace it with caretaker arrangement, particularly when there is no crisis in any of the markets to warrant appointment of caretaker leadership”.
They however commended Governor Willie Obiano for setting up a task force to remove all the shanties along the roads and markets to ensure a clean and healthy environment in the state but complained against the return of armed bandits on the streets and charged the government to protect lives and properties of the citizenry.