Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The general elections expected to be concluded this weekend have taken toll on commercial activities in Onitsha, the business hub of Anambra state.
Traders in Onitsha Main Market and other markets in the commercial city have cried out over the low patronage they have witnessed since the commencement of the 2019 polls.
They lamented that sales have been at the lowest ebb since February 16 when the postponed election was earlier fixed, noting that some of them just while away time at their shops these days. Daily Sun gathered that following the current glut, many of them indulge in playing games like ludo, draught, whot and ‘ayo’.
Chairman of God’s Own Line in Onitsha main market, Chief Chike Umeadi said that most of the traders now feed from their savings rather than daily sales because customers who usually come from far and near stopped coming to the market due to the elections. The markets are open for business every day apart from the Election Day “but only few buyers within the southeast come to buy.”
He disclosed that some traders have resorted to menial jobs to survive the arid period.
“We have been finding it difficult to cope this period of election because our customers from parts of West Africa don’t come again because of the elections. We are starving; waiting for the elections to come and go. But the postponement of the February 16 election also stretched the period thereby causing more hardship for us.
“Some of us are finding it difficult to pay for our children’s school fees which you know that this is the time for it, apart from feeding the family. Some of us are doing other jobs within this period to sustain their families like those who have vehicles use it now for election duty and evening taxi to survive”.
“It is really affecting us but many people may not know it. I know it is a matter of time; we have the March 9 Governorship and House of Assembly elections to go, after which everything will normalise. Our prayer is that there should be no crisis that will affect the elections,” Umeadi said.
A fruit seller at Oseokwodu market, Mrs. Grace Okoye could not agree less as according to her, she has stopped business this period because people that bring lorry loads of fruits from the middle belt and the far north do not come again due to the elections.
She also lamented that money was not ‘flowing’ as in previous elections, “but this time, everywhere is dry, no money, no business.”
She added: “We are not finding it easy this time. I sell fruits, the middle belt people supply us orange, carrot, cucumber and other fruits which they normally bring to Onitsha in trucks; but since the election started they have stopped coming.
“If you look around, you will see that there is scarcity of fruits in the market and on streets because Hausa people don’t come again because of the election. The election should come and go, so that we continue our business”.
Also, a businessman at Power Tools and Allied Bridgehead market Onitsha, Chief Lawrence Nwokedi blamed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for their ordeal because of the postponement of the elections earlier scheduled for February 16, saying that since then their customers had not been coming to the market.
Nwokedi was however prayerful that there should be business boom for them after the elections of March 9, “for us to recover from this hardship we are facing now”.
Daily Sun learnt that newspaper sales were also affected. A vendor, Mr. Christopher Eze who corroborated what the traders said also disclosed that many businessmen they supplied newspapers in the markets could not buy again because of the hardship but rather, they now go to the newsstands to read and go after paying some token.
“We are affected too because anything that affects the traders also affect us; they buy our papers from which we make our profits and take care of our families. In fact, in Onitsha now, those who buy newspapers are only the lawyers and bankers but they are few compared to the traders in the markets. So, the wind of the election is not blowing anybody good until it is over,” Eze bemoaned.