By Brown Chimezie
Moved by leadership crisis in most markets in Lagos State, President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos, Chief Solomon Ogbonna, recently mentioned how the apex Igbo socio cultural group has been making efforts to promote peace in the market among the traders.
We liaise with the leadership of the various markets to ensure harmonious relationship between Igbo traders and people of other ethnic nationalities doing business at the markets. Quite, Igbo constitute majority in most of the markets in Lagos, but there are people of other tribes in all the markets. Furthermore, there are two management structures in each market, the leadership of the traders union and the Baba Oja/Iya Oloja group. So, we equally reach out to Baba Oja/Iya Oloja in each market to ensure cordial relationship between the two structures of market management. Because Igbo dominates most of the markets, the traders’ union executives are mostly Igbo; but the Baba Oja/Iya Oloja are usually indigenes of the host community, Yoruba. So, we interact with both structures to ensure the market places are conducive for business.
The incident at Ladipo Auto market is an isolated case involving military officers, the air force and the traders as a result of misunderstanding over a business transaction. It was unfortunate that lives were lost for an issue that could have been settled amicably. Fortunately, the Lagos State administration under Sanwo-Olu intervened and stopped the situation from escalating. I equally laud the effort of the Ladipo Auto market leadership in allowing wisdom to prevail and stop the crisis. We have been talking to some members of the Ladipo Auto market leadership to avoid repeat of such ugly incide
You already stated the problem: leadership crisis at the market. Some traders are aggrieved that the caretaker committee has overstayed its welcome and ought to hand over to elected leadership. I made several efforts to resolve the ASPAMDA leadership tussle, calling for election of new leadership. In fact, one of such meetings was attended by the immediate past President of ASPAMDA plus some members of Alaba International Market executive. At the meeting we reached some understanding and I thought the people would reconstitute the executive of ASPAMDA. But they jettisoned the decisions reached, probably because they felt I and my colleagues are not rich enough to mediate in their crisis. You know, sometimes my people feel they can only listen to the mega rich people, forgetting that even the very poor ones can give you valuable advice and information. Good enough, our able governor, Sanwo-Olu is stepping into the matter. Quite in character with his good leadership qualities, Gov. Sanwo-Olu has stepped in and instructed the caretaker committee to organise election within 60 to 90 days. This is a welcome relief to Ndigbo and I am confident the government intervention will resolve the leadership crisis in ASPAMDA.
Does it mean that Igbo must wait for the government intervention to settle matters at the market?
Not necessarily. But when things tend to get out-of-hand, the chief security officer of the state, Gov. Sanwo-Olu steps in. You should notice there has been relative peace across markets in Lagos State since the reign of Gov. Sanwo-Olu. The issue of crisis between area boys and traders is now a thing of the past. Except the few cases you mentioned earlier, all the markets are peaceful and conducive for business. These attest to the workable formula of Sanwo-Olu leadership. I commend him and his lieutenants as they work to make all corners of Lagos secure.
Yes, we are aware of the exploitation and harassment of traders at Mandilas by the landlords. The normal practice is yearly payment of rent by tenants anywhere in Lagos. But the ugly incidents at Mandilas are that traders are forced to pay as much as five years rent in advance. Even traders whose yearly payment is still running are coerced by their landlords to pay more; notwithstanding the fact that the paid rent has not elapsed. Sometimes, these plaza landlords secure frivolous court orders to force the traders to pay the money. This is extortion and man’s inhumanity to man. We’ve made attempts to discuss with some of these landlords, but they avoid any meeting with us. I therefore plead with the government officials in charge of that area to intervene and stop the exploitation of the traders by the management of the Mandilas Plaza.
Majority of Ndigbo in Lagos can attest to his good works and inclusive administration, as he has giving us sense of belonging. No leader, no matter how good the leader is, wins 100% support of the people. Some people will always disagree with the leaders and their style, picking faults at all times. Remember, Gov. Sanwo-Olu is of the APC, and there are Igbo members of the PDP; and these PDP supporters will always condemn the administration. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is non-partisan, but members have sympathy for political parties. So, some staunch supporters of the PDP will always dismiss the good works of the Sanwo-Olu administration. By and large, majority of Ndigbo in Lagos appreciate the good works of the administration
I advise Ndigbo to avoid issues that create friction at the markets and apply wisdom in dealing with their customers. I also request the support of all Igbo in Lagos for the administration of Gov. Sanwo-Olu as he works hard to deliver dividends of democracy to all Lagosians including Ndigbo. Majority of Igbo will attest that Gov. Sanwo-Olu administration has been the most favourable to Ndigbo. On that vein, Igbo should show solidarity with the administration and support all government effort to make our market places peaceful.