Ifeanyi Okechi, Enugu
Traders in Ogbete Main Market, Enugu, Enugu State, are disillusioned by the activities of the caretaker leadership that has superintended their affairs for more than two years now. They have vowed not to condone it any longer.
Last week Tuesday, some of the traders marched to the Okpara Avenue, headquarters of Enugu North Local Government, located next door, to express their dissatisfaction with the situation, which according to them was an aberration, because by their constitution, a caretaker leadership should not last more than six months.
As they wielded placards with various inscriptions all conveying the central message that enough was enough, they demanded for a date that the government would conduct a free and fair election for them. They also demanded the immediate dissolution of the caretaker committee led by John Eze, said to be a former council boss of Enugu North LG.
Some of the placards read: “Ogbete traders don’t want caretaker anymore; “We want elected officials,” “John Eze is not a trader, remove him now,” “Give Ogbete date of election,” “We are not going without date of election,” and “Our election should not pass two weeks from today.”
Leader of the Concerned Ogbete Market Traders, Chief Osita Ike, who spoke on their behalf, told the council chairman, Emma Onoh, that the overstay of the caretaker committee in Ogbete for a period of two years and one month instead of six months, was long overdue and therefore unacceptable.
He stated that it was an abnormality for a non-trader to oversee the administration of traders inside the market and called for immediate conduct of election. Addressing the chairman, at a meeting with a representative of the traders; the caretaker chairman, and security agencies including the Area Commander and Divisional Police Officer, he declared: “Enugu State is one of the most peaceful states and does not need crisis.
“Therefore, we are demanding for immediate dissolution of the caretaker government, immediate conduct of election in this month of September 2019.” He alleged that the electoral committee set up to conduct the election was denied access into the market by the John Eze-led caretaker committee, which according to him, has vowed to remain in office for four years.
Onoh appealed to them to go back to their shops assuring that he would dialogue with relevant stakeholders for the conduct of the election in the market without further delay. He said setting up an electoral committee was a strong indication that he was ready to conduct the election:
“Our governor is a very peaceful man, so, he wouldn’t want anything that would truncate peaceful atmosphere. I have set up an electoral committee and they are working. They will soon give us a date and I will do everything to ensure that the election is held in free, fair and transparent manner to enthrone an acceptable leadership in Ogbete. That is why I insisted that the election be held at Okpara Square and there is no going back.”
He, however, charged the traders not to be violent in their agitation but to maintain peace in the market until the election is conducted. Police detachment from Enugu Area Command and Central Police Station, Enugu, as well as operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), were present throughout the protest to ensure a peaceful process.
Leader of the police team assured the traders that their complaints would be directed to the appropriate quarters and urged them to ensure that there was no breach of peace in the market.