A group, Ikenga Ndigbo Worldwide (INW) has called on aspirants for the presidency race into the International Centre Commerce (ICC) also known as Balogun Business Association (BBA) a body domicile in Trade Fare, Market, Lagos to conduct themselves in a manner that will bring pride to Igbo nation and eschew conducts capable of undermining the integrity of the forthcoming election into the executive body.
The group also described the market as the pride of West Africa, noting that marketers need, free, fair and credible election into its leadership body.
The National Coordinator of INW, Chidubem Ofor, gave the warning a statement issued in Lagos, stating that the forthcoming election promises to make or mar the future of the BBA and intelligence report points to the fact that some people were planning to subvert the wishes of traders (electorates), warning that such tendency could throw the organisation into unending crisis.
He warned those he described as protege of national political parties not to thwart the efforts of the founding fathers of BBA that stands as a platform to market Nigeria to the world over what he described as petty politics of division and coercion, noting that the primary purpose of the group was to give traders a voice and a strong umbrella to eke out a living but not a political party platform where people pitch one national party against the other.
Ofor pointedly stated that some persons were in BBA to play the script of the opposition party and separatist groups from Igbo land. He lamented what he described as ugly situation when mundane issues are brought into a contest which may not augur well with marketers whose daily bread depends on the peace and tranquility in the market.
The coordinator observed that if the current trend continues, the group is prepared to place security agencies in the country on alert and that it wont hesitate to mention those who are stoking crisis in the market to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babangana Monguno.
The Ofor-led group regretted that since inception of BBA in 1992, only Anambra people have been leading the group, adding that the leadership of the organisation should be taken out of the woods of clannishness and petty nepotism. He said BBA will better if people from other states are allowed to take a shot at the presidency position, stressing that the position should not be exclusive preserve of Anambra people.
Ofor decried the refusal of perceived sympathisers of the ruling party from campaigning for elective positions of the ICC/BBA as against campaigns by aspirants of the opposition within the market space.
He recalled that BBA/ICC moved into Trade Fair Market in 1992 as the umbrella body of traders with the aim of managing the affairs of members and to open the vista of trade opportunities for members and interface with governments at all levels of governance for the betterment of traders.
Notably, Ofor chronicled the past leadership of BBA who are all from Anambra state which include Leonard, who was the pioneer President in 1990, handed over the leadership to Okey Ezeibe, from Ogbu, the same state and was appointed by his predecessor 1992 to 2003.
Others who have led the BBA and are of Anambra extraction are Chief Okey Ezeibe, Prince Tony Akaneghu, 2005 – 2008; Anslem Dunu, 2008 to 2011; Leonard Ogbonnaya from Igboukwu led from 2011 to 2014; Chief Alex Obi-Odunukwe, from Oraukwu from 2014 to 2017 and Tony Obin from Awka Ekititi in the same state 2017 till date.
His words: ”This kind of leadership from same lineage is no longer acceptable. Other eastern states are not conquered territories of Anambra State therefore, we advocate paradigm shift by ensuring a level playing field for us all lest we playing field for contestants.
The group stated specifically that the imposition of an Anambra indigene in the forthcoming election would not be acceptable to anyone and warned the outgoing leadership to allow for peace by ensuring that aspirants are accorded same privileges to avoid rancour.
According to Offor, “whatever we say stands and we shall walk our talks, to take our call for granted is to put our might to test. We have all it takes to stop that oncoming election if it becomes that Anambra forces want to perpetuate leadership. The ICC/BBA is organisation for all its Nigerian members and no tribe, group, creed…is more of a member than the others.
“Our group wont rest until people from other states are accorded their dues in the politics of the association and nobody can do otherwise. For peace to reign in the association, the outgoing leadership must pave the way for transparent, free, fair and credible process or else, there would be trouble and we know those agents of acrimony.” Offor stated.