Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Traders and aspirants have kicked against modalities for the proposed election of market executives for the Onitsha Bridge-Head Drug Market, otherwise known as “Ogbogwu International market”, urging the government to ensure that a credible election is held.
Election of market executives has been slated to hold on April 16th but the present lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic is already a threat to the proposed date, with some traders raising concerns over guidelines being implemented by the electoral committee of the market which they say have been skewed to scare some candidates away and make way for an anointed candidate.
Chairmanship candidate from the Legacy Group, Ndubisi Chukwuleta, said the introduction of N250,000 as contestant form fee for the post of Chairman is not only outrageous but has never happened in the more than 63 other major markets in the state.
He said the interests of the traders in the market is to elect their leaders who will ensure their welfare and maintain government and other regulatory agencies’ stipulated guidelines in the market in a transparent manner devoid of intimidation and harassment.
Another chairmanship candidate, Ugochukwu Nwosu, while noting that the application form is on the high side though he has picked the form, appealed that a new date be fixed for the election after the lockdown over the COVID-19 crisis so that nobody will be disenfranchised during the election. He said the government should heed the yearnings of the traders for a congress election where each and every member of the union will be allowed to vote for their preferred candidates.
Dioguba Uchenna, a candidate for the post of secretary from Legacy Group, noted that the traders want the election to be conducted using the option A4 method after proper accreditation with line members registers instead of delegate option, which the electoral body is proposing to use in conducting the election.
Commissioner of Commerce and Wealth Creation Chief Uchenna Okafor and President General, Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, in their separate comments, promised to look into the complaints raised by the traders.
When contacted, Secretary of the electoral committee Norbert Okoli declined to comment, saying only that the committee headed by its Chairman, Chike Okeke, is in the best position to react to the concerns raised.