From Aloysius Attah. Onitsha



There is palpable tension that might lead to crisis at the Electronic Dealers Association Onitsha (EDAO) market, Anambra State, following the traders’ rejection of the 11-man caretaker committee inaugurated by the Anambra State government to run the affairs of the market after the expiration of the tenure of the former executives.

Traders in the market had already kick-started the process for the election of their new leaders fixed tentatively for 23rd July 2022, when suddenly, the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, through the Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), announced to the traders that a caretaker committee would be constituted citing an Executive Order by Governor Soludo suspending all elections in the market till further notice.

Chairman of Board of Trustees of EDAO, Chief Ben Anyanwu, who spoke to reporters yesterday said the traders were in angry mood, hence they tactically boycotted the prayer session held last Wednesday, where the new caretaker committee members were presented to the traders even as he picked holes in the manner the committee members were chosen, noting that the step elicited the disapproval of the traders.

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“Tenure of the last executives expired on 13th July, 2022. They inaugurated caretaker committee on 29th of July in Awka without the knowledge or consultation of members of the market. The caretaker committee was unveiled on 2nd of August 2022 without the traders’ information,” he said.

Chukwubike Cletus Kamah, a former vice president of the market union, expressed disappointment that all those aspiring for various elective positions in the market had paid the required nomination fees and completed all documentations needed for the election before the exercise was truncated midway.

He disclosed that there was a court injunction obtained on 7th July 2022 that ordered all parties in the matter to maintain the status quo.

He also picked holes in the membership of the caretaker committee, saying that 10 names on the list were Anambra indigenes while the 11th person hailed from Imo State. He wondered why Anambra indigenes should constitute 91 per cent of the membership of the caretaker committee, which is to oversee affairs in a market where non-Anambra indigenes are in the majority and contributed their personal resources to build it. The aggrieved traders, therefore, tagged the government’s move as clear demonstration of marginalisation.

Consequently, the inauguration of the committee has thrown the market into confusion because members claimed it runs contrary to the provisions of their constitution even as they appealed to Governor Chukwuma Soludo to address the situation to avert crisis in the market.