Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

Candidates under Legacy Group, vying for various elective posts in the forthcoming election of executives at the Onitsha Bridge Head medicine market, Ogbogwu have called on the Anambra State government to ensure the conduct of credible election into the market leadership.

In an appeal letter sent to Governor Willie Obiano signed by Ignatius Akuma , Chairman, and Ikechukwu Nwoye, Secretary, the group raised alarm over plans by some elements in the market to  subvert the collective will of traders in the market by conducting a kangaroo election in this period of measured restriction in the state, and country following the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The group recalled that the present caretaker committee in charge of the market were initialed billed to stay for three months before a democratic election is conducted, unfortunately, they noted that the committee has been in office for 19 months and are presently using some clandestine methods to perpetuate themselves in office by planning to organize a kangaroo election.

The group also accused the caretaker committee of abusing the privilege of exempting the medicine market from being shut because of the coronavirus lockdown to now plan how to manipulate the election process.

“They are insisting that the election must go on the 16th of April, 2020 (next week Wednesday). They have also been bragging that they have bought over the Ministry of Commerce and that the ministry must accede to their inordinate whims and caprices. They even claim that the government has an anointed candidate that must be returned elected willy nilly.

“They are proposing a so called “delegate election” as against the established method that the market has used in all her previous elections since the return to democracy in the country in 1999, which is using all the line registered members as the electorate in an open ballot system ( preferable option A4). For example, this model worked perfectly in 2009 and 2014 elections.

“There is no way a transparent election can be conducted without having more than Five Hundred (500) people gather in one place if you factor in the number of the proposed “delegates”, the Caretaker/Electoral Committee, the AMATAS observers, the bridgehead market observers, the representatives/observers from Ministry of Commerce, Security agencies, the media, et al.

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“Ogbogwu market has 86 lines and if you calculate the number of the chairmen and Secretaries of the lines alone being as delegates in the election you already have 172 persons.  There are also about fifty contestants that have indicated interest by purchase of forms to participate in the election. These two categories of persons alone are more than 230 in number. There is no tenable reason why anybody would insist that this election must go on under COVID 19 situation if not to use it as a means of manipulating the process and subverting the will of the people.

“Also,  it is unfortunate that almost all the members of Caretaker Committee are also contestants in the election. As at today, Fourteen (14) out of Eighteen (18) members of the Caretaker Committee have already purchased forms to contest for various positions in the election.

“The least that is expected from them is that they should resign their positions to avoid any form of conflict of interest and/or interference with and manipulation of the process. We have already had enough of their overbearing manipulative activities.

In the light of the foregoing, they called on Governor Obiano to direct the immediate postponement of the election till the COVID-19 situation relaxes and there is a return to normal economic and social activities in the state.

“A transparent and credible election cannot be held under this present situation. The new date should be communicated to all stakeholders early enough whenever it is decided to enable them prepare.

“Direct that all the members of the Caretaker Committee who have purchased forms to contest in the election should immediately resign their position in the Committee. They cannot be an umpire in their own case.

“To direct that the guidelines for the election be made available to us, and indeed to all stakeholders in the market to enable us prepare for the election in accordance with the guidelines. To direct that the idea of a “delegate election” being proposed be jettisoned immediately. The election should follow the option A4 method using line registered members as voters, which is panacea for post-election rancor in the market and has been used not only in our market but also in other markets’ elections in the state” they appealed.