By Nwafor Okafor
Anambra State traders under the aegis of Onitsha Drug Market Dealers have threatened the inauguration of the governor-elect of the state,Prof Chukwuma Soludo scheduled for March 17.
The traders who protested on Tuesday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, gave the outgoing governor, Willie Obiano 14-day ultimatum to conduct elections into the leadership of the market before Soludo’s inauguration.
For the them, the state would not be enjoying a new governor who was democratically elected while the leadership of the market would be under a caretaker arrangement, adding that the would not accept a situation where Soludo as a democratically elected governor would work with a caretaker market leadership.
Addressing journalists, the spokesperson for the traders, Leo Ezievuo, asked Obiano to listen to their demand , noting that the drug market was peaceful for the conduct of elections.
He enjoined Soludo to implore Obiano to do the needful by putting in place a new leadership at the Drug section of Onitsha market, (known as Ogbogwu market), to compliment his agenda for Ndi-Anambra.
He appealed for the intervention of the State Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Market and Wealth Creation, Uchenna Okafor to enable them elect their preferred leaders.
Ezievuo, said election was needed as traders had prepared and ready to elect their leaders, stating that those who were protesting against the election had no stake in the market and were sponsored by those who felt that the election might not favour them if conducted.
The market leader, who frowned at the none conduct of the election on the stipulated date, noted that some people engaged in fabricating stories to thwart the election.
He said, “Those people are miscreants who never allowed peace to reign in the market. They cooked allegations that the market is in violence and traders are in loggerhead with each other. All these allegations are false alarm and unfounded.
”We assured that our market is peaceful, and it is verifiable.We are tired of care-taker leadership. Traders want to elect their leaders by themselves. People who are protesting against the election are unknown to the market union and entire traders. They are hired thugs.”
“We campaigned for the in-coming Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Charles Soludo when he visited Bridge- Head Market during the electioneering which he emerged winner with our votes in support.
“Now, the coast is clear, the same people who absconded from the market during Soludo’s visit/campaign tour wanted to reap from where they did not sow by blackmailing everybody in order to tag themselves the best and stop the conduct of the long awaited leadership election in Onitsha drug market.
It was gathered that no fewer than 2100 traders stormed the state Secretariat in Awka for the protest.
Addressing the protesters, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Wealth Creation, Samuel Chinedu, who spoke on behalf of his Commissioner, Uche Okafor, promised to conduct the election in no distant time.
He assure them that their demands would be made known to the governor as soon as possible.