Onitsha – Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano and his Commissioner for Commerce, Market and Wealth Creation, Chief Uchenna Okafor, have been urged to immediately dissolve the Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) Caretaker Committee and restore democracy in Anambra markets.
The Anambra State Traders’ Forum (ATF), which made the call in Onitsha on Thursday, lamented the increasing undemocratic culture in the State under Obiano’s administration.
The State Government had in 2019, stopped the election being organised by Amalgamated Market Traders of Anambra State (AMATAS) to replace Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, the AMATAS former President-General, who is now representing Orumba North and South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives..
In his place, the State Government had set up a Caretaker Committee with a tenure of six months.
Speaking with TNC correspondent in Onitsha, the President of the ATF, Dede Uzor A. Uzor, said apart from installing Caretaker Committees in virtually all the markets in the State including the State markets central body, Amalgamated Market Traders of Anambra State (AMATAS), the Governor has refused to conduct Local Market election in the various markets due for election in the State in spite of the citizens’ frequent calls.
Uzor observed that the ASMATA Caretaker Committee’s 6 months tenure had since expired nearly 2 years ago and the Governor and the Commissioner are not ready to allow democratic process to take place in the markets..
“The continued stay in office by Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu of the ASMATA and his members, amount to gross illegality. Governor Obiano who is a product of a democratic process should be seen to be contributing the same democracy he is benefitting from.
“This has become more worrisome owing to the fact that the trend has now become a norm in our local markets. Over 70 percent of markets across the state has caretaker committees. These committee members are appointees of government so this is a government of ‘who knows who’ and not that of the masses,” he lamented.
Dede Uzor insisted that the State Government should urgently set machinery in motion to organise election into the duly registered market central body, AMATAS.
“If AMATAS is constituted, it will accordingly, organize elections in other markets to bring order, peace and democracy in those markets. The chairman and members of the Caretaker Committee, in all ramifications, lack legitimacy to still parade themselves when even their illegal tenure has expired.
“They should therefore resign and hand over to AMATAS which has the power to organize elections as a duly registered body with Corporate Affairs Commissions (CAC), in line with their extant regulations,” the group said.