Non-indigene traders in Anambra state have lamented their disqualification from occupying the chairmanship position in all public markets in the state.
The traders under the aegis of Non-Indigenous Free Minds Welfare Association said they have contributed immensely to the building of most of the markets in Anambra state, but were banned from holding chairmanship position in any of the markets.
Addressing journalists in Onitsha, Anambra state Business hub, Chairman of the Association, Chief Ezebusi Ezebuwa stated that the barring of non-Indigenes from contesting Chairmanship position in Anambra Market was the height of injustice.
According to Ezebuwa, who spoke through Mr Sunday Onwugharu, it is sad that Igbo man could bar a fellow Igbo man from holding a position in a market in Igbo land.
He said the barring of non-Anambra man from holding chairmanship position in the market is not a new development, noting that it had been existing for years.
According to Ezebuwa, non-indigenes have been deprived of the opportunity to be chairman of any of the markets in the State for over 10 years.
He said this ugly situation had prompted their association to raise alarm so that government can be aware and intervene.
“It is not good for only one side to be controlling markets which were jointly built by all of us. Many of us have shops, we are traders in the markets, we also own properties in the markets. We cannot deny the facts that the indigenes are the owners of their State, but if one side continues to produce Chairman in the Markets, others would definitely feel cheated. You cannot give what you do not have,” he stated.
He appealed to Governor Willie Obiano and the incoming Governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Soludo to as a matter of urgency intervene and change the narratives.
“Lets us live in peace and be united so that where ever one stays, let him protect the area. Igbo are crying of marginalization by other Nigerians and we are here also marginalizing ourselves in the name of indigenes and non-indigenes sentiment. It is absolutely unacceptable. After all, Anambra State indigenes are allowed to be Chairmen of Markets in the various states where they reside and lives in peace with the Indigenes,” he said.
Commenting on the matter , the president general of 5 Alive non-indigenes traders at Mgbuka Amazu, Okpoko in Ogbaru LGA, Anambra State, Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Anthony Igwe said that he was surprised that non-indigenes were banned from the election, despite the fact that the constitution of the market does not stipulate that non-indigene cannot participate in the contest.
He said that prior to the election in the Market, all the contestants who were contesting for Chairmanship were mandated to buy form which he said Mr. Ikechukwu Onuigbo and Mr. Emeka Egwuonwu who are non-indigenes, bought at N20,000 each alongside Mr. Jeremiah Ndubuisi Okafor and Mr. Cyprain Ezechukwu who are Anambra indigenes.
“We invited Anambra State Market Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) to come and observe our election. But at the eve of the election, the two non-indigenes were ordered not to contest because they are not from Anambra State. We told them that such order is not in our constitution,” he said
According to Igwe, the exclusion of the two non-indigene contestants triggered serious argument which resulted into the cancellation of the election and subsequently the appointment of caretaker committee.
He said that the president general of (ASMATA), Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu told them that non indigene cannot be chairman of any market in the state.
According to him, some indigenes of the state are even threatening them to leave Anambra if they cannot abide by their order.
Reacting, the President General of ASMATA, Chief Ekwegbalu said that it has been an existing order in the state over the years that non Anambra person cannot be chairman of any market in the state.
According to him, this started during the administration of Mr. Peter Obi and till date has not been changed.
“If the non-indigenes are interested in who becomes chairman of their markets , they should just support any Anambra person but it is not possible for no- indigene to be chairman in any market in the state,” he said.
Also speaking on the matter, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment Mr. C.Don Adinuba said that the state government cannot indulge in any policy that is discriminatory.
According to him, the state is not interested in who becomes the chairman of any market but interested in getting the best that will sustain peace in those markets.