THE prompt intervention of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, weekend, saved what could have led to loss of lives and property following a bloody leadership crisis rocking the New Auto Spare Parts Market, Nkpor in Idemili North Local Government Area of the state.
The week- old crisis was sparked off when the state government, in conjunction with the executive of Anambra Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, AMATAS, an umbrella association of the traders in the state, announced their decision to set up a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the market, following the expiration of the Emmanuel Uko-led executive of the market, but the traders revolted vehemently on the grounds that they preferred a democratically elected leadership to a caretaker arrangement, insisting that an election must be conducted.
The fracas, which began at the New Auto Spare Parts Market, later spread to other markets in the vicinity until Obiano waded into the matter by convening an emergency meeting of the stakeholders in the markets which brought the situation under control at least for now.
At the commencement of the crisis which paralyzed commercial activities in Onitsha, the commercial hub of the state, the traders protested against what they described as an alleged imposition of a caretaker committee leadership on them by the state government and AMATAS.
Armed with their placards, with inscriptions such as, ‘We do not need caretaker committee in the New Auto Spare Parts Market, AMATAS,’ ‘Leave our market to have peaceful election,’ ‘Only traders who own shops in this market are qualified to contest election,’ ‘Governor Obiano, caution your Commissioner for Trade and Commerce,’ and ‘Anambra Commissioner for Trade and Commerce wants to cause crisis in our peaceful market.’ The traders maintained that the market had no crisis to warrant the planned installation of a caretaker committee by the state government and AMATAS to run the affairs of the market.
As they were insisting that they preferred elections to pick their leaders and not an imposition of a caretaker committee, the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the market had to quickly seal the union’s secretariat to avoid an untoward action. The union’s secretariat remained sealed until Governor Obiano convened the close-door meeting held at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, presided over by Obiano himself.
In attendance at the meeting were the state Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Commerce, Ifeatu Onejeme and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Chief Chikodi Anaran from the side of the government, while the Chairman of the BoT, Chief Mike Emerah represented the traders.
At the end of the meeting, both parties resolved that following the expiration of the tenure of Mr. Emmanuel Uko-led executive, a care-taker committee be put in place to run the affairs of the market for only one month, during which an election of new executive would be conducted to usher in a new democratically elected executive of the market.
Speaking shortly after the meeting, Emerah, commended Governor Obiano for the peace initiative and attributed the crisis in the market to the attitude of some market executives who always refused to vacate their seats at the expiration of their tenure.
He, therefore, urged future leaders in the market to imbibe democratic culture by leaving the stage when the ovation was loudest, meaning that they should conduct an election as soon as their tenure expires and handover leadership to their successors, for peaceful co-existence.