Suleiman Anyalewechi, Aba
The former Chairman of Ariaria International Market, Aba, Abia state, Chief Chijioke Amaku said that with institutionalization of the right framework, the Ariaria International Market has the potential to contribute about N20 billion to the annual revenue profile of Abia state.
The non-inclusive leadership tendencies of successive administrations in the operations of most markets have been a huge cog in the wheels of progress and development of the markets. This was made known by the erstwhile chairman of Ariaria International Market Aba, Chief Chijioke Michael Amaku in an extensive chat with NewsCritic online in Aba on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
According to him, given the existence of a focused, committed and people-oriented leadership structure, the about 100,000 shops capacity Ariaria Market can contribute meaningfully to the gross revenue of the State.
Sadly however, he noted that the persistent interference in the leadership of the markets by political actors has tended to skew issues to the advantage of the various benefactors of the markets leadership, instead of the State authorities, adding that until there is a rethink, the loyalty of the various markets leadership will continue to go primarily to political actors at the detriment of the larger interest of Abia State Government, businessmen and residents at large
Chief Amaku, who was the immediate past Chairman of Ariaria also lamented the unhealthy situation where certain qualified and competent individuals are perceived as anti-establishment. He said, politicizing the market leadership by some reactionary forces, which consequently denies more competent people the opportunities to contribute to the general development of the markets in particular, and the State in general is affecting the growth of the market.
“The tendencies to see some traders as LP, PDP, APGA, YPP, and APC supporters, to say the least is counter-productive”.
“There is no basis to immerse activities at the markets in politics. The traders are not partisan politicians. Theirs is to partner with the government of the day in moving both the markets and the State forward”, Chief Amaku added.
The ugly reality since the advent of the current democratic experiment in 1999 has been the consideration of the market leadership as part and parcel of the government of the day and this development has led to these markets which are supposed to be a very vital revenue generating organs for the State to be entrusted into the hands of those who are mostly not traders and are not genuinely committed to the growth, development and interest of markets stakeholders.
“It is an understatement to say that this development has in no small measure impacted negatively on the markets, the traders, and other users of the markets, as well as the revenue profile of the state,” Amaku stated.
According to Amaku, one of the veritable ways to halt the ugly trend is to give the traders the chance to elect their leaders, noting that the appointments of the leaderships of the various markets have tended to create a huge gulf between the traders and the leaderships on one hand, and between the traders and customers on the other.
“The situation on the ground now is that there is a disconnect between the traders and the leadership. The leadership is not all that bothered about the traders because they owe their offices to those who influenced their appointments. The traders on their part do not see these leaders as representing them. This has resulted in some unintended consequences, such as poor relationships between traders and customers, especially first-time visitors, who more often than not leave the markets with a very bad impression.”
Do not forget, most of them do come to the market based on the information about the market. Unfortunately, most of them especially people from neighbouring States also leave with negative thoughts and experiences which when shared with their peers, leave the market and the people of the State with a bad public image. This is pinned down to lack of commitments and break-down in communication both on the part of the traders and the leadership of the market,” the former chairman noted.
Chief Amaku therefore called on the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti to in line with his promises during electioneering campaigns, put machinery in motion to assist the traders in electing credible leaders of their choice.
He also called on the Governor not to hesitate to enlist the services of all qualified and competent people in the task of moving the State forward irrespective of political party affiliations.
“This idea of seeing people from the prism of a political party will not serve the State well. I don’t see the reason why Abia should be denied the services of its best hands because of partisan politics. No system can develop to its full potential with such a mindset. Great nations from historical accounts were made possible by the best brains based on competence and capacity, “Chief Amaku noted.