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Enugu Traders’ Election: Crisis Looms as Ugwuanyi Plots to Impose Candidate

From Ignatius Okpara

ENUGU, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A major crisis is looming in Ogbete main market Enugu, South-East Nigeria,  over alleged plan by the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led  government to  interfere in the trader’s  electoral process.

The Governor is accused of plotting imposition of an unpopular candidate as well as his kinsman to emerge as the President of the traders association in the market.

AFRICAN EXAMINER gathered that as part of strategy to actualize the plot, some officials of the State government from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, have perfected plans to manipulate the constitution of the traders so as to pave the way for the emergence of his candidate, who is from the same Udenu local government area of the state with Governor Ugwuanyi.

Earlier, the  State government had dissolved the Temple Ude led administration and put in place a  caretaker committee Chairman, even when the administration still have nine months to elapse to pave way for an Nsukka and government preferred  candidate  to mount the saddle.

Sources at the market who craved anonymity for fear of the unknown, alleged that “the state government is using all government appointees including Enugu North council officials where the market is situated, to install the Nsukka candidate.

They alleged that in a recent meeting with over 500 traders in attendance, on June 6, 2018 at the Enugu North council area headquarters, the local Government Chairman Chief Emma Onoh, had emphatically told the traders that the Governor is interested in the election of new President of Ogbete trader’s association.

Onoh, was quoted as saying that there was a directive from the Governor that the representative election system should be replaced with general election, contrary to the constitution of the association.

The Council boss was said to have told the traders during the meeting that anything the Governor wants them to do, they will do it, adding that the local government area would embark on registration and issuance of identity cards at the cost of N300 per trader for them to be eligible for the election. Onoh told newsmen.

He said that the contentious portion of the constitution which stipulates that only chairmen and secretaries of commodity groups are eligible to vote, would be amended in a week.

The Sources insisted that the aim of  the government interference with the association’s constitution “is to use a new method alien to the constitution to impose an Nsukka man from Udenu, the governor’s place, as president of Ogbete main market”.

They recalled that an election was held at the popular Ogige market Nsukka, the Governor’s zone, and an Nkanu man who had been vice president in the past was screen out to pave way for an Nsukka man to emerge as president.  “

“When  a similar election took place at Ogige market, Nsukka, the constitution was sacrosanct, but here the  constitution must be jettisoned or amended abruptly to enable them rig the election in favour of Nsukka man with the wrong impression that past governors produced their town’s men as president of Ogbete main market association”.

Most of the traders who spoke to newsmen on the issue said it is obvious that the state government is highly interested in the affairs of the traders, a development that has brought a sharp division among the traders with each vowing to see to the end of the crisis.

They revealed that the constitution stipulates that any amendment of any portion of the constitution should be done six months before an election would take place.

However, chairman of Enugu North local government area, chief  Emma Onoh dismissed insinuations that government  was interested in who becomes the president of the market, saying . “We called the entire members of Ogbete main market association including chairman and secretaries of the commodities and all endorsed the general as against the representatives’ election.

He said: “There is nothing like imposition of candidates for the election. The contest is open to all interested traders. The Governor is only interested in maintaining  peace and order in the state.

“We have not fixed the election date yet. We have to embark on registration and identification of members”, he stated.

 

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