By Uzo Ugwunze :
The Anambra State Market Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) has urged traders who transact business in various Shopping Plazas in the State to defy the purported fear of the unknown gunmen or hoodlums and resume their normal businesses on Mondays.
Speaking during a meeting with Shopping plaza Chairmen and Secretaries at Onitsha on February 19, the President General (PG), ASMATA, Chief Humphrey Anuna reminded the plaza executives on the huge losses being incurred by both individuals and government because of no full business activities every Monday in Anambra and entire South East.
He said that Gov. Chukwuma Soludo who has the interest of Ndi Anambra has been using the tax payers money judiciously having almost completed about 400km roads among other interventions and projects.
“Soludo is working. Last time when Soludo empowered youths, many traders in the market benefited but people from the plaza could not submit any names because you were secluding yourselves.
“Let us unite together, sit up and support Soludo’s government because he is a good and very intelligent man that has the interest of the masses.
“His Excellency hosted a meeting for market leaders and joint task force comprising the Military, Police and AVS and they promised to be patrolling every Monday near the markets and plazas in case of any eventuality.
“So, you leaders should organize yourselves under one umbrella and select a 7 -man committee that will be part of ASMATA leadership meetings so that traders doing business in plazas all over the state can enjoy other privileges which include defending yourselves against multiple taxation from illegal revenue contractors.
“Plazas are Incorporated in ASMATA constitution and nobody will take you serious if you put up any official document without ASMATA letter headed paper.
“Also, remember never to remit any revenue to even I or anyone in cash because all payments are done through the bank with the ANSSID number generated for your own plaza,” Anuna said.
Moreover, Chief Anuna with the support of plazas executives appointed the duo of Engr. Samuel Nwankwo, Manager of Emeka Offor plaza and Mr Chris Nwadilibe of the Young Shall Grow plaza to organize a meeting for all the plazas from major cities in Anambra as soon as possible for further information.
Earlier during the interactive session, Mr Chinedu Udemba of Atlantic plaza Nkpor, Simon Onwe of Ike Dunukofia plaza, Afam Nwagu of Collymart plaza after expressing the fear of endangering the lives of the traders said that plaza owners were also afraid of their plaza being burnt down by hoodlums.
They thanked the ASMATA PG for extending the opportunity for plaza traders to participate in ASMATA affairs and to defend the plazas from intimidation and exploitation, saying that this was the first of its kind.
According to Engr. Nwankwo of Emeka Offor plaza, 50 percent of plaza traders are ready to open for businesses on Mondays but they need to be convinced that government will provide adequate security both at the markets, plazas and roads leading from residential buildings to the plazas.
Nwankwo further requested for the ASMATA constitution and guidelines to enable the plaza traders to participate fully in the ASMATA affairs, urging the PG to ensure that plaza traders have enabling environment for business without interference from touts with many so called authorization form both LG Secretariat and State Government.
Moreso, Ochiagha Chukwunonso of Bethel plaza Niger Street, Onitsha eulogized Soludo for channeling the tax payers money into visible projects like the newly constructed road network within Fegge Onitsha.
He further suggested that South Eastern Governors should go to Aso Rock, Abuja and demand for the unconditional release of the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu instead of increasing the number of security agents in the state which may scare citizens from going about their normal businesses.
*Uzo is of the Ministry of Information, Anambra State