2019: Abakaliki Traders association supports David Umahi

The Abakaliki Abakpa Main Market Traders Association (AAMMTA) has unanimously accorded mandate and support to Engr. David Umahi in his re-election bid

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The Abakaliki Abakpa Main Market Traders Association (AAMMTA) has unanimously accorded mandate and support to Engr. David Umahi in his re-election bid come 2019. In an interview with The Starnews, the Chairman of AAMMTA, Comr. Eze Christopher Ogbonnaya disclosed that His Excellency is a “Talk and Do” Governor, thereby giving him his support for his re-election and asked the people of Ebonyi State to support the governor come 2019 elections. Excerpts.

  • He is “Talk and Do” Governor – Comr. Eze Christopher

May we know you, sir?

My name is comrade Eze Christopher Ogbonnaya, the Executive Chairman of Abakaliki Abakpa Main Market Traders Association” (AAMMTA), I am from Uburu in Ohoazara L.G.A in Ebonyi State

How long have you been the chairman of (AAMMTA)?

By the special grace of God, this is my 8th month as the Chairman, we conducted election on the 27th November, 2017 and I was sworn in as the chairman on the 1st December 2017. So, from December to July is 8 months.

How long will your tenure last?

My tenure will last for four (4) years, i.e. all through 2017 – 2021. And if I perform to the expectation of the people, I shall be voted in again for another four years.

What is your position as the Chairman all about?

The Chairman, as the word implies, is an administrative Head. I am here to supervise the traders on the day to day running of business activities, maintaining peace and order towards fostering progress amongst all traders here.

What are the measures you use in settling disputes; do you have a disciplinary committee?

As the Executive Chairman, you have to come up with a committee. In that note, we have the “Peace Committee”, “Security Committee” “Association Committee”, “the Task Force Committee” just to name a few. Anyone or any issue that involves a dispute that would warrant the need for the intervention of the peace committee, then that would be managed by that committee and the same applies to every other committee we have.

How has the Governor contributed to the well being of the market?

Our able Governor is a man that I refer to as a “Talk and Do” Governor; he lives by his words and he leads the people by example. In fact, when he was doing his electioneering campaign in 2015, he promised Abakpa Market free and fair market system, tarred roads that would go round Abakpa Market and street lights automatically before 6 months if he was elected into office and he did everything. Now, if you move around Abakpa market, you would attest to my claims as we now have a clean network road, unlike before. Around June/July every year, you would see dust, mud and rain everywhere, making it difficult to move around the market for business transactions. Now, the street light which turns on from 6pm till 6am everyday helps us in scaring away the criminals and hoodlums moving around the market to steal. So, I can say we are benefiting from his leadership.

Aside the street lights and roads he has put in place, has he done any other SME provisions or projects for the traders?

Actually, he has negotiated with Banks, (United Bank for Africa) for SME soft loans, and has also brought the Bank of Industry (BOI) to Ebonyi State that would be giving soft loans to traders who need those loans to strengthen their business or starting a new business in Ebonyi State. In addition, there is a plan for the relocation of the market from here to its permanent site, he has also spoken to UBA to give out soft loans to traders who don’t have money to acquire a shop or shop space in the new market location. That is to say that the bank would pay for the shop, collect the Certificate of Ownership, the trader can pay the loan bit by bit to the bank, and when the payment is completed, the bank can return the certificate of ownership to the trader who then has the right ownership.

This market is relocating to a new permanent site. Is that a rumor or a fact true?

Based on the last meeting we had with His Excellency on Monday, 2nd of July 2018, he disclosed that we will be relocating to the permanent site, Margerate Umahi International Market Abakaliki latest 1st of October 2018. However, if there be any delay, then it would be from the contractors, as work is ongoing there day in and day out due to the target by the Governor.

Would that decision, moving the Market to another location affect the indigenes around this Market currently in terms of profit, development, etc?

It cannot affect us because we are moving over there to start our normal business. How can it affect us? it is just relocation which would further expand the market for the permanent site is spacious and would accommodate everyone, thereby stopping road side business dealings, and the tight and congested day to day business activities we have presently here. It is a fact that some drivers who are drunk can end up causing motor accident to the traders selling by the road side due to lack of space within the current market.

As the Chairman, do you think the governor is performing to expectation of the people?

In fact, without being vainglorious, he has performed beyond expectation, and far beyond what he promised us in this market. He gave us a fifteen point agenda but has done more than a thirty point agenda. As I am talking to you, we don’t have this tarred road before; you can drive your car around the street, the town safe and no dirt, dust, etc. And in the rural areas, he used concrete and cement to tile the roads which can last over fifty years and above. He is the person renovating this international market which is our soon to be permanent site. But we could not move there because the market has not been completed then. If you go to empowerment scheme given to the women, widows and youths, you would confirm that His Excellency released N250, 000 to each of them to establish any business of their choice. When it comes to the Akubaraoha youths who are now enjoying due to the free Keke (tricycle) that cost N750, 000 each he gave to them. In addition, he gave them the documents and told them to ensure they are making their daily pay as agreed. Coming to infrastructural development in Hospitals, Federal Medical Centre (FMC) has taken over every other private Hospital business in Ebonyi state due to its services. His Excellency later discovered that people from the rural areas and villages making their way to Abakaliki to access the medical services where passing through a lot of stress before getting to Abakaliki, where in some case, patients would die before getting here (FMC, Abakaliki), so this  prompted the governor to establish state hospitals in all the thirteen local government areas in Ebonyi State and if you go now you would see that he has done everything; they are equipped, tiled and they are up and running because I was one of the supervisory committee that went on project  supervision before 29th May which made it his three years in office and I saw marvelous  State Hospitals like the one in Uburu, (Uburu General Hospital).

As a chairman and a politician that you are, what are your political aspirations?

I don’t have any other political aspiration than to be a Chairman for now, then if re-elected, I will still retain my Chairmanship position. However after my second tenure by the Grace of God then I would aim higher for a political appointment or to contest for another office.

What are the challenges you face in handling the Chairmanship position and the market at large?

We have a lot of challenges for dealing with humans is more difficult than leading animals. There are people that feel that they have more money than you do, that they are more educated than you are, that they have more power and connections than you have. So, if you tell them to do things this way, they would disobey. But by the special grace of God, we have been living in peace since I assumed office as the chairman of AAMMTA as everyone is calm doing his or her lawful business. I can find it easy that is the reason why I am happy as the Chairman because I brought peace. The only issue I would say the traders are facing is just Capital. You know, every trader would want to grow higher by investing more capital into his business.

From your predecessor who just handed over to you, do you think he handed over much work to you before leaving office or is it a challenge that you can actually overcome?

Yes, it’s a challenge that I can actually overcome, that I have overcame per se, because when I entered this office, it wasn’t like this and I said “no, it cannot be like this, even if you are already leaving the office”. So, I made a little change and I’m currently waiting till October 1st to make further changes.

What are your final notes or words to marketers, traders and Ebonyians at large?

I advice them to help the governor to enable him lead us well, because if the governor gives us an order that we should do this and you say no, then that disobedience would be bringing the governor’s project backwards. But if the traders support the governor’s decision, then any word that comes out from the governor’s mouth is automatically a law. So my advice to them is to fully support the governor, then our economy would be moving very smooth.