By Mazi Omife I. Omife ( MON)
One of my friends had an awful experience at Onitsha the other day.
The time was about 8 p.m. at MCC junction or whatever they called the place. He escaped death by the whiskers in the hands of criminals who stripped him of everything he had, money, luggage, wrist watch and nearly even his clothes and left him in bruises for daring to resist attack. It was a terrible experience for him.
Nobody perhaps expects the largest commercial city in West Africa that Onitsha is to be entirely crime free.
We are talking of controlling and reducing its rate of occurrence.
So my first advice to the Special Adviser to Soludo on markets is roll up his sleeves tight enough in the area of security in Anambra markets, with particular regard to Onitsha market.
I am not here to teach him his job, but it is important he takes proactive measures to shield Onitsha markets from the menace of criminals which is gradually returning to former notorious joints in Onitsha, such as bridge head, MCC, Upper Iweka fly over, Uga junction, Nkwelle junction, and other spots.
I am sure the Special adviser does not need to be advised on the necessity and indispensability of liaising and working in synergy with the various security apparatus in all the local governments with big markets in the task of securing our markets against crime and criminals in all their ramifications.
In the specific case of Onitsha, if these hoodlums that stalk innocent travelers day and night at MCC and bad spots are allowed to penetrate Onitsha markets, then we are bound to see a return of other problems like fire outbreaks as was the case before.
The former Special adviser on markets , Hon. Ngonadi tried his best in management of markets, including security management.
We all believe that the current special adviser, with his impressive credentials antecedents and a well known person in Onitsha as well as a former chairman of Onitsha local government for years, will do better in re-organizing and streamlining the leadership and management system in Anambra markets, Onitsha in particular, which is key and fundamental to effective security in the market and Onitsha as whole.
There was a period in Anambra State when leaders of various markets became lords unto themselves above the government and held the government to ransom. They became tin gods, defied government market administration policies and formulated their own which they forced down on government, including indiscriminate imposition of levies on helpless traders, through which they all became billionaires, building chains of houses all over the place.
They became so powerful that they could even install traditional rulers of their various communities.
Such was the level and excess of their reckless abuse of leadership until Soludo came to power and did one good thing which was to dissolve most of the existing market associations and organize new ones.
What I will tell the current adviser for him to succeed, there are certain things he must do.
1. He must ensure he works with leaders he is sure of their loyalty to the State government. If he allows people he is not sure of their loyalty, that will be an invitation to another era of crime and confusion in our markets.
2. Apart from loyalty, he must ensure that every market leader has requisite capacity, sense of responsibility and personal integrity.
3. Every market section should organize its own round-the-clock security system, including CCTV, ICT, security alarm system and Identity cards for every trader in the section.
4. Every market section should operate a center gate as well as exit gates for emergency only.
5. Every section should have a functional fire service equipment through liaison with the State fire service.
6. All levies must be approved by government. No sectional head should impose any levy of any kind on its members without clearance from the Special adviser.
7. The special adviser should set up a covert monitoring group to ensure compliance with laid down rules and regulations guiding the market and report any infringement immediately.
8. Ensure regular consultation and interaction with market leaders to assess progress as well as identify needs and problems of traders and proffer solutions.
If these measures are put in place, things will work well.
I wish him luck.