The Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, has warned Igbo groups against misconstruing the demolition of the Owonifari Market in Oshodi by the Lagos State Government.
Some Igbo groups, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, had accused the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led government of punishing the Igbo by demolishing the market which was occupied mainly by the Igbo.
However, Igbokwe said the market was demolished in accordance with the state’s megacity plan.
He said the allegation that Ambode demolished the market because the Igbo did not vote for him in the April 2015 governorship election was nonsensical.
The APC spokesperson said former Governor Babatunde Fashola had planned to demolish the market as far back as 2007 because it constituted an environmental hazard.
He explained that the traders had continued to oppose all the peace moves by the state government until the government had no other choice but to take a drastic action.
He said, “Former Governor Fashola had planned to evacuate that market right inside the Oshodi Roundabout loop since 2007 when he came into office. The market was an eyesore. A committee was set up to ensure its relocation. I was in that committee and Mr. Ben Akabueze was also in that committee.
“We held several meetings at the Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Council with the market leaders. A lot of politics, mistrust, blackmail and ethnicity played out on where to move the market to. Governor Fashola stopped the committee and forged ahead to secure a place at Isopakodowo Market now called Oshodi Resettlement Market.”
“This new market has been there for years and these traders refused to relocate. Fashola left office without moving the market even though he cleared the bigger problem and the bigger mess called Oshodi. Ambode moved in last week to do the needful when all the avenues of dialogue which have been going on in the last eight years failed to yield positive results.”
Igbokwe said it was unfortunate that anytime the state government wanted to develop a market, Igbo leaders would turn the matter into a tribal issue.
He explained that a similar case happened at the Berger Auto Dealers Market. Igbokwe noted that for eight years, Fashola tried to move the market to Mowe in Ogun State but the traders resisted it and took the state government to court.
Igbokwe said, “Defeatist attitude and persecution complex is not the way to go at a time like this. Igbo leaders in Lagos must help our traders to respect constituted authority in their own interest.” (Punch)