By Matthew Denis
Traders of Oja-Tuntun otherwise known as Baboko market last Friday staged a protest over what they described as an attempt to destabilize business activities by the Chairperson of Ilorin West Local Government, Hajia Aminat Aromoke Omodara.
The traders closed down their shops as early as 7am thereby gathering at the entrance of the market. They were seen chanting songs and carrying placards with inscriptions; ‘ Omodara you have gone beyond your limit’, ‘Omodara don’t tarnish Saraki’s image’, ‘we don’t want the old excos’, among others.
Speaking on the development, the Financial Secretary, Market Committee, Hayilara Kehinde said,
“We are protesting against the imposition of unbearable actions in our market by the Chairman of Ilorin West Local Government, Hajia Aminat Omodara.
“She stated her intention to demolish some shops and warehouses in the market and we said before she could do that, let her provide alternatives for the owners and she accepted. But along the line she made a U- turn saying she will embark on the demolition of shops first but we disagreed.
“This incident had happened about three years ago when Hajia Omodara was the vice chairman of the council with the old market excos in place. The council demolished about 20 shops and promised to compensate the owners with N50,000 each and a space in another location. We complied but they have failed to fulfil their promise since then,” he disclosed.
Kehinde also accused the Chairperson of planning to erect shops at the market garage despite the small size of the space.
“We approached her and told her our position against building shops at the garage since we (traders) don’t have enough space to park our vehicles and even the customers but she appeared bent on building those shops.
“Since she insisted, we pleaded with her to provide an alternative car park for the traders and our customers but surprisingly, she went on air to pronounce unionism at the market abolished,” he said while also accusing Omodara of planning to collect tax for security, environmental, electricity bill among others from the traders without any attempt to hire tipper to evacuate the refuse in the market.
Also speaking, the Secretary of Igbo Traders Association in the market, Obinna Udunwa, stressed that the market under the present executives has had no issue of burglary or inferno but unfortunately the local government chairperson has failed to recognise their giant stride.
“The new executive has found solution to the incessant fire incident at the market. We have separated our power supply from the community and we now have a step down with control unit where the light is switched off at the central control room 6pm daily when everybody would have closed.
“We (traders) have been contributing money to run the affairs of the market such as electricity, sanitation, and water among others. The local government since last year, promised to refund the money we spent on the new electricity system but they are yet to live up to such promise.”
Responding, Hajia Omodara debunked the allegations, stressing that the local government is determined to restructure the market.
She said “We discovered the marketers needed more shops at the parking lot, which should be their reason for putting containers there. The council has marked the containers to be removed over a year ago before I became the chairperson and we only want to change the containers from temporary to permanent shops.”
On the report that she had abolished the sitting executives, the council boss said, that the government only recognises a registered union which was constituted few years ago but dissolved last year. She added that the local government is working on reconciling the two factions.