Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Oha Obollo Community in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State has frowned at an alleged attempt by the Chairman of the local government, Solomon Onah, to build shops at the Obollo-Afor Motor park in the twilight of his administration.
The chairman’s tenure is expected to end in February 2024, barely five months away from now.
A source told our correspondent that on Sunday last week, the park was invaded by bulldozers and trucks aided by some security personnel.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the action attracted reactions from the people, who demanded to know who directed the actions.
It was later discovered that the invaders were acting on the orders of the chairman of Udenu Local Government, Hon. Solomon Onah.
A statement by one, Nduka Nnadi, later finally put to rest as to who ordered the actions by stating clearly that the chairman, Hon. Solomon Izuchukwu Onah, had decided to expand the market and give it a facelift.
In his piece entitled: “REVITALIZING OBOLLO-AFOR MARKET: Setting the record straight,” Nnadi said that the market had suffered neglect over the years hence the chairman’s timely intervention.
The statement reads in part: “Unfortunately, over the years, the market has suffered from poor delineation and underdevelopment.
“However, a ray of hope has emerged with the current executive Chairman of Udenu LGA, Hon. Solomon Izuchukwu Onah, who has taken it upon himself to give the market a much-needed facelift.
“Despite his noble intentions, the chairman faces opposition from individuals who benefit from the existing market conditions and spread baseless allegations against his project.
“The chairman’s main objective is to enhance the market’s overall infrastructure, benefiting both traders and customers alike.
“One of the major initiatives undertaken is the expansion of the motor park, thereby increasing the market’s capacity to accommodate more vehicles and facilitate smoother transportation.
“This expansion directly caters to the needs of the traders and visitors by improving accessibility and easing congestion.
“Additionally, the Chairman is actively working towards delineating the market space, ensuring a systematic layout that optimises the available land.
“By doing so, he is creating an environment conducive for the growth and prosperity of businesses in Obollo Afor market.
“This not only enhances safety and organisation but also attracts more traders and customers, fostering economic development in the metropolis.
“As part of his inclusive strategy, the chairman is empowering the traders and market women who have long been subjected to exploitative renting practices.
“It is disheartening to witness these individuals paying exorbitant rents, up to 15,000 Naira per month, just to sell their goods under umbrellas.
“These monies goes to the private purses of few capitalists, who are merchants of embezzlement.
“The chairman’s vision involves providing these traders with designated stalls or shops, ensuring fair and affordable prices for rent.
“This move not only secures a stable trading environment but also promotes entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency.”
Nnadi further expressed regret that the effort of the chairman has generated controversy.
“Unfortunately, the noble efforts of the chairman have been marred by baseless allegations and misinformation spread by opposition politicians and those benefiting from the current unfavorable condition of the market.
“These detractors have flooded social media platforms with falsehoods, falsely accusing the Chairman of misappropriating lands in Obollo Afor market,” Nnadi said.
He further claimed that the chairman’s focus lay solely on expanding the motor park, for much-needed improvement rather than a misappropriation.
He said: “Let it be known that the peddlers of these falsehoods failed to tell the people that the motor park space which measured less than 2,500 square meters prior to the commencement of this project, now has 3,311 square meters, as the space gets decongested.
“They also refused to tell their gullible listeners that it was petty traders and artisans who have been victims of exorbitant rent for canopy and umbrella spaces that cried to the Local Government to intervene and rescue them.”
Meanwhile, the Obollo Community, through their apex cultural organisation, Oha Obollo, has promptly waded into the matter.
According to our source the Oha Obollo, which was not also comfortable with the development has halted the new construction at the park until further notice.
A competent source revealed that the State Deputy Governor, Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai, who is also from Udenu Local Government, has decided to intervene on the matter, hence the suspension of the project.
It was also learnt that the chairman, Onah, gave the project to his friends and cronies, who advertised for Expression of Interest forms for the N2000 stalls at N25000.
A trader, at the park, while speaking on the issue wondered why the local government chairman would mobilise security agents for such project if it was actually for the benefit of the people.
“Secondly, why should they start the project on Sunday, with police well armed and rushing the project?
“I am highly suspicious of that project,” he said.