By ABAH ADAH, Abuja
Traders of Garki Model Market have expressed gratitude to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his recent unscheduled visit to the market, saying it has brought hope their way.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP in his office yesterday in the market, the Chairman, Garki Model Market Association (GAMMA), Chief Friday Ozochi, described the visit as a very significant and historic one as it was the first ever visit paid the market by any President and not one of the subordinates since the current Democratic journey began.
“We the entire members of this market appreciate and are grateful to the vice-president for the visit even as we urge him to remember to look into our challenges.
“The has given hope to traders in the country as a proof that this government of President Muhammadu Buhari is ready to work with the masses.
He noted that his members stand to benefit a lot from the visit, saying “when he came, he had the opportunity of speaking with the traders one on one and found out that the traders are suffering so he set up a committee of stakeholders instantly to be headed by his S. A. on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Tola Johnson, with a mandate to look into the challenges on ground and report back to him.
“And like I pointed out to him during the visit, the so called market management is our biggest challenge as they care very less about the traders’ interest and welfare. The management is milking the dry traders dry, leaving them with little or nothing at the end of the day.
“Traders only hear via the media about the billions government has allocated to growing SMEs; political traders who usually parade themselves as traders before the government do not allow us to even catch a glimpse of such monies.”
“Yet for the four years that I have been the Chairman, all issues confronting traders have been shouldered by my office. No percentage, no matter how small is given to the market association to run its affairs”
Chief Ozochi alleged that traders are made to pay double charges for rent and “what the management call service charges”.
“When you come to rent a shop, you are directed to go and pay the rent and service charges to one individual somewhere as landlord, whereas the same management told us that the shops belong to government; and thereafter, the same management would come and ask for the same money such that if one is to pay N300, 000 for example, he pays N600, 000,” he explained.
According to him, 90 per cent of the shops are deliberately given out to civil servant friends and relatives of members of the management.
“So the traders are working for them, with little or nothing to gain on their toil. There is gross injustice in the manner the management is handling the affairs of this market; yet they don’t want anyone to talk about it as I am doing now, and if you do, you do so at your own risk,” he said.
Citing injustice as one of the root causes of insecurity in the country, Chief Ozochi called for urgent government’s intervention, admonishing that injustice be fought alongside corruption to a standstill if insecurity must be tackled holistically.