The Anambra State government has disbanded the Amalgamated Market Traders’ Association (AMATAS), the umbrella body of all markets in the state, which had piloted the affairs of markets in the state for the past 12 years.
The state government had consequently reconstituted the defunct Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders’ Association (ASMATA) and inaugurated its 34-member leadership under Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, former chairman of Onitsha Main Market, as its president general.
Other members of the market body include Jude Agumadu, first vice president; Obinna Okechukwu, second vice president; Chinwendu Ezeigwe, woman leader; Rosemary Anazodo, secretary general; Nelson Ojukwu, treasurer; and Ikechukwu Victor Orizu, welfare officer.
G.U Okeke, Chief Innocent Chukwuma and Rommy Ezeonwuka will also serve as patrons to the market body.
The ASMATA, as reconstituted, will have the following zonal leaders: Eddy Muozom and Obinna Okechukwu, Nnewi zone; Emma Eddy and Ndubisi Ochiogwu, Ogbaru zone; Sam Emeka, Onitsha zone; Tony Ezechukwu Onwuetiaka, Idemili zone; Anayo Nweke, Awka zone and Humphrey Anuna/Okafor Ugochukwu, Aguata zone; among other members.
The executive will enjoy a renewable tenure of three months.
Inaugurating the ASMATA leadership at the Jerome Udoji Secretariat complex, Awka, at the weekend, the Commissioner, Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Wealth Creation, Dr. Christian Madubuko, charged the executive to maintain peace in all the markets in the state, maintain clean market environment and to ensure without compromise, that all revenue derivable from markets, and accruable to the state government are judiciously paid into government treasury.
He told the executives that they were also charged with the responsibility of conducting credible election into the ASMATA leadership whenever government tells them to do so, adding that they will be collectively or individually relieved of their positions if they are found guilty of connivance of stealing government fund.
Outlining reasons for the disbandment of AMATAS and reconstitution of ASMATA, Madubuko said, “Sometime ago, during the Chris Ngige regime, Anambra State inaugurated ASMATA. Unfortunately, that noble association that would have united traders in the state, was abolished and was replaced with AMATAS. Eventually, AMATAS had been there for the past 12 years.
“Unfortunately, at the end of the tenure of the out-gone President General of AMATAS, Okwudili Ezenwankwo, they were not able to conduct election or constitute new leadership, and the market body was marred by crisis of leadership. State government stepped in and AMATAS told government that it was a non-governmental organisation and would not entertain outsiders coming into their affair, and, as such, they went to court to claims that government has no affairs in AMATAS.
“So, being that we do not want to go to court with anybody, we told them to carry their AMATAS to the sea; and we decided to revive our ASMATA, as an umbrella body for markets and traders in the state. AMATAS can go to court. Let them also win the case; whatever they want to do with it, that is their business. We have revived our ASMATA, and that is the only legitimate umbrella body for traders in the state; and that is the market leadership we know.”
Speaking after the inauguration of the ASMATA leadership, one of the patrons, Romney Ezeonwuka, said the new market body will focus on restoring the integrity of doing business in Anambra. He claimed that under AMATAS, market leadership allowed touts to infiltrate markets, chasing customers away; but said that under the new regime, the ease of doing business in Anambra will be restored and promoted.
Also speaking, the zonal leader in charge of Nnewi, Edward Muozom, who is also the President General of Nnewi Market Associations, thanked state government for finding him fit for the position, saying that though he has been in the leadership of markets in Nnewi over the years, yet, he would redouble his efforts, especially in the area of raising revenue from the markets for the state.
The second vice president of the ASMATA, Obinna Okechukwu, who is also the chairman, New Auto Spare Parts Association, Nnewi, said his track records earned him the new post. He said he would work harmoniously with other executive members to realise the objectives for which they were inaugurated.