Why we will not vote for APC, by Ladipo traders
•As Fashola, others storm market
IF the All Progressives Congress (APC) must win the gubernatorial elections come April, then the party must begin to look beyond the Ndigbos in the popular Ladipo International Spare Parts Market, Mushin, Lagos.
The traders, it appears, already have their minds skewed in favour of the opposition party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — and this was evident when governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) made a rare visit on Tuesday.
Fashola, in company of the APC guber candidate in Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode, Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Ben Akabueze and Publicity Secretary of the Lagos APC, Joe Igbokwe, among others showed up in the market around 3 p.m. giving reasons why the traders should queue behind the APC in the coming elections.
Words had reached the campaign team that the densely populated Ladipo market, mainly of Igbo immigrants, was already rooting for the PDP candidates, allegedly as payback for the high-handedness of the APC government, under Fashola.
Besides claims that the traders had been offered money by their kinsmen running on the platform of the PDP for State House of Assembly and House of Reps, the Guardian gathered that the dealers have issues with multiple levies and charges by the state, without basic infrastructure to show for the effort.
But the rousing welcome that greeted the August visitors could easily have dispelled the rumour. The duo of Fashola and Ambode mounted the roof top of their campaign vehicle to wave brooms to the ‘cheering’ spare parts dealers and mechanics. Intermittently, they flung pieces of party souvenirs into the crowd as their convoy made way through mucky bad portions of the Ladipo-Mushin road, right in the heart of the market.
President General of all associations in the market, Ikechukwu Anumalu, in his welcome address was quick to disassociate the market from the PDP. Anumalu said, “we are all APC. All 37 chairmen (in the market) have met and have endorsed Ambode to be our next governor,” he said, to a loud roar of approval from his members.
The President General, however reminded the governor and Ambode of the abandoned roads in the market, perennial call for pedestrian bridge at Toyota bus stop and the need to pull a rein on incessant closure of the market at slight provocation.
After Igbokwe and Akabueze had addressed in Igbo, Ambode took the stage with the promise of addressing all works, either undone or uncompleted by Fashola, if he is elected. He had made similar promise at the Ejigbo rally, held on the same day, and in Ipaja, a day before.
Fashola, in his address, said elections avail the all-important opportunity for the public to change a government that they are not comfortable with and ensure continuity for others that had done well.
Apparently taking pride in the cosmopolitan nature of the state, Fashola said the issue at stake had gone beyond partisan politics or ethnicity or religion.
Like he had been campaigning for weeks now, and also at the Tuesday rally in Ejigbo and meeting with members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Lagos State Chapter, Fashola said the country was in dire strait and “the only way to save Nigeria is to vote out the present government at the centre.”
The governor’s hard-knocks really jeered the attentive crowd, who were also entertain by the speaker’s use of Igbo words like Igbo-kwenu, dalu, ndewo, kwezuenuo and nwayo-nwayo.
The entourage left with the conviction that they had converted the market. But the convoy had barely taxied out when the same crowd began to chorus Pee Dee Pee, Power!!!, with a louder cheer that reverberated across the market.
One of the enchanted spare part dealer, Uche Anayo, said the entire market agreed to play along with Fashola and his team, but nothing would change their minds from voting for the PDP, which parades their kinsmen as candidates in the area.
According to him, the traders are miffed at what he described as “multiple taxation regime” of the government, high-handed of the Mushim LGA and failure of road network in the area.
Emeka, a member of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) in the market, told The Guardian that they had been burdened by many levies, among which are trade permit, resident permit and lock-up and parking permits (being an extortion by area boys around the market).
Emeka said: “The market executive wanted the people to support APC but they will not. We want a government that will cut down on all these money we are paying. See, they are collecting N4000 trade permit per person. Even if you are four in a shop, every one will pay N4000 every year. Imagine that amount from all these people in the market, yet the road, they did not do,” he said.
Another who spoke on condition of anonymity added that the state government’s policy were not accommodating enough. He observed that the government had shut down the market severally without consideration for the traders.
“I understand that we have to be clean and properly organised, but why are we paying all these fees if the Local government cannot put things in order?”
But everytime we have issues like that, they will just invited the state task force and close down the market, that is why we will not accept them,” he said.