The Yoruba and Igbo factions of a major association in the Olugbede Model Market in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos are poised for a showdown which could result to loss of lives and property if not nipped in the bud.
The Model Market was rated as one of the most peaceable markets in Lagos State until recently when crisis erupted among members of the GSM Association who constitutes about 95 per cent of the market population.
The situation would degenerate and extend to the host Egbeda community except urgent measures are taken by Lagos State Marketing Board, traditional rulers and other concerned authorities.
Historically, the Model market was reportedly started by some Yoruba traders about 40 years ago but due to the relocation challenges being faced by Ikeja GSM village, some Igbo GSM traders were said to have run to Olugbede Model market for succor and were received with open arms but gradually, the ”˜visitors‘ were said to have increased in number and dominated every sphere of the market.
Also, because of the peaceful and friendly nature of the Yorubas, the Igbos were not only allocated shops and stalls but were assisted in securing conducive accommodation in Egbeda and its environs for stress free business transaction but the step was later regretted by the ”˜hosts‘ as the supposed ”˜visitors‘ seems to gain momentum and turned the table round, a step that has resulted into crises among traders of the model market as well as Egbeda youths who are uncomfortable with the way and manner their kinsmen are being treated.
For this reason, the Yoruba traders now liken the development to the case of a man who invited a neighbour to the dining table but due to the satisfaction derived from the delicacy, the neighbour turned around to hold-on to the feeding hand in order to take possession of the whole meal.
Vanguard findings revealed that the market christened the GSM Association for 15 years, was nurtured to make it ripe for leadership. Ever since the Igbos have cornered the major positions for a period of 12 years.
As another election approaches, an electoral committee was inaugurated to oversee the affairs of the market and supervise the forthcoming election. This has degenerated into crises which has brought about police intervention and if care is not taken, there could be a total breaking down of law and order within the market.
During Vanguard‘s visits to the market, there was apprehension and division among the traders as Yorubas and Igbos no longer relate as one.
Also, police authorities have advised that the election be put on hold until normalcy returns to the market.
In a chat with some of the traders, they accused their leaders of mismanagement and insensitivity to members‘ plight and prayed the government to intervene in the situation.
When Vanguard contacted the Chairman of the electoral body in a telephone conversation, he said his office was no longer relevant as the election had been put on hold, ”˜‘the crisis has gone beyond what we think and the Police have intervened. We were asked to suspend the election and put our house in order, as a result, I don‘t think I am in the best position to handle any leadership role in the market,”
When the Chairman of the previous government was contacted, he simply said he was not in his best state of mind.
Meanwhile, the Iyaloja of the market Mrs Adebamowo Musili, said the market authorities are leaving no stone unturned to resolve the crisis, ”˜‘there is no way we will not misunderstand ourselves but it is our duty to resolve it. Both factions belong to us but nobody must be cheated,”
The leader of Egbeda youths, Wahab Okanlawon Ogunji, lamented that the situation if not nipped in the bud could cause breaking down of law and order in the area.
He however said the matter had been taken to the local council development area to no avail, “my sister, we cannot fold our arms and allow things to get out of hands, the traders who are mostly youths have cried to us and we have taken the matter to the LCDA but it is so painful that the Igbos are taking laws into their hands without fear nor favour.”
Effort to reach Iyaloja-General proved abortive as she did not respond to Vanguard calls.