Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s government and traders at the Ariaria Market in Aba are in a war of words following the delay in reconstructing a part of the market.
The traders accused Mr Ikpeazu of delaying the reconstruction of the affected part of the market to give new shops to his cronies as parting gifts.
Cletus Okorie, a former chairman of the Ariaria Medicine Line affected by the demolition, had told journalists that the reconstruction had yet to take off fully since September 2021.
He alleged that Mr Ikpeazu had no plan to return the shops to the original owners.
“There was no forum where the governor told the traders that he would rebuild and hand over the shops to their owners. Rather, it was in the news media that we heard it,’’ he said.
However, the permanent secretary of the ministry of trade and investment, Michael Egwu, denied the allegation that Mr Ikpeazu delayed the reconstruction to favour his cronies.
“We have architects and engineers and all the professionals who are consultants on their own,” Mr Egwu stated. “The governor assembled them to ensure that the jobs that are being done will stand the test of time and outlive the generation that is to come, at least up to 100 years.”
The permanent secretary stressed that the allegation against the Abia government was false and baseless.
“If factors like the rains and delay in funds affect the project, does that take us to the argument that the government doesn’t want to complete the project? That is a no,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, some traders claimed they were told to pay N20,000 to a bank to collect allocation forms and N5 million to own a shop after reconstruction.
The traders lamented that the arrangement was unthinkable after they had been rendered penniless with the demolition of shops they had initially built.
Source: Peoples Gazette.