IKA WEEKLY INVESTIGATION: WE ARE SHORT CHANGED-IKA MARKET WOMEN

At what point in the history of a
nation do people begin to enjoy the benefits of a good government? And why
are  almost all arms of government always
aloof from it’s people? Political power is derived from the people and without
their mandate, power on its own is of no effect. Whenever people go out on
election days to cast their votes, what they are saying in essence is �we
believe in the leaders ability to direct and fulfill all electoral promises.
Whenever promises are not kept, people usually feel cheated, disappointed and
ignored. For several years now, our people have felt this way, and have even
lost hope that someday a people centered government will administer the affairs
of the land. Our women in Ika land have not been fairly treated by the Delta
State and the two local councils. While statistics have it that women are in
the majority, many of them have been short changed in the scheme of things. Ika
women are very valuable and priceless beyond estimation and important to the
development and growth of our community and indeed, any community. In
recognition of their importance to society, several governments in Nigeria and
even more recently, the Edo and Ekiti States governments have put programmes in
place for the continuous financial empowerment of women. Ika women deserve no
less a reward for all the roles they are playing alongside their male counter
parts in ensuring that households are well catered for.

From Baleke, CTC, to the garage
market, wherever you go, our women are actively involved in serious economic
and commercial activities. How well the local councils administer the
environment where these women carry on their business leaves very much to be
desired. The market place is one big busy place where people at the helm of
affairs in government do not pay attention to. A market can be described as a
public place where people buy and sell goods and services, and a place where
mostly women sell and people buy commodities at the best price obtainable. A
visitor to any of these  markets does not
have to look too far to see that women are in the majority and indeed anywhere
there is a market. Just imagine for a moment visiting a market to make a
purchase, what greets you at the entrance is a heap of refuse or let us assume
the possibility of feeling like going to the toilet or passing urine; the best
alternative available is either to take a bike home or do it anywhere possible.
This typifies what our markets are.

Baleke market situated in the heart
of Orogodo Metropolis has no toilet facility, no water, no security and plenty
of refuse waste abound the market area. 
CTC is another place that cannot pass for a market because it is in a
terrible state of disrepair. For crying out loud, these market places are where
humans like you and I go each day to do business and a sitting  government seems unconcerned about the well
being of the people that looks up to it for proper direction and guidance. One
begins to wonder what kind of democracy we are practicing. Obviously, this is
no democracy at all. How much would it have caused the government to put these
simple, yet very important facilities in place for use by the people. Many of the
women our correspondents spoke to are quite elderly. If it’s feasible to
establish a local government secretariat with a toilet facility, security, and
water, why do the people in government think it is not proper to set up our
markets without proper facilities and maintenance. Where does the government
expect the market women and those who patronize them to answer to the call of
nature. These are primary expectation from women who toil day and night to
contribute to community developments.

The refuse in Baleke market remains
uncleared and when it is collected, it is superficially done with the
caterpillar removing some parts of the whole refuse. If the interest of the
people is very paramount to the powers that be, a thorough job would been done
by ensuring the complete removal of all refuse at the entrance of the market.
The continuous presence of refuse in the market has a relation to the amount of
sales, since no one will want to do business in a filthy and disease infested
environment. And this is the reality that many women must contend with each day
to survive.

When we got to CTC market, we were
seized with shock and disbelief at what we saw. The market is in a wonky state
and almost all the corrugated roofing sheets have become tattered with holes in
them. We were shown a heap of abandoned or forgotten refuse covered with weeds
that have turned into a �hilly bush�. Refuse in this market is collected once
in a �blue moon�, and when they do, it is not completely removed. What could be
more properly done than to remove completely refuse found at the dump site. The
councils only replicates what is done in other places by removing some  waste and leaving the rest for God knows
when. The toilet that is available for use is another disgusting sight where
any body who cares, to use the pit latrine must hold his or her nose away from
the stench oozing out from the refuse dump and must  also be prepared to contend with
coachroaches, reptiles and other elements for the ownership of the place. We
also saw a disused  toilet covered with
tick weed. Getting close to it was a arduous task as we were not able to wade
through the bush as we were informed that the only entrance to the toilet have
been allegedly sold and converted to a shop. Credible governments do not use
state craft against it’s people, rather render proper stewardship to those who
they represent and fulfill all promises ad infinitum. When people begin to beg
the government that was voted for, to keep simple or prmary electoral promises,
it becomes a misnomer or almost incomprehensible.

The whole essence of having a
government is to meet the needs of its citizens. Whenever issues that bothers
on the well being of its people are raised, political undertones shouldn’t be
read to it. As long as human’s exist, needs must be met. But it leaves very
much to be desired if government must be reminded of its fundamental duties.
Government officials must sit up and be alive to their roles and
responsibilities. Our mothers, sisters and a few of the men in the market place
cannot continue to do business in an environment detrimental to their health
and finances. This is the fundamental truth that must be sank into the hearts,
of our local council representatives.

We interviewed a cross section of the
market women who frowned at governments unfeeling, unkind, and aloof attitudes
towards them. They all spoke candidly and this is what they have to say; Sunday
Umeh said; �I am eagerly and anxiously hoping to see a better society where
people in government will listen to the people. Personally I am not too pleased
with the way the council is handing the issue of refuse. They don’t come
regularly, and when they  come it is only
to remove some and leave the rest. The bins are too small for the volume of
waste generated here�.

Rita Aliagwu, an old woman  said; �I have been here since I was a little
child. .When next the refuse collectors are coming, ask them to bring  shovel and rake to remove the ones around the
borehole.  The Caterpillar alone cannot
remove all the refuse without human assistance. We do not have a place to
defecate, there is no water. The previous toilet we had was destroyed by fire
and since this new one was built, it has not been put to use. It is really
shameful that we have a market without a place of convenience. Mrs. Juliana
Kosonyeme said: �when the refuse vehicle comes around on some sanitation days,
they will only take a little in front and leave the rest. Every where is
smelly. Its not healthy for us here. They should open the toilet. We need toilet.
Nicholas Etumido said: �When the market is messy, people wont want to come to a
smelly place. There is no water. Tell the 
government to remove this pollution. The water here was dug by Doris
Ugboh. I really feel for these women. I wonder where they pass waste. I beg
government to give the women a better business environment. Mrs. Rosaline Okoh
said: �When this market was  built, it
was a beautiful sight to behold. With the passing of time, things have really
gotten worse. Now, there is no security. Do you know the market is not secured?
Government should please give us security. We need toilet too. Imagine us
sitting here from morning till evening without toilet. It’s unfortunate. But
this is the truth. And the refuse is not regularly collected. They should be up
and doing�

Mrs. Victoria Asaboh said:
�Government should ask all the people selling along the road to come into the
market. Why must some people be selling along Akpanyi Street where there is no
market? They should stop people from selling along the road because it’s risky.
Here, we need a toilet. Imagine what a pregnant woman who is under pressure
will go through before passing urine or defecating?  It’s very unfair on the part of our
governments. We also want them to cement the floor of the market and make the
market conducive for us and our customers.

Edith Ikechukwu said: �We need
toilet, water and a good environment. Refuse is driving customers away. When it
rains, the market is always flooded. The smell here is too much�. Rosaline
Odiah said; �There is no store here. At the end of the day, we usually carry
our commodities home. We expect a compassionate government to provide these
elementary provisions like water and good stalls. Tell them we are under the
threat of erosion�. Juliet Ojogun said: �There used to be a meat market here,
but now all the meat sellers have left because of the stench. The government is
very unkind. What you see here is a breeding ground for diseases. Is the
government not supposed to clean the environment? They are not working at all
here. The market is in a mess and the market masters just comes and walks
around. We expect him to go and report to his bosses in the council about the
state of the market. We only hope they will read our complaints and act on it�.
Mrs. Faith Ebigo said: �I have spent 32years in this market. On Orie market
days when we should be selling a lot, it is empty because there is a parallel
market at Akpanyi, Street. It is a Street and not a market. Government should
ask everybody to come in here so as to increase commercial activities. Our
market smells. If an individual has stomach problem, what would you expect. The
people in the council have their own toilets, why cant they give as a toilet.
We are humans too. We  expect them to
have a human face. They should show consideration to us. We are mothers and
responsible citizens of Ika nation. They should also remember to repair the
gate to make the market secure. They should remove completely all these filth
and diseases around us�. Mrs. Rose Ebonka said: �Refuse is too much around us
and this drives customers away. Pregnant and old women are here selling among
us. Where do they answer the call of nature? Our market master should have a
befitting office. No security. Incase you forget something here, you must
quickly rush back so that nobody will steal it. We are at the mercy of
burglars. Please beg them to clear refuse regularly.

Our leaders in the two councils must
key into president Goodluck Jonathan’s 35% affirmation for women in Nigeria as
a great step towards womens rights, liberation and empowerment by orchestrating
and enforcing policies to ameliorate their burden. The borehole at Baleke
market was said to have been dug by Doris Ugboh for the market women at the
heat of her campaign for 2011 election which she did not win. And since then,
she has never visited the market and the market women, neither has she ever
bothered to see to the maintenance of the borehole. The questions now are; what
was her intention in donating the borehole? Was it is just to deceive them, get
their votes and then abandon them like it now shows? If that was so, who is
fooling who? Will it cost her more than N50, 000 monthly to maintain it? Is it
not now obvious that she has fooled the people? Does that not show how myopic
Ika politicians are, not working for the future? What moral courage and
justification will a politician who has done this to her people have to come
and talk to them about elections again? It will be very, very good for our
politicians to know that it is better to be working for the future rather now,
now and their pockets for which they are known for. As a matter of urgency, the
legitimate complaints of these market women must be addressed to the minutest
detail since this land belongs to all us. Ika people are in dare need of
selfless leadership and ones that fears God and we belive God fearing leaders
exist in the two Ika council areas.

It was Obafemi Awolowo who said. �The
ultimate purpose of a state is to enable its citizens enjoy the fruits of their
labour and live a full and happy life�. In our desire to build a better
society, the very needs of our market women must not be ignored as employing
council resources to give them a better environment is very crucial to their
growth and development. Toilet and water are fundamental necessities of every
day existence which must be speedily provided by the two local councils. Truly,
of more worth is a government that dignifies citizens than one that ignores
them. A stitch in time they say saves nine.

Watch out next week as we feature the
sanitary condition of Ika North east, i.e Ebu Owa market, garage market,
Umunede market , Oyoko market etc.

We urge communities whose environment
is not taken care of by the councils to reach us.

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