By Bose Adelaja
FOR the past few days, Adigun Street in the Ikeja area of Lagos has become a Mecca of sorts as people throng the place to mourn with the family of the departed President-General, Association of Nigerian Market Women and Men, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, who died last Saturday at the age of 96.
The late Mogaji was mother of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Also, on Monday and Tuesday, trading activities were suspended in some parts of Lagos in solidarity with family of the departed who championed the cause of Nigerian traders for many years. Her remains were laid to rest last Sunday, at the Vaults and Garden Cemetery, Ikoyi.
On both days, most open markets were shut to business as the affected markets were under lock and key, although there were isolated complaints by some of the traders who said they were not carried along by their leaders.
The Lagos State Government had earlier announced that all markets will be closed on Tuesday but some market leaders went the extra mile to direct that the closure should begin from Monday. This led to heated arguments and outright quarrels between traders and their leaders in some of the markets, especially when members of a special task force set up for the purpose of enforcing the closure went round to impound goods from those who did not comply with the directive.
When Vanguard Metro visited some of the markets, it was found that partial compliance was the order of the day, although the gates leading into most of the markets were under lock and key as some traders stood in groups to discuss the development, while others were seen transacting their businesses by the road sides.
At the popular Mile 12 market, the two gates were shut but trading activities took place on the road sides until later in the day when the traders were sent home by their leaders. Also at the popular Katankowa Market by Super Bus-stop along Lagos-Abeokuta Express Road, the hustling and bustling associated with the market was clearly absent but some smart traders surreptitiously transacted their businesses near the market. Same was the case at Aswani market, Idumota, Alaba International market and Oke-Odo market.
On Monday, some traders were seen loitering around Oshodi with many of them telling VM that there was no prior notice by their leaders on the closure. “We’re are being forced to comply with the directive; our leaders did not carry us along,’’ said some of the traders.
In Ikorodu, Sabo Market was initially shut on Monday before it was re-opened in the afternoon.
One of the traders there told Vanguard Metro she had to observe the directive to avoid embarrassment from street urchins. “My sister, I obeyed because area boys usually hijack such occasions to steal our wares,” she said.
At Mile 12, a road-side trader, Mrs. Orisabiyi Dada, was upset at the development, saying that she and her four children depend solely on sales from her petty business since the demise of her husband six years ago. “Education is free in Lagos State but food and clothing are not free. I feed my family from the daily sales; that is why I had to come to the road side today,” she said.
However, Mr. Ajagbe Tijani said he was satisfied with the closure. ‘’Alhaja Mogaji tried for traders and we need to contribute our own quota to honour her,’’ he quipped.
In a chat with Vanguard Metro, Mile 12 Market Financial Secretary, Alhaji Shehu Usman, said the closure was part of activities to honour the late market leader who served the cause of traders conscientiously. “The two gates to Mile 12 market are shut; this is to honour our late leader who fought the cause of Nigerian traders.
We don’t regret today’s action as we have instructed our members to ensure total compliance,” he said. Also, National President, Traders Rights Protection Initiative, Comrade Chris Okpala, said on Monday, all markets in Lagos Island were affected by the closure, including those dealing mainly on food stuff. “All markets were advised to observe total compliance on Tuesday in honour of the late legend. This is necessary because of the personality involved. Alhaja Abibat Mogaji was a great leader.”
On the partial compliance with the directive, he said some of the traders got the information late. According to him: “Some of our members did not get the information and they opened their shops but we later went round to inform them and they returned home.”