Katagum Emirate Council, Azare Market Inferno and the Matters Arising, By Ibrahim Mohammed Aboki

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I write to register my dismay over how things have been turned upside down as regard to the Azare main market and stand of the business men belonging to it; specifically, how the victims misunderstood and put all the blame on Katagum emirate council. I am sad because one; about 95% of the victims are small scale business owners- who live below one dollar per day and get what they eat and give to their families instantly on everyday basis left with no option for all this long and two; while putting all the blame on the emirate behind their eyes; the tradition and culture doesn’t allow one to contradict the opinion of his eminence, the father of the land, emir Baba Umar Farouq, in his presence.

Since the occurrence of the most-worst fire incidence ever experienced in the history of Azare main market from June 17th to 18th, 2018; which took over 700 shops, destroyed properties worth 1.5 billion naira, with more than 10,000 people being estimated to be either direct or indirect victims of the inferno; the stand of the victims has been worsening and remained unclear as the remains of the market has been demolished for a new modern market will be built with the agreement that shop owners will be transferred to another market, which is under construction- something they suspect might be unconnected with permanent relocation for the Katagum Emirate Council- who doesn’t own the market is at fore front of handling the market affairs since the inferno- a position expected to be assumed by Katagum Local Government, the soul owner of the market.

Furthermore, the huge amount of money (125 million naira) donated to the victims through the emirate council by many dignitaries including NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar among others are recently reported to be used for microfinance Bank, where the business men will be given interest free loan with their shops serving as collateral instead of giving to the victims as it was meant and donated for. Good number of them are illiterates and are not exposed to or believe in seeking business grants not to talk of taking bank loan- what most of them see as impossible.

Unlike most victims, I am not putting all the blame on the emirate and I am fully aware that emirate council has every right to intervene and assist in the affairs of the members of its council as it is the case with the Azare market now. But it is good for them to, before intervening, consult its members on what they like and what they dislike, and after having dialogue advise them on the next line of action. The consultation can be directly or indirectly through representatives. I am the witness that the emirate council consulted the representative of Azare market before taking all their decisions. Sad to say, although they are there to represent the market and its members but since day one of inferno are always in the side of the emirate, probably because of sycophancy and the tradition of giving respect to whom it is due like the first-class emir. Even among the union executive officials, there are backbiting and gossipping making round that, ‘we were not well represented at the emirate council. All their plans contradicts our wishes, something has to be done to change the narration’, saying some of them.

On behalf of the victims of Azare market inferno, I call on the all authorities concern, specifically Bauchi State Government, Katagum Local Government, Katagum Emirate Council and Azare Market Unions to come together, attend to the victims’ complaints, overhaul the process, and come up with a robust plan that will make us all laugh at the end; not this one that creates confusion and places the blame on the emirate, which I am sure, doesn’t have intention of cheating us. Rather it is trying to assist us catch up with ‘the world class business men’, as the emir said it many times even before the incidence of fire out-break took place. For, whatever decision they might take, we, members of the market are at the receiving end.

Aboki, a victim of the inferno,

And a Publicity Secretary,

Katagum Youth Traders Association,

Azare, Bauchi State.

imaboki@yahoo.com

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