Stakeholders Seek Rehabilitation of Oil Mill Market
Oil Mill Market, a strategic commercial venture that attracts traders from various parts of Rivers State and neighboring states every Wednesday appears to be losing its glory.
Besides the decrepit stalls and lock-up shops that dot the market, its surroundings have remained perennially unkempt.
Our correspondent reports that many of the stalls roofs leak each its rains rainfalls, resulting in inconvenience to traders who transact business there daily particularly on Wednesdays.
Wednesdays, our correspondent gathered, were designated as original Oil Mill Market days when people come from different states, such as Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu to transact business.
An indigene of Rumuokwurusi who craved anonymity disclosed that the market generates close to N2.5million revenue every Wednesday from tickets.
Thousands of traders who do business in the market are made to pay up to N1,500 to Rumuokwurushi market officials, while close to N600,000 is generated daily from the market on other days.
A woman who gave her name as Agnes told our correspondent that she pays up to N3,000 every Wednesday to different revenue collectors who pose as Rumuowkurushi market officials. A meat seller who also requested anonymity said there were some Wednesdays he had paid as much as N3, 500 to different groups who claim that they worked for Rumuokwurusi Town Council (RTC).
Rumuokwurusi Town Council, our correspondent gathered, is the body in charge of overseeing the Oil Mill Market and runs the affairs of Rumuokwurusi community.
Paramount Ruler of Rumuchiorlu, a component of Rumuokwurusi HRH, Eze Engr. B. A Worgu, had in a chat with our correspondent blamed Rumuokwurusi Town Council administrations of mismanaging money coming from the Oil Mill Market.
According to him, Rumuokwurusi Town Council was doing wonderfully well when it was started in 1995 by HRH, Eze E. O. Orianwo, Late, Nyerisi Mbam Oro-Esara up till 1998 when it was constitutionally established.
He disclosed that it was RTC that registered Oil Mill Market with Corporate Affairs Commission in 1996 after years of being operated as a little daily market or Ahia Nnempi.
Eze Worgu said the pioneer Rumuokwurusi Town Council made giant strides in sustainable development of the community, lamenting that greed and dishonesty crept into the body from 2003.
According to him, “by 2003, Rumuokwurusi Town Council became a tool in the hands of Obio/Akpor local government council which installed unqualified people as its leaders. Such people introduced greed into the Town Council, resulting in what he described as horrendous mismanagement of huge revenue from oil mill market and from other sources.
Eze Worgu who was the pioneer Chairman of Obio/Akpor local government area said for the past 20 years, Oil Mill had been in bad shape and the Rumuokwurusi Town Council had not done anything to rehabilitate it.
He stressed that the market needed to be rehabilitated and modernized, but lamented that successive Ruomuokwurusi Town Council administrations had not done anything along that line. “The money generated from it always end up in private pockets”, he said.
Rumuokwurusi Town Council, our correspondent gathered, is currently factionalized into groups with each group submitting to different traditional rulers.
The factions didn’t seem to have identifiable offices, making it difficult for our correspondent to speak with any of them.
A former Rumuokwurusi Town Council Chairman, Chief Clifford Wali who also spoke to our correspondent said after factions broke out in Rumuokwurusi Town council leadership, the matter went to court, adding that the court on the advice of some prominent indigenes appointed a caretaker to take charge of affairs of the council and manage Oil Mill Market.
The caretaker chairman, Professor Chukwu, who he said is not an indigene of Rumuokwurusi, as mandated by the court to pay money accruing from the Oil Mill market to a dedicated account on behalf of the community, pending the determination of the suit.
He expressed worries that the community could lose some revenue from that kind of arrangement and prayed for speedy dispensation of justice.
Hon. Solomon Eke, Obio/Akpor Council Chairman was contacted on phone to speak on the issue, particularly on the area where it was alleged that past Obio/Akpor Council Administrations had imposed successive Rumuokwurusi Town Council Executives, but he did not respond, nor reply a text message sent to him.