The Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association Logo.
Story by Dili Utomi.
One of the Igbo socio- economic organisations, the Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association Lagos State led by its President, Comrade Chinedu Ukatu on the 18th of May met with their Grand Patron, Professor Obiora Okonkwo and presented the list of the newly elected executive members of the association to him. Professor Okonkwo was a gubernatorial candidate in Anambra State and the Chairman of the United Nigeria Airlines.
Comrade Ukatu disclosed this in Abuja during a courtesy call by the Association on the Grand Patron to intimate him of their activities and recent developments in the association.
He stated that the tenure of the last executive of the association which he was the General Secretary expired since October 2022, but because of the situation in the country then, a meeting was held where they unanimously agreed that their tenure should be extended for a few months and untill after the 2023 general elections and that the executive election eventually came up on May 1st 2023.
Continuing, he said: “To the glory of God, the election was held, even as it was free and fair. Consequently, the new executive members that will pilot the affairs of this association for the next 4 years has emerged. So, it is for this reason that we are here to brief you as our Grand Patron, and also to seek your advice on the forward”.
The new president of the Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association, Comrade Chinedu Ukatu.
It must be noted that Comrade Chinedu Ukatu is also the Secretary of Akuluouno International Traders Association, owners of Akuluouno International Market Enugu. He is also a member of the Lagos State Markets Advisory Board.
In his response, the Chairman of the United Nigeria Airlines, Professor Obiora Okonkwo also known as Dikeora commended the new executive members for the successful conduct of a free and fair election. He used the opportunity to say that Igbo traders, especially those who reside in Lagos State, contribute trillions of naira to Nigeria’s economy, yearly. He added that it is important to buttress the point that this association controls over 58 markets across Lagos State which are dominated by the Igbos.
Speaking further, Chief Obiora admonished the association to make their presence more prominent and publicise their contributions to the nation’s economy in order to earn the needed respect or recognition.
“You’ve done something worthy of emulation by electing your new executive members, and INEC needs to emulate you. As your National Grand Patron, I did not interfere in your election and I must at this juncture say that it is important that those in leadership positions should allow the people to chose who leads them”.
Dikeora added that “This group needs recognition from the Government. And for you to be appreciated, you need to let people see the wealth and money you bring to Lagos State. You indeed need to give this association the recognition it needs across Nigeria. There is nothing wrong in being a trader. I’m a trader and a professor”.
“Traders should be proud of themselves. Onitsha Market has trained many billionaires. I’m a product of Onitsha Market and we’re all over the world, making Nigeria proud.”
Professor Obiora Okonkwo, OFR, is the Founder/President of the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the President of the Nigeria-Belgium Business Forum, and a visiting Professor at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.
In conclusion, Prof. Okonkwo, thanked the association for finding him worthy of being their patron and promised to always work and contribute his quota in order to move the association forward.
Thereafter, a list of the newly elected executives was presented to him
by the President of the association, Hon. Ukatu.
In continuation of their courtesy visit, the leadership of the association visited a Deputy Speaker aspirant, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu a Member of the House of Representatives who they informed that they had come all the way from Lagos to honour for his outstanding leadership qualities and good representation and not just to his constituency but the entire Igbos in general even as they also attributed his emergence as the APC choice for Deputy Speaker which they said is justified.
In his remarks at the visit, Comrade Ukatu said that they are proud of Hon. Kalu for his representations and numerous achievements in the Green Chamber.
The Association appreciated him for stepping in to quench the turbulence that loomed in Lagos after the elections, thus saving many lives.
While enquiring from Kalu the reason he decided to step down from the Speakership race as he was qualified for the position, the association however said it was ready to support whatever decision he takes.
In the meantime, the association thanked the All Progressives Congress (APC) for zoning the Office of the Deputy Speaker to the South East, and more importantly for making Hon. Ben Kalu their choice, saying that he has the competence, pedigree and capacity to deliver.
Ndigboamaka seized the opportunity to announce that they have officially made him the organisation’s Patron in Lagos State while reassuring him of their committed support at all times.
Responding, the lawmaker appreciated the group for coming all the way from Lagos to pay him a courtesy call, as he said, “The Office of the Deputy Speaker is one that will serve the entire SouthEast geo-political zone and not just my constituency, Bende or Abia state”.
“I will use my position as a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, if elected, to support your association and the entire SouthEast”.
He guaranteed them of his knowledge of the problems affecting the region and his commitment to proffering solutions to them.
Hon. Kalu added, “You people should not hesitate to let me know whatever you feel that I can do as a lawmaker, to bring success to the South East. I’m ready, with my Igbo colleagues, to partner with your organisation”, he concluded.
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