By Alogoakho Kuju & Eric Kuju
On the 16th February, 2021, the people of Barkin Abdullahi (B.A.D.) were of high hoe that the Emir of Lafia, who is also the Chairman, Nasarawa State Traditional Council of Chiefs, Honourable Justice Sidi Mohammed Bage 1 (JSC Retired), accompanied by the Sarkin Kwandere, Alhaji Ahmadu Al-Makura, the Chairman of Lafia Local Government Council represented by the Council Secretary and the Overseer, Lafia North Development Area, Hon Suleiman Agyo were going to commission the new market which has been relocated to a more spacious place.
However, their hope was dashed as the commissioning did not take place after all.
The commissioning of the market was to coincide with the tour of duty by the Emir which he embarked on to the Koro Kuje Chiefdom.
At the venue of the ceremony, which was an open space opposite the market, the
Overseer of Lafia North Development Area, Hon Suleiman Agyo had cause to explain that the issue of market entails so many factors, one of which is sustained peace.
He said further: “The issues of the old and new market are within the purview of the authority of the Government. The Government will take a look at the matter and due process would be followed to ensure the proper thing is done.
“His Highness together with the Sarkin Kwandere have put their heads together and are assuring that the Government will take the necessary action to sort out things for the market to run seamlessly.
I therefore call on the people of B.A.D. to stay in peace. You have no other town to stay in and be proud of than B.A.D. it is peace that will bring development to the area.
“His Majesty has promised to take your message concerning the road to the Government. If there is no peace, there is no how the road will be constructed.
Therefore, as I said, the market issue will be considered by the Government.”
Meanwhile, some people in Barkin Abdulahi separately spoke with Eggonnews concerning the market, giving some historical background of the market thus:
Mallam Usman Idrisu, is the Sarkin Kasuwan B.A.D, that is, the head of the market.
He said that during the lockdown because Covid 19, the market was closed. It was still at the old place. He averred that the old location was rather too small a space for people.
He continued: “Then our royal father, Chief Sunday Namo who is a good listener, listened to his children and set up a committee and the committee worked very well for the actualization of the movement. He Committee was able to identify a place for the new site of the market.
“This new site has vast land. The people that come are here are many. And we try to see we observe COVID-19 protocol. We have large land here.
“The quantity of goods and the number of people really reduced due to COVID-19 lockdown. But now that there is no lockdown, we believe with time the quantity of good will increase.
“We are pleading on the State government to look at the issue of road for us. Because people from all works of life do come to this market”.
Also speaking, Alhaji Yahaya Abdullahi Dan-Galadima B.A.D. said: “this market you are seeing is the third one. The first one was beside rail-line. It was Ubangarin Lafia by name Musa that started or opened the market. It was called market of Audu Maiabi. The market used to be Sunday to Sunday. Then Ubangari Musa died.
“After him, Ubangari Abdullahi took over and he also later died. Then Ubangari Ahmadu took over then he too died. Then Magaji Abubakar took over.
“The Christians then wrote a complaint letter to the then Emir of Lafia for the market day to be changed from Sunday to Tuesday.
“Then the Emir accepted for the market to be Tuesday. That is how we started Tuesday market.
“The Igbo people also complained to the Emir of Lafia for the market venue to be changed to railway station, so that they will find it easy to convey their goods. Then the venue was changed to where we moved to this present place.
“This place was selected to be market for long but COVID-19 that hastened the movement.
“Our royal father, Chief Sunday Namo observed that due to the size of the former place, people were not observing the protocol of COVID-19. Then he set up committee to facilitate the movement of people from the former place to this place.
“The committee was headed by Surveyor Emmanuel Ibi. I am one of the members of the committee. That is how we moved to this place. As you can see, the people are happy doing their businesses. This market, I believe, will be one of the best in this State. It is just the matter of time.”
Surveyor Emmanuel Ibi. former Surveyor General of Nasarawa State who served as Surveyor General for nearly twenty years before his retirement also spoke on the issue of the market where he said:
“Just like my father mentioned this market has been established for more than forty-four years. Thank God the chief of Koron Kuje Sunday set up committee head by me. We came and investigated all the issues here.
“You can see from the old market. If I tell you the size of that place you will be surprised. Is not more than two plots 100×50.
“That place was congested. Apart from the erosion, the sandy area, no road, nothing. So, with the explosion of the population the chief saw it necessary also with the people pressuring him to move the market to where we are today.
“This site we are today it will also surprise you that it is a hundred plots of 100×50 you cannot compare it with that one. I am saying it is more than five hectares.
“We have planned this one that is why you are seeing it fairly more organized than the previous one”.
Issue of COVID-19. No market. Let us tell ourselves the truth. It is difficult to control people in this area. But you discovered that what has been happening in the village here people knew about COVID-19. They are also fearing and so very few people used to come to the market. Particularly in the old market where we moved from that place to this place. But you can see from here even-though the COVID-19 is still persistent. We are even hearing there is going to be third lockdown. You can see people are going about their businesses without observing some precaution. I have my own in the pocket. It is because I want to attend to you people that I removed it.
So, they are not observing the issue of COVID-19 properly. But I believe the people taking care of the market will educate them properly.
But you can see the market is going on very well. We just pray that we will get more people. You can see extra land is left here sooner or later we will allocate it to other people also. We have issue with the local government which I believe it will soon be sorted out.
The market has rising the status of our chief. Because if you compare with other chiefdoms within this zone, there is none that has done this. Most especially during the visit of Emir of Lafia. He saw a lot of population here. It was a surprising thing for him too.
“I think that alone has challenged other chiefdoms within this zone to come and learn from our chief on what has happened here, maybe they can also copy it in their own domain. That is a very important thing we did and we are very happy about it.
“We also pleading on the state government to construct road for us. Because people from far east and far north do come to this market. For that if government will look at the issue of road for us. The market will be one of the best in the State and with time it will compete with other big markets in the country.”
All said and done, while awaiting the official commissioning of the new market, Eggonnews paid several visits to the town on Tuesdays and observed that the market is running at the new site as people from far and near troop there to buy or sell goods.
It has also been observed that the market is fast returning to its size prior to the crisis that rocked the area in 2013 – 2014 which shattered the socio-economic life of the area.
The people have since picked the pieces of their lives and the socio-economic life is fast returning, hence the market needs a new and bigger space to accommodate the increasing number of traders who patronise the market every Tuesday.