By Mustapha Usman, Kano
The chairman of Sabon-Gari market traders association, Ali Bagadaza, has dismissed comment made by an APC chieftain, Abdulmajid Kwamanda, that the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, had presented a cheque of N500 million to the market’s fire victims.
Mr Kwamanda, in a live political programme on radio, had alleged that he was present when the governor presented the N500 million cheque to the market union chairman, a situation that sparked peaceful protest in the market.
In early 2016, a fire outbreak at the Sabon-Gari market razed down over five thousand shops, which made Mr Ganduje to pledge an assistance to the victims.
However, it took the governor some months before raising a high-profile committee, headed by the Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, with a view to assisting the fire victims.
In December 2016, Mr Ganduje also announced the donation of N500 million to the market fire victims at the signing of an agreement between the state government and an indigenous company, Brain and Hammers Limited, for the construction of the Kanawa Economic City.
In a telephone interview with DAILY NIGERIAN correspondent on Wednesday, Mr Bagadaza wondered why Mr Kwamanda as an experienced businessman should made such a comment capable of breaching peace at the market.
He said as a chairman of the market, he had never collected a cheque from anybody in the name of donation for the fire incident in the market.
He added that Mr Kwamanda lied to Mr Ganduje and his administration.
Mr Bagadaza further said that since December last year when Mr Ganduje announced the donation of the said money to be channeled through the Commissioner of Finance, they were yet to receive a penny from the commissioner.
“Since this fire incident, we have not received a penny in the name of assistance from anybody. What Dan-Bilki said is a sheer lie. I wonder why he made this lie as a businessperson. Therefore we strongly condemn his comments and he lied to Ganduje and his government.
“Even Bashir Tofa has sympathized with us and said he would meet the governor on the matter but up till now, even the finance commissioner has not intimated us on the development.
“I want to draw the attention of the government on the plight of the victims of the inferno. We are owing a lot of money which we borrowed to reconstruct the market. By hearing Dan-Bilki’s comment, those that we owe money besieged the market and asked for their money, until we explained everything to them.
“Our people are suffering and some even have lost their capital virtually forever. We appeal to the government to expedite action in realising the fund,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Mr Kwamanda, who neither denied nor confirmed the allegation, told our reporter on telephone that he was just back from a trip.
“I am just arriving at airport from a trip. I am currently in the plane as it is about to stop,” he said and ended the call.