Disappointment, Slow Process, As ‘Ounje Eko’ Food Markets Takes Off In Lagos

Kunle Adelabu

-There will be improvement in subsequent editions – Lekan Oba

Volunteers with some of the residents at the Zumratul Islammiyyah Grammar School, Igbogbo venue of the ‘Ounje Eko’ Food Market.

It was a slow and disappointing beginning across the Ikorodu Division, as the ‘Ounje Eko’ Food Discount Markets, an initiative of the Lagos State Government, which is designed to provide discounted food items for residents as part of the palliative measures announced by the government to reduce economic hardship in the country, kicked – off on Sunday.

Many residents that attended the Zumratul Islammiyyah Grammar School, which served as the venue of the market in Igbogbo/Bayeku Local Council Development Area and the Ikorodu Grammar School, Oke Ota – Ona, Ikorodu, the venue for Ikorodu Local Government, where our reporter covered, expressed their disappointment over the failure of the organisers to make available certain food items that were in high demand.

They also complained about the stress faced in obtaining vouchers to purchase items, a major factor that constituted difficulties which hindered the smooth running of the initiative on Sunday.

It was also gathered the same situation affected the markets in Ikorodu West LCDA, lkorodu North LCDA and other areas.

Although, most of the markets opened at 11:00am which was the stipulated time for commencement, but it was only bread, eggs, onion and pepper (tatase, rodo and tomato) that were available for purchase. It was hours later that rice, beans and garri arrived.

It was also discovered after some of the residents insisted on weighing the 5kg rice at the Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA centre, as they claimed that it was actually 4.4kg or 4kg, a situation which was not only disappointing for buyers, but also made them lack trust in the whole process.

Some of the residents also complained about the garri supplied at the market.

Comrade Lekan Biliamin Oba, Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), and a member of the Lagos State Special Dispensation ‘Palliative’ Advisory Committee supervising the processing of obtaining vouchers at the Zumratul Islammiyyah Grammar School, Igbogbo. With him, Hammed Olalekan Aroyewun, Chairmanship aspirant, Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA, who also visited the market.

At the Ikorodu Grammar School, where the sales of vouchers started very late, and couple with non – availability of food items that the residents actually came for, some of them took their anger out on our reporter who was told not to point his camera in their direction.

The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ikorodu Police Divisional Headquarters, arrived at the Grammar School with some of his men at 11: 53am. Before his arrival, adequate security personnel comprising of policemen, Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps (LNSC) led by its Divisional Commandant, Mr Ibrahim Sanni and the Ikorodu Local Government Local Security team, were on the ground. There was also adequate security personnel on ground at the Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA centre too.

Mrs Otenaike, a septuagenarian and a community leader in Igbogbo, expressing her reservations at the whole arrangement, said that:

“The situation is not properly arranged. The vendors ought to have been given booklet of vouchers. It is the number of vouchers issued by the vendors that would be used in collecting their discounts after the business of the day”, she said.

“If that’s the arrangement, the available bread, pepper and other items would have been bought by the residents. Unfortunately, it is after 4pm and they are still having issues with the vouchers.

“You can see a crowd of people that have not been attended to, because of the challenges with the payment system”, she added.

Aside suggesting that vouchers should be provided for the vendors to sell directly, Mrs Otenaike also said that government can also make available POS machines to the vendors for payments and accountability.

Pepper vendors at the Zumratul Grammar School, Igbogbo

“The government should be able to get enough POS machines to be given to these vendors to sell their items. The situation as it is now is not helpful to the vendors or the people that the market is organized for”, she said.

“Some of the items like garri and rice were also brought in late and they were not bagged or properly measured. They only brought in scale after I protested that the bagged food items must be measured”, she complained.

Another resident of Igbogbo, Pastor Olatunbosun Atoro, also complained about the payment system and called for more payment points.

“The market is peaceful, but Lagosians are discouraged because of the way it is programmed”, he said.

“The way it is programmed made many people unable to get their vouchers, and at the end discouraged. The vendors too are not happy because they are unable to sell their items. Some of these items are perishable and this can lead to loss.

“I will suggest that the government should provide more payment points instead of one”, he said.

Mr Adesanya, who left The Ikorodu Grammar School venue of the market with his wife disappointingly complained about the lack of the government to make yam, indomie, rice and other commodities available.

“This is sheer waste of time. We are expecting to come here and get items like yam, rice, beans and also indomie for our children at discounted rate, unfortunately, there are only egg, bread and pepper. What do they expect us to do with that”, he asked disappointingly.  

Point of selling rice at the Zumratul Islammiyyah Grammar School, igbogbo

 Mr Adebowale Adebiyi, Managing Director, COSMOS Bakery, Igbogbo, who also spoke with THE IMPACT, commended the ‘Ounje Eko’ Food Markets initiative, while also pointing out the payment system as the only challenge at the kick off of the market.

“As good as this initiative is, we just have challenges with the payment system. May be because it is the first edition and like every laudable scheme that were well thought out and planned for, there is always challenges at the kick off”, the baker said.

“You can see that people turned out en masse to benefit from the discount. For instance, the bread that we are selling for N1200 is being sold for N750 here. People wanted to buy bread and other food stuffs, but the process of obtaining the vouchers to make purchase from the vendors is somehow cumbersome”.

The COSMOS Bread MD, suggesting way out, also said that government should allow the vendors to sell directly to the people through vouchers and POS machines and reconcile at the end of the market activities.

“I will suggest two ways out of this challenge. If every vendor could be given a voucher booklet which will be authorized adequately with counterfoil, with this, they can sell directly to residents on the agreed prices and at the end of the day, reconcile with the government officials. That would solve this problem”, he said.

“Secondly, they could provide us with our own POS machine and use the machine which would have been configured based on the vendors’ government’s arrangement, to get payment from the residents. This is another way out”.

Long queue at the Ikorodu Grammar School centre trying to registered

Comrade Lekan Biliamin Oba, Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), and a member of the Lagos State Special Dispensation ‘Palliative’ Advisory Committee, who monitored five markets in Ikorodu Division except that of Imota LCDA, said that they have been receiving feedbacks from various volunteers and platforms, adding that complaints would be critically looked into.

Oba, who spoke to THE IMPACT at the Zumratul Islamiyyah Grammar School, lgbogbo, where he had to intervened in resolving many protests, also said that he also observed some challenges on his own, which, according to him, are going to be addressed to have better outing subsequently.

“We have feedback channels from our youth volunteers through which we have been getting information”, he said.

“I have also been to different locations today (Sunday). My observation is that this is a pilot test edition, and when you are just starting anything good, such must go through corrections and additions.

“So, what you are seeing today is a pilot test which gives rooms for improvement and corrections of some of the observations that we have noticed”, Oba said.

The youth leader, who also informed our reporter that multiple payment platforms was approved at each center by Mr Governor, emphasized that the issue will be a major one and would be needing serious attention.

“The approval wasn’t to have one payment platform but multiple platforms across the centres. I think that other payment platforms didn’t turn up today, because this is a pilot scheme. We all are also aware of what is going on with network and connectivity generally in the country”, he said.

Residents claiming food items purchased after obtaining vouchers

” We know that the internet connection is very bad but that is not an excuse because government responsibilities are to make lives better for the people and create an enabling environment.

“There is no location that has not raised issues about their payment point which means that this would be top on the agenda that would be presented because we actually need to find a way round it”, he said.

“What is important is that the government has good intentions to make life easier for the people. Part of what I observed is that we need multiple payment platforms. This would be communicated to the appropriate quarters”, Oba emphasized.

“I am very sure and certain that this and other observations would be corrected in the subsequent editions.

“Before the end of tomorrow (Monday), we would get all the feedbacks and reports for presentation to the appropriate quarters for necessary actions”.

He also pledged to bring the attention of the appropriate authority to the demand for more food items to be provided.

“Basically, the items available have been publicized days back but from what I gathered from you, it is clear that residents are asking for yam, indomie and other items, that would also be presented for considerations. The government of Mr Babajide Sanwo – Olu is a listening one. It is a government about the people and a government that understands that the economic hardship is real and it’s doing everything within its reach to make lives easier for Lagosians”, he said.

A government official addressing the crowd at the Igbogbo centre before the commencement of the sales on Sunday.

“Lagosians should be rest assured that in the subsequent operations of the markets, there would be a lot of improvements, changes and a whole lot of benefits would be derived”.

Builder Adeola Banjo, chairman, Ikorodu North LCDA with volunteers and others during his visit to the ‘Ounje Eko’ Food Discount Market in Ikorodu.
Volunteers for the ‘Ounje Eko’ Food Discount Market at the Zumratul Islammiyyah Grammar School, Igbogbo

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