By Phil Okose, Onitsha
There has been accusations and counter accusations among members of Onitsha Newspaper Distributors Directors Association, ONDDA led by Elder Emmanuel Uwakwe, since a rival group, Onitsha Vendors Union, (OVU) headed by Chief Christian Ikpeh, pulled out from ONDDA about two weeks ego.
Addressing newsmen on why OVU broke away from ONDDA, the chairman of OVU, Ikpeh said that it was to restore the lost glory of the organisation since the incumbent chairman of ONDDA, Elder Emmanuel Uwakwe was not able to restore it.
“Instead of progressing, the Uwakwe leadership is retrogressing; no achievement since he came on board. The leadership sold off all properties we were able to acquire in my administration as former chairman of ONDDA. They included a bus which we used for commercial purposes, generator, flat TV and musical sets with decoder, among others”.
Ikpeh who revealed that OVU had been in existence in Onitsha prior to going into oblivion, reiterated that, “the reason for this division is for Onitsha to improve on the sale of newspapers and other periodicals consigned to Onitsha and environs, to change the poor leadership which gives Onitsha bad image”.
“Again, front liners of OVU will help sales representatives and executives to checkmate the alarming increase of debt in Onitsha,” he added further.
Among the executive of the new OVU were, Christian Ikpeh as chairman, Ignatius Ihuoma as vice chairman, Gloria Emekpo, secretary and Christian Okafor as financial secretary. Others were Linus Obisi [treasurer 1], Mrs. R. A. Ihuoma [treasurer 2], Joy Orah [public relations officer] and Queen Onwuje, the welfare officer.
In a swift reaction, the ONDDA chairman, Elder Uwakwe, addressing newsmen, accused Ikpeh and his members of being power-hungry hinting that ONDDA was registered with Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN and had no crisis as alleged.
“It is Ikpeh and his loyalists that call themselves the ‘Noble 10’ that were in charge of magazines in Onitsha but publishers of magazines have stopped supplying to Onitsha because they are being owed by the distributors.”
“Today, you cannot find any magazine in Onitsha newsstands because those in charge of distribution like Tell, Insider, Source, Ovation, Trend, Hint, Encomium, among others, are owing the publishers”
He admitted the sale of the properties but added that they were sold based on the agreement reached during the general meeting as they were no longer relevant, adding “some of them were sold when Ikpeh was the chairman and also when late Jude Oguzie was chairman”.
He disclosed further that OVU members were indebted to ONDDA on account of diversion of ONDDA money warning that “their breakaway will not save them from producing the money.”