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Waterfronts Demolition In Port Harcourt: Matters Arising

By Ikenga Igbo

Some people are laughing today in our Port Harcourt City, the capital of our Rivers Statewhile others are wailing, following the demolition exercise ongoing in some swampy areas of the state christened Waterfronts. This was in a bid, according to Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, to rid the state of anomaly and restore it to its former Garden City status. This demolition didn't start at the waterfronts; a lot of people have lost or gained their own demolition in the metropolitan areas of the state, occasioned by the Master Plan the Ministry of Urban Development of the state is fighting hell to make sure it works. But one could not rest but ask what is so fascinating about the Garden from the Port Harcourt city?

Yes, if the Garden City means restoring the state to have a vegetation look, I don't subscribe to that, rather the people should be made to have greener pastures. We can see that the governor is planting flowers along Aba/PH road of the city beside dilapidated roads? (See Rumuola and weep). The grasses he is planting may be good, but the flowers he is planting, to me, betrays a governor as being shortsighted on this area, being one who is fighting assiduously to rid the state of poverty and hunger, himself having come form a humble home.

One of the Gardens the governor is making is beside Bori Camp of Amphibious Bridged: a typical example of a narrowed plan orchestrated to waste energy and money and time in a vast proportion of land. Sometimes I ask myself if the governor knows how many people would have benefited if he had planted cash crops of the mangos, peas, coconuts and all that, in lure of mere flowers and grasses that are fed with tap waters whereas many of us (human beings) in the Port Harcourt cityand its environs don't have even borehole waters around us, let alone pipe borne water.

I am not trying to criticize the governor here, but I am trying to put something straight, after all, have I not been a supporter of Amaechi, even when he left us (his supporters) here (in Nigeria) and ran to Ghana, during the heydays to reclaim his mandate in the court of the law? I think my governor is being misled by advisers in various issues than he is addressed. He is working in the state, no doubt to that, but such works are mainly BIG PROJECTS, whereas some MINOR PROJECTS that the grassroots people would benefit from are being neglected. Which 'poor' man can afford to pay for a house rant in the GRA if all we are bent to doing is to make Port Harcourtlook like Abuja? But we should not forget that the poor in Abuja, especially the “Gwari” owners of Abuja are made to have their own village of choice in Abuja. I don't think that everybody in the MODERN WORLD like modern cities, some people still like old things, and should not be forcefully made to enjoy what they didn't like. What will be the joy of the residents if they see skyscrapers around them and Gardens in our Port Harcourt city and they are swallowed by flood incessantly occasioned by the government's yet-to-be-worked drainages and gutters?

Flood is eating houses and property in the Port Harcourt city, but I am yet to see some of the Gardens being eaten by flood. Is it because the Gardens are owned by the government? Do we prefer Gardens than human beings? Do we prepare attracting praises from all the walks of life that we are doing greatly in our state whereas sanitation caring is poor? Have we started using the completed schools been completed and being built in our state? What about the healths centres or are they hospitals? Say we are building Ring Roads yet traffic-jams now are un-chronicled! Yes, Amaechi is trying but what about his lame-duck Local Government Chairmen? A tour to virtually all the 23 Local Government Areas in the state will tell a first timer that what we are yet having is a newspaper development. Yes, Amaechi is trying, at least, he is being surrounded by Local Government Chairmen whose best hobby is to buy the best state-of-the-art cars to themselves, their Councilors, their wards, including concubines and measure with mogul in the society who owns the most expensive and expansive houses in the world, without actively touching the lives of the lacals Yes, Amaechi is trying!

However, I am yet researching why anyone could threaten the life of the Rivers State Commissionerfor Urban Development, Barrister Osima Ginah, since the planned waterfront demolition exercise within the ambit of the law to implement a stellar blue print for urban development in the state is going-on?

Though, reportedly, Ginah has vowed that the incessant death threats to his life will not deter him. He said, " I am ready to die for Rivers State if need be and no amount of threat on my life or any obstacle or intimidation in any form will deter me from carrying out my legal task both as a Commissioner of Rivers State Governmentor as a son of the State. Let me reiterate that if restoring the city of Port Harcourt back to its Garden City statusand pursuing a design that will free the city of every criminal tendency and make it one of the revered cities in Nigeria will cost me my life, then I am ready to lay it down if that will actualize the dream of making Rivers State the state of our dream. As a Christian, I know that God made my appointment to serve in this administration possible, I would not rest on my oars as long as I have this confidence. In addition the Governor's support has served to make all these challenges worthwhile as we all joined hands to move the state to the next level”.

Yes, that is a good promise from Ginah; we need development. But how much sum have we been investing in the development of the structures in the state and how much sum have been invested in human capital? There is great disparity! I think people are poor, and those living in the shanties, was it good for them that they didn't looked for accommodation in the GRAs and all other finer places in the city before they preferred the shanty? The government might be paying compensation to the demolished waterfronts buildings, but the compensation, is to who and to whom? Is the compensation to the yet-to-be-known landlords or is it the tenants, as Okrika and Ikwerre are in dragnets of the real owners of the waterfronts? No wonder wherever there is something to share you see people segregating. For example the Ikwerre is not Igbo, or Igbo is not Ikwerre we have been hearing about.

Ginah may have told the people of the state that people are threatening his life, but before the elders of the Rivers State Action Congress, led by its Chairman, Chief Allen Opunjiakor, who paid him a courtesy visit in his Port Harcourt residence, Ginah dismissed the alleged death threats, describing them as unnecessary distractions.

Notwithstanding, as a keen observer of the state politics, I might take oath that the allegation that Ginah's ministry is being used as a witch-hunting tool against real or perceived enemies of government, is the imagination of the proponent (s). The government urban development initiatives, including the waterfront demolition exercise are well thought out plans geared towards creating an enabling environment for commerce, where human and capital development will thrive successfully.

We know that, but my prayer is that our people are suffering much with less development in the area of empowerment.

Ikenga Igbo writes from Orumba, Anambra State.

Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com