THE TIME HAS COME TO RE-CONSTRUCT ONITSHA
Gov. Peter Obi should set up technical Committee to re-make diminishing Onitsha Onitsha the most important commercial center in eastern Nigeria is in shambles and needs immediate attention. Governor Peter Obi and his administration must now listen to a voice of reason and logic without being defensive. This is not time to verbalize any constructive advice as an opposition and as a voice of acrimony to the administration. After all a descending voice and constructive criticism cannot be easily discarded but must be weighed for its worth.
The influential sociological–commercial integrity of Onitsha that is fast diminishing must be revived with re-construction, refurbishment and environmental face-lift. The famous Upper Iweka Road in Onitsha has been branded, “Anambra crime headquarters,” in a write-up published in Daily Sun and The Nigeria http://thenigeria.com/. In the article the writer, Aloysius Attah gave a mind-bending description on how robbers, kidnappers, lawlessness, and pure evil ‘reigns’ in a back drop of filthy and refuse overflowing environment.
Onitsha is too important to Ndiigbo and Nigeria to be left to go down in the dustbin of decay and rottenness that characterized a failed urban township in the 21st century. Onitsha has given a lot to Anambra state including the birthplace of the first Nigerian President Rt. Honorable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Louis Mbanefo and many others. Onitsha gave us Main Market, the largest open trading center in West Africa. But today’s Main market is unkempt – a health hazard without indoor plumbing and running water. How can this be possible when the Governor Obi did promise that he will make the development of Onitsha the hallmark of his administration?
Governor Peter Obi should set up a committee of technocrats and technical advisers on Onitsha because it is quickly becoming a lost town - dirty and unkempt, mesmerized with refuse, debris, pot holes, and penetrating darkness at night. It is essential that the state of Onitsha must be improved not just for sake of reviving the commercial integrity of Onitsha but also for health benefits that comes with clean ambience and healthy environment. The proposed technical committee must consist of experts, technicians, traders and stakeholders. They will be given assignment to come up with solutions, remedies and methodology to improve and reconstruct Onitsha. This is not time to prattle about Governor Obi’s Anambra State Integrated Development Services (ANDIS) for it has become self-evident that it is not working for Onitsha.
To technically and scientifically measure the correlation between ANDIS and its presence in Onitsha, the result will almost end up in zero percentiles. Therefore let not waste our time to debate whether the administration blue print ANDIS for development is working for Onitsha. For inspite of noise making about ANDIS, its presence in Onitsha remains a mirage. Onitsha is still the dirtiest major township in eastern Nigeria without running water, traffic lights, refuse recycling center to mention but few. Onitsha has deteriorated to its nadir level that Onitsha of 1970s and early 1980s were much better and appealing than Peter Obi’s Onitsha of 2011. It sounds incredible but it is the bitter truth. That past decades of 70s and 80s was Onitsha that had running tap water managed by Water Works and gutters/ditches were not clogged with solid waste and debris. The generated refuse and trash were safely hauled from residential homes to landfills at stipulated intervals in the yesteryears of those decades. Many of Onitsha residents which are mostly traders and business men may be politically powerless and may find the system cumbersome and time consuming to be leverage for development. That does not mean that they are not observant and recognized quite well that the health and wellbeing of their town is nothing to write home about.
The political actors and elected politicians in the state took Onitsha residents lack of political involvement as their acquiescence to the status quo. But if the truth is to be tell the people have been disengaged from the polity because it is not working for them rather they go about doing their trading nonchalantly without attracting necessary attention to themselves and their families. What does Onitsha really needs? Onitsha needs environmental facelift and to be launched into 21st century with modern amenities and infrastructures including:
1.Running tap water to replace ubiquitous water boreholes
2.Waste water treatment plant to process sanitary wastes into manures
3.Modern landfill to contain discarded materials, refuse and solid waste
4.Recycling centre where refuse are separated for further use in production and those materials that cannot be recycled transported to landfill
5.The reconstruction of Main Market to assume the trading center of 21st century 6.The re-dredging of Otumoye/NwangeneCreek to lessen the effects of flooding disaster at Fegge, Oboko and surrounding sub-municipalities. The continuous inspection and monitor of the storm water ditches to discourage mosquitoes inhabitation and subsequently malaria.
7.The re-building of electric infrastructure and provision of electricity at a limited capacity. It is quite understandable that the state government does not have the prime control of electric energy generation and distribution. The responsibility lies with federal government but that does not imply that the state government or Anambra state for that matter cannot contribute to the improvement of the process. Anambra state can start by acquiring solar panels to provide street lights. It was a good move on behalf of Anambra state on the visit the Governor Peter Obi paid to the Minister of Power Professor Nnaji. It must not be just a courtesy visit for photo opportunity but a visit that the governor should equipped with a detailed proposal on improving electricity deliverance that he should present to the minister.
The time has come to do justice to Onitsha and its residents by transforming it to a place worthy of its historical significance and it’s continue importance as the commercial nerve center of Anambra state.
Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. [email protected]