Emeka Nwosu says reclaiming Ogbumabiri from land speculators is an imperative as it’s now a blight on Umuahia City Centre.

Since the emergence of Dr. Alex Otti as the popularly elected Governor of Abia three months ago, the State, undoubtedly, is witnessing a new lease of life, and indeed a breath of fresh air. The signs that are emerging in the badly mismanaged State are very encouraging. We are seeing a government that is being deliberate and methodical in redefining the parameters of governance in a State that has suffered so much retrogression in the last twenty four years of PDP`s gross misrule.

With the arrival of the new Sherriff in town, it is no longer business as usual. The people of Abia are seeing for the first time in a long while an organized administration that is anchored on due process and transparency; and not arbitrary governance that is based on the rule of the thumb. From available records within the public domain, Dr. Otti came prepared for the job.

In a recent disclosure by the Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Kazie Uko, the Otti administration has come up with a well thought-out and workable blueprint for the comprehensive development of the State. Particularly exciting is the deliberate plan to rejuvenate Aba, the Enyimba city, and bring it back to life. To this end, a Bill for the establishment of Aba Rejuvenation Authority (ARA) has been finalized and ready to be sent to the House of Assembly upon resumption from its current recess to be enacted into law.

When the ARA comes on board, it will be saddled with the onerous responsibility of rebuilding Aba and reclaiming its lost glory. This is dear to the heart of the Governor who has shown the determination to re-jig Aba using the best constructions giants available. It is against this background that Julius Berger Construction Company is expected in the coming weeks to commence work on the abandoned strategic Port Harcourt Road in Aba.

While Otti is working hard to retrieve Aba from the doldrums, he is also not leaving out the State Capital, Umuahia in the lurch. As at press time, the bulldozers are expected to move into the Abia Tower end of the approach road to the city to commence the expansion of the road into six lanes. We understand that the Government has concluded discussions on compensation plans with the affected communities of Ossah and Isingwu whose lands are involved in the project. The properties that are going to be affected have been enumerated by the relevant government agencies. In my discussions last week with the newly appointed General Manager of Umuahia Capital Development Authority (UCDA), Mr. Kingsley Agomoh, he assured that the demolition of affected structures would commence in a fortnight. When the road is finally put in place, it will accord Umuahia a befitting status as a State capital and enhances its aesthetic beauty. That will mark a radical departure from its present provincial outlook.

This now brings me to the issue of the Ogwumabiri Umuahia which was relocated to Ubani Ibeku along Uzuakoli-Ohafia road. The Ogwumabiri is the old Umuahia Main Market which was situated at the heart of the town. Given the perennial traffic and human congestions that it used to cause, the market was justifiably relocated by former Governor Theodore Orji to make for free and unimpeded movement. That decision was well applauded by all well-meaning Abia people who for a very long time endured the pains and stress arising from the choking congestions induced by the location of the Ogwumabiri.

With the relocation of the Ogwumabiri, the people and residents of Umuahia heaved a sigh of relief and nursed expectations that the vacated premises would be turned into a befitting recreational centre or modern shopping malls where family members and visiting guests could go for social recreation and sight-seeing. To the utmost disappointment of the people of Abia State, the choice land was carved out and shared amongst the officials of the Ochendo administration. A part of the land was converted into a personal housing estate while the remaining portion has been turned into a ground for hosting religious crusades and political rallies.

This is unacceptable!

The beautiful plan of Governor Otti to turn the Abia State capital around would be grossly distorted if the Ogwumabiri is not reclaimed and put into a better public use. We cannot have a six-lane boulevard that runs from Abia Tower into the city and ends up in front of the abandoned Ogwumabiri. Governor Alex Otti has a responsibility to review the situation of the Ogwumabiri and recover the place in public interest. The existing structures in the Ogwumabiri should be demolished, including the uncompleted housing estate which has become a den of criminals.

When this is done, the Governor, in consultation with his Cabinet and other critical stakeholders in the State, should consider erecting more befitting and modern facilities in the place that would serve best public interest. The Ogwumabiri as it is today a blight in the city centre and should not be allowed to continue. The earlier the place is retrieved and reconfigured, the better for our State.

Emeka Nwosu

Emeka Nwosu, PhD, is the President of Old Bende Development Association (OBDA), He writes from Abuja.

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