Onitsha Shall Rise Again, Gov Soludo Vows

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The Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuma Soludo, has lamented the state of affairs in Onitsha, a notable commercial city in the state, saying that it is “dead”.

Soludo made this known after his visit to the commercial hub of the South-East on Thursday which was posted on his official social media page.

“Every visit to Onitsha leaves one with interesting insights. Some good, and some others bad. As a melting pot of Igbo commercial ingenuity, Onitsha is strategic, not just to Ndị Anambra, but also to Ndị Igbo. Sadly, our dear Onitsha is dead!

“Killed by the twin evil of social recklessness and laxity in law enforcement. Like the carcass in Ezekiel’s prophecy, I believe these “dry bones shall rise again”. For this to happen though, I held an interactive session today with Landlords in Onitsha – inland town and adjoining conurbations,” he wrote.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, however, expressed hopes for the commercial revitalisation of the area stating that Onitsha was not beyond saving.

“A lot was said, and my team and I took copious notes. However, the exciting takeaway from today’s meeting is that the people are hopeful and willing to become progressive partners in the arduous task of resurrecting Onitsha.

“Truth is, the ‘nwa otu’ Spirit of Onitsha is undying. And this same spirit resonates in the homegrown solutions that were debated in the hall today.

“There is new Onitsha sprouting along the banks of Nkisi and spreading into Akpaka and Nkwele. However chaotic this evolving Onitsha appears, it feels more like an important vital sign that gives credence to the fact that Onitsha isn’t beyond redemption. Onitsha shall resurrect!” Soludo added.

Soludo, also said that gunmen and those armed with sophisticated weapons terrorising the people are not agitators but criminals who have seen crime as a lucrative business.

In an interactive session with landlords in Onitsha on Thursday, Soludo expressed deep concern that despite the extension of invitation by the state government to the gunmen to come out of their hiding and embrace dialogue, the criminals continued in their activities of killing, kidnapping and destruction because they saw criminality as a lucrative business.

He said the gunmen had continued in their illicit activities because the landlords and other critical stakeholders in the state had failed to expose them.

The governor pointed out that the session was called to interact and interface with the stakeholders with a view to proffering solutions to the challenges such as illegal structures, blockage of drainages, refuse dumps, traffic congestion, among others, bedevilling the state.

He noted that the major programmes of his administration at present included cleaning up of the state, security of lives and property and provision of critical infrastructure like roads.

He said, “With last Tuesday’s expiration of a two-week deadline given to those whose houses or shops were built on drainages, water channels and major roads to remove such structures, the government would commence the demolition of those houses any moment from now at the expense of the landlords.

“Criminals kidnapping people for ransom, killings and destruction are not agitating but engaging in lucrative criminality. We know where these criminals are.

“It is better for them to repent, drop their arms and come for empowerment or else, we will come after them and when we come, no house, bush or forest inhabited by them will be spared.

“You cannot force people to stay at home without going to their various places of business, force our children not to go to school and call it agitation. It is not agitation, but a criminal activity and very soon, all those will be addressed.

“The task forces for the enforcement of traffic offences and stoppage of all forms of criminal activities will be established.

“A bill for the enactment of law to punish landlords, contractors and government officials who approved lands on top of drainages, certified payments for contracts not yet completed or completed without specifications, would soon be sent to the state House of Assembly for legislation.”

A state lawmaker representing Onitsha North II Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Edward Ibuzo, said he was fully in support of Soludo’s planned demolition of 200 houses blocking drainages in Onitsha and environs, adding that it is an offence for someone to build on drainages, thus causing blockage of water channels.

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