By Izunna Okafor
In keeping of his promise, the newly-sworn-in Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chukwuma Soludo, today, Friday, visited Okpoko near Onitsha, in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state, where he had earlier promised to start work when sworn-in.
Soludo, who also reiterated the promise yesterday during his inaugural address in Awka, visited the community alongside his Deputy, Dr. Onyekachi Ibezim and other entourage, to access the economic condition of the area.
It was reported that ahead of the visit, street sweepers who had, for some days now, abandoned their duty, were seen clearing the roads and drainages in Upper Iweka and Okpoko environs. However, the mountainous heaps of refuse, which adorned major roads in the area, could not be hidden from the governor as he expressed deep worry on sighting them.
It was also reported that traders, who used to display their wares on major roads, thereby causing gridlock around the area, removed their wares and the roads became clear for the smooth passage of the governor’s convoy and those of his entourage.
Governor, who was visibly unhappy with the level of decadence in the area, promised to sanitise, even as he also assured that works would immediately begin in the area.
While noting that clarification became necessary after he received several questions on the rationale behind his choice of Okpoko as the first place to start work; the former CBN Governor revealed that since the area had been accepted as the weakest link and the most densely populated area in the state, he had no option, but to begin his administration’s projects there.
He further noted that the area currently needed more government attention than any part of the state.
The Governor, who spoke to the residents and leaders of the community at the St. Lwanga Catholic Church, Okpoko, after visiting other areas, spoke in Igbo language.
He said “Ụmụnne m, ihe dị n’Okpoko —the genius, the unemployed and the criminal. The challenge before us is to decide whether to continue ruing the ugly situation or turn the flipside that will provide us enormous opportunities for the development of our Homeland.
“Okpoko is the largest Urban slum in Anambra State. Therefore, we have to begin our urban renewal effort from our weakest link. Like my now 16-year-old daughter once asked me when she was just 14: “It is not enough to wish change or show the will to cause a change. How are you sure, Daddy, that the people themselves want to change?”
“Of course, this is not so easy a question to be answered without far-reaching consultation with the people. So far, the people of Okpoko and residents, from Ndikpa to East Niger, are more in a hurry for a change than we can ever be.
“That trip I made in 2009 to Okpoko where I was accosted by a little boy, who raced towards me and audaciously demanded, “Soludo nye m ego” still occupies a better part of my memory. That boy and millions like him needs much more than money. They need a life. May God help us!”
The Governor, while tasking the people to remain responsible citizens by paying their taxes and engaging in other civic duties, the governor states categorically, that the issue of touts and illegal collection of levies and taxes has come to an end in Anambra State.
He also visited Soludo after touring Okpoko stormed Onitsha, visiting Ngene Canal, Creek road, Fegge, Bida Road and Main Market where he addressed the residents and traders and also read riot act for touts and developers blocking the drainage system.