Anambra Dreams Big for Christmas

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The Anambra State government has declared what could be termed the mass return of most of its indigenes living in the Diaspora. The state government is not leaving any stone unturned in the quest to impress the returning indigenes, David-Chyddy Eleke writes

In few days, it will be Christmas. Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano in a bid to give the indigenes of the state the very best this yuletide has swung to action. The governor had earlier promised the completion of all construction works in the state at the end of the rainy season, and it is only coincidental that rainy seasons stop at the close of the year, which also ushers in the yuletide.

With the end of the rains, Obiano has commenced work in about 20 major roads in the state. This is in fulfillment of his promise to indigenes of the state that his government would commence massive construction of roads at the end of the rainy season. Speaking at the flag off of the roads, Obiano said contractors have been mobilised back to sites to commence immediate works on the over 20 major roads in the state, in keeping with his promise. Some of the roads being constructed in the South senatorial zone include; Ekwulobia-Ezinifite Road, Ezira-Umuomaku-Umunofia-Achina Road; Igwe Oluoha Road, Ihiala; Ndiukwuenu-Ufuma-Awa Road; School of Health Services Road, Nnewi; Oyeutu-Aguata-Utu Road; Chisco Osumenyi Road; Coscharis Umudim-Nnewi Road and Enem Hall, Otolo-Nnewi Road. In the central senatorial zone, work is currently on-going on many roads which include Aroma-Secretariat road and Aroma-Judiciary road and Amansea axis of the Onitsha-Enugu expressway. In the north senatorial zone, the Nteje-Umunya road and Umunya-Awkuzu axis of the Onitsha-Enugu expressway amongst others are currently undergoing rehabilitation.

The state Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta while announcing the commencement of construction work on the roads during a Town Hall meeting of ASATU held in Nnewi, appealed to communities in which these roads pass through to cooperate with the state government to ensure that the roads are well done for the benefit of those living in the areas. Nnachetta apologised for the inconvenience the current construction is causing commuters and motorists, adding that it was for the good of all.

THISDAY Correspondent who took a nocturnal stroll around Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha, reports that massive decoration and beautification works are also being done on the three major cities of the state. In Awka, the three flyovers on the Enugu/Onitsha expressway were being decorated with Christmas lights, while streetlights are being installed on all major roads in the town.

In Onitsha and Nnewi, the same is being experienced, while the hitherto rowdy and riotous Upper Iweka junction, which plays host to several motor parks in Onitsha has been cleared and made out into a park, with colourful Christmas light adorning the area, making it attractive at night, just as decorations are also being done on major roundabouts in the city. It was gathered that the idea behind the works is to ensure a serene environment in the coming yuletide, as indigenes of the state return home for the celebration.

During an interview with THISDAY, Anambra’s Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, said the Christmas celebration and the quest for a memorable Christmas for Ndi Anambra now dominate the State Executive Council meetings. “As you can see, work has commenced in several corners of the state, following the end of the rains. The State Executive Council meets on Mondays and what dominates the meeting lately is our preparation for Christmas.

A lot of Anambra sons and daughters will be coming home from far and wide, and our primary concern is to make sure that the state is conducive for their stay. So in the area of infrastructure and security, we are working hard. I hope that when the people come and see all that the governor has been able to put in place, they will see reason why he should go for a second term in office,” Okeke said.

Okeke lamented the paucity of funds in the state, saying that most of the roads being rehabilitated by the state government were federal roads. He said the state decided to work on them because the citizens of the state were the ones feeling the impact of the bad nature of such roads, but it hopes to apply for reimbursement once work is completed on them. The deputy governor also stated that talks are still ongoing between the state and federal government for the repayment of N43 billion spent by the state government on federal projects in Anambra.

Okeke said Anambra State government is still hoping that the federal government would make haste to pay the money. According to the deputy governor, with a whooping sum as N43 billion, which the state had spent on federal roads in the state, the governor, who has adopted the slogan, ‘doing more with less’ will be able to move in and add more construction works to what it is currently doing in the state, and if deployed for execution of projects will go a long way in transforming the state.

Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that with the approach of the 2017 governorship election which will come around November of next year, Anambra State governor, Obiano, plans to impress the people of the state with infrastructure and security to be able to win re-election then. Already, Obiano is being rated highly in these areas, and hopes to sustain them to impress the people of the state. In infrastructure, the governor is steadily building roads, and also putting streetlights in all major roads in the state.

In the area of security, Obiano has besides ‘Operation Kpochapu’, which is an Igbo word for clean up; a joint security operation which he launched at the beginning of his administration to fight criminal elements also launched operation Udoka Nma, which in English means; peace is the best. This security operation which was launched in Obosi, one of the towns notorious for violent elements he explained will work to ensure a safe yuletide for residents of Anambra and returning citizens of the state throughout the period.

Already, arrangements are in top gear in Anambra State among its residents for the Christmas, with monarchs of most towns and communities preparing for their Ofala festivals. The Ofala festivals are usually in most communities held at the close of the year, when members of the community from far and near return home to pay homage to their kings, and usually, it marks an anniversary of the coronation of the celebrating monarch.

THISDAY was in major parks in Onitsha and Awka to sample opinions on the level of preparedness of the transport company managers. At Ekene Dili Chukwu Transports, a luxury bus driver, Mr. Innocent Ogo told our correspondent that not much is being done in Onitsha office, even with the approach of the season. He said it is like that because the transport season does not commence for them at Onitsha until after the Christmas and New Year celebration, when returnees will be moving back to their base. “For now, we are preparing, but the season will be one sided because it is only from Lagos to Onitsha that the season will be holding, then by January, we will commence the return season.”

At ANIDS Park in Awka, a vehicle attendant said, “For now, the fare from Awka to Lagos is still N3,000 for the normal bus, and N4,000 for the air conditioned one. Here, our own season will not commence until after the New Year, when people will be coming back to their base. By that time, I think the fare may even rise to N8,000 or even N10,000 depending on the availability of fuel and also the kind of bus one is using.

On the whole, both from individuals, business men, civil servants and the government, Christmas is already in the air with every passing day in the month of December, and the state government is marking it in a special way with carnivals, which has already started with the Anambra Jubilee fair, a trade fair to support Anambrarians with shopping at a low price, and the forthcoming carnival to mark the closure of the six month celebration of the 25th anniversary of the creation of Anambra State.