By Joe C Anatune
In the past one week, I have been criss-crossing various towns in Anambra State. In Nnobi, Agulu, Ekwulobia and Umunze for instance, I observed new commercial and industrial activities sprouting up rapidly. This is cheering. However, this cheering development is uncoordinated, unplanned and frightfully chaotic, and if something is not done fast, we shall behold chaotic ghettos instead of smart cities that is becoming a norm across the globe. Ekwulobia, Umunze and Nnobi are metaphors for the decays or lack of physical plans in our cities and towns.
Twice, I drove through the uncompleted road that spans through Amansea to Ufuma through my town, Awa and I observed to my dismay, massive bush burning in the huge, uncultivated land on that stretch. Behind my house and our community secondary school, the students chose to burn the grass instead of cutting them. This was done in the full glare of the school authorities and to my astonishment and that of my guest, Barr. Okey Okafor.
Agonisingly, finding good sports facilities that measure up to global standards is like finding a pin in the proverbial haystack. The Neros Sports Complex and a few fledging others here and there calmed my nerves and obvious frustrations.
In spite of the ‘Aku luo uno’ campaign, the industries that will absorb our army of unemployed youths are still few and in-between. As I move through the drinking joints, viewing centres and other social points in the village, the palpable fear that grips me is that something will give some day. For now, an obsession to bet this or that is a temporary elixir giving hope to both the youths and elders that they can still be in the gravy train.
Ironically, we still have polytechnic and university curricula that still proudly parade typing and short-hand, notwithstanding the massive technological innovations that have made them obsolete. Most students live and mill around the streets more than the campuses, to the extent that you wonder if the cherished tradition of the ivory tower imbuing learning and character is still tenable.
The foregoing and more, were the preoccupations of the Anambra V-2070 committee for two days at the Golden Tulip, Agulu Lake Hotel, Anambra State. Every aspect of the life and various sectors of the state were brought to the fore and critically reviewed, bearing in mind, key global trends that are impacting the way the world lives, works and enjoys. And for Anambra State to catch up with the rest of the developed world in the next 50 years, something radical or if you prefer, disruptive, needs to occur, given the peculiarities of the endowments of the people and her geography. But the committee, comprising the best Anambra boasts of, are aware that they do not have all the answers to the much desired disruptive changes that are needed.
So, they want an all inclusive involvements of Ndi Anambra in the thinking and planning of the New Anambra from now to 2070. Inputs are therefore, sought from traditional and religious leaders, town unions and their leaders, trade associations, professional bodies and indeed, everybody who has ideas on the future of Anambra State.
Indeed, this is the first time the state is embarking on putting together a Development Plan and it is believed that participation of all is crucial for collective ownership. In this regard, the Committee will appreciate contributions in PowerPoint format via firstname.lastname@example.org or through the WhatsApp number 08082910000.
However, the tipping point of the first plenary of the committee’s assignment was the meeting/consultation of town unions, market associations, civil societies, religious bodies, professional bodies and civil servants at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka. Here, the V-2070 Chairman, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, provided the imperatives for embarking on the Plan; the global trends impacting on the way we do things, the outline of areas of enquiries of the committee and the work time-table. It was an exhilarating interactive session as the audience enthusiastically made far-reaching suggestions that will enrich the work of the committee.
Town union leaders were particularly excited about their involvements in the planning process by way of undertaking robust needs assessment of their towns and their projections of the new Anambra they want. Beaming with smiles, it was apparent that Soludo was satisfied with the inputs he got from the crowd that filled the hall and flowed outside. The audience showed satisfaction as they, one after the other and in groups, struggled to have selfies with the chairman, after what one of the town union presidents called a “brilliant and all encompassing presentation.”
What is therefore, glaring is that Soludo and his team are poised to take Anambra State to higher levels and that the way we live, work and enjoy will improve radically for the better.
So for now, it is onward Anambra.
- Anatune writes from Awa in Orumba North LGA.