Alaigbo regional physical development plan

The governors have been part of the problem. They feign ignorance of the importance of town planning in development. Consequently they ignore it…

Ralph Egbu

Town Planners in the South-East have opted to fight the course of restructuring by another means. Late General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu fought with arms and Nnamdi Kanu who came recently did not carry guns but his mood was more than a General in the army. Both faced expected stiff reactions from the benefiting class and so did not make much impact. Their failures threw up the need for a change in strategy. From the look of things, every indication suggests that the town planners have been infected by the bug flying about and that is a good one.

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Changes can be peaceful or bloody. The national question has been there since independence and efforts to resolve it have sometimes turned very fatal. The civil war is one of such and we all know it was costly. Accounts say over three million lives, mainly Igbo, we lost. This is exclusive of unquantifiable infrastructural destruction which included personal properties. Surprisingly since then the issue of acceptable political administrative architecture and other questions have remained thorny matters till today and from the look of things would remain so for a long time.

The country has managed to go on as one not because these unresolved matters are not pulling at the bonds of unity, but rather the disequilibrium has thrown up a situation in which some have become beneficiaries of the status quo, leaving others as miserable losers. The core north benefited from the upheaval of the 60s, they are holding tight to it and even ready to fight to keep what they have. No one should begrudge them. Given the way we behave 90 percent of us would do exactly the same. It is difficult for a healthy living being to spit out sugar from the mouth. The way the North has held on to its advantages and whether such is healthy for our union is entirely a different matter but the truth remains that you cannot be advantaged and want to talk and act like the disadvantaged, that would amount to stupidity of the highest order.

The West, given the national equation, has always held the ace and you must give it to them; they are experts in taking advantage of opportunities. They know what they want but would never fight frontally, always knowing where the wind is blowing from, accepting to join but on clear cut conditions. This strategy has always worked magic for them. Their area is developed and they virtually control the economy. If they get angry today the country could collapse. Those who control the reins of power know this and are always careful with them and by this they have a consolation; so joining an agitation is for them a pass time and this is because within or outside Nigeria the structures and infrastructure are in place.

The only two groups that have not made good use of the circumstances: the South-East habouring mainly the Igbo population and the South-South popularly described as the southern minorities. Their dislocation and subsequent subjugation have obviously introduced huge dislocation with attendant miseries. Of the two, the fortune of the South East has been the most pathetic. With a huge population they have the least number of states of all the geopolitical zones, which automatically translates to loss of political power and significance. Add to that is the fact that there is no visible federal presence in the zone, no industries, poor social infrastructure, deliberate state policy of marginalization and you get a clear picture of what the people of South-East go through in Nigeria.

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It is nasty, terrifying and very humiliating. Somebody once asked the question: if this is the situation, why are the Igbo unable to pursue their cause with a single mindedness? The answer is straight: when victors or oppressors deliberately suffocate their victims, close the economic space and virtually hunt them like animals, they succeed in creating what psychologists call siege mentality. In such situation, the law of self preservation prevails. This rule will apply to any society irrespective of sophistication under the same atmosphere. It is the pain that is provoking all manner of strategies including the application of force. Push may be necessary but it must not be allowed to get to the level of a shove. You can have Biafra without Biafra and that is where the strategy of the town planners makes so much sense. It is an idea which time has come.

We all are used to saying that action is better than words; the town planners have just proved that by their meeting in Enugu penultimate Thursday. The truth is that if most of the political leaders in the zone since after the military left in 1999 had applied their brain to good thinking and applied themselves to the final details of good governance, the cry of marginalization would have since died and the South-East would have been the zone to beat in the whole of Africa and the economy would have been competitive worldwide and the high migration rate associated with the area with all hazards and maltreatments attached to it would not have been.

The South-Eastern Town Planners under Chief Lekwa Ezuta have started a bloodless revolution and the task is just a simple one, to cross the horizons of defeat and step into big victory. They have men in distinguished professionals like HRH A.B.C Udeh, Ogbonna Chime, TPL Nwaogwugwu, Professors Ugwu and Joy Ughazi, amongst others, to turn the dream to reality. They also have the examples of Israel, remaking of Berlin, the capital city of Germany and the ‘Asian Tigers’ to learn from. Today, Jews in America, Europe and other continents leave those places and return to Israel and that is because the home country is as good if not better than where they domicile. Areas are well demarcated and every sector provided for. Aba can have a leather industrial cluster and the products sold in other clusters developed in other cities and rural areas in the other zone. The same way Ebonyi and Enugu can have rice industrial clusters with industrial marketing outlets in other parts of the same zone.

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The governors have been part of the problem. They feign ignorance of the importance of town planning in development. Consequently they ignore it and often times see no need to consult the professionals and when they reluctantly do, they ignore the professional advice received. This is hoping that new governors in 2019 would have a rethink on this matter and adopt a much more pragmatic approach. This would be to the benefit of all.