By Stella Oduah
Once again, I wish to congratulate Prof Charles Soludo on his successful inauguration as the Governor of our beloved Anambra State. I have taken time to go through his maiden speech and found it to be promising. A greater Anambra is possible if his laudable ideas are achieved.
One area that caught my attention is his pledge to rebuild Okpoko which is in the Anambra North Senatorial District I represent in the National Assembly. To give effect to his promise, Governor Soludo, visited Okpoko on his first day of resumption of duty; thus keeping to his campaign pledge. Prof Soludo does not hail from my district but his initial disposition has presented him as someone that will be a Governor for Ndi Anambra. Okpoko has signposted him as detribalised and actually cosmopolitan. This is cheering.
Okpoko is a manifestation of long years of State government neglect. Okpoko should be a sore on our collective conscience. She deserves the best of our attention. She would not have turned a slum if timely attention was given to her by previous administrations. But she never got the attention she sure needed. It is for this reason that in my seven years of representation at the National Assembly, I have remained committed to the cause of Okpoko people.
Handicapped by dearth of funds, politics of appropriation and lean resource allocation, I have continually and zealously projected Okpoko. Even when it looked like every attempt is a drop in an ocean, I never got tired. As a mother, I desire that the children and youth who live in Okpoko get the best; that pregnant women have access to best medicare. Consequently, I initiated and ensured the execution of social amenities. Outside attracting government presence I had on many occasions used my personal resources to achieve set goals. I have engaged in road constructions, award of scholarships and other life changing ventures. But Okpoko needs more. Only deep finances obviously possessed by the executive arm of government can make the difference for Okpoko. Prof Soludo is here to exemplify it.
It is not all about cries and woes. Okpoko is work in progress. I cease every opportunity that comes my way to push for Okpoko; to change the narrative. As the Governor sets out to work on Okpoko, he should know about a few things. Okpoko has a mixed population of people from everywhere. It is a melting point of cultures; cultures of the unimaginable in attitude, behaviour and orientation. Everyone who is a Nigerian lives in Okpoko. It is not just Anambra people. So the approach must be rooted in a strong synergy and collaboration of stakeholders. As a first step, the Governor needs to consult with sister Governors and even state legislators (at least Speakers of Houses of Assembly) of the South-East. How and when they (Governors and legisltors) are able to commit to the Governor’s vision will help. The new strategy will of course displace populations and his colleague Governors need to be carried along so they help to manage the fallout. No one should blackmail the Governor or misunderstand his good intentions. Or even try to play ethnic politics when the works start in earnest.
Our brand new Governor may wish to know that a great deal of work has been done in and for Okpoko. For instance, i have commissioned many reasearches on the settlement. As well known, it has the highest concentration of people in the state. It has the highest poverty rate in the state. Shockingly, it has the highest number of widows in the state due to the dangers the men are exposed to. It has the highest number of many awful things…drugs, crime and social vices. But it is redeemable. There are many good people in Okpoko community. There are many hardworking, innocent, honest and trusted people in Okpoko.
To further buttress need for a multi-stakeholder approach, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) under Mr Boss Mustapha approved yet to commence distillation and erosion site reclamation works in the community. Governor Soludo can find this useful and reach out more. I can imagine his enthusiasm. I share same with him. He needs to identify the appropriate stakeholders and and work with them for a common purpose.
I wholeheartedly welcome his resolve to rebuild the community. I am delighted that his urban renewal efforts will be demonstrated with Okpoko. My Constituents will cooperate with him. I also pledge my support to him. Together, we shall achieve. The time to partner for Okpoko is now. Achieving that partnership with Governor Soludo is imperative. Okpoko deserves the best. Okpoko needs us. I never abandoned her. We welcome all men and women of goodwill to join hands with me and our Governor to do more for Okpoko. A safe Okpoko is a safer Anambra. And indeed a safer Nigeria. Ndi Anambra Dalunu!!
Long Live Anambra State!
Long Live Nigeria
Oduah is the Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District in the National Assembly