Anambra State Governor-elect Cee Cee Soludo has been consistent in his resolve and determination to give Okpoko town in Ogbaru Local Government Area a new lease of life. This is in line with his goal to transform Anambra into becoming the most liveable smart Megacity in Nigeria. Liveability and prosperity are the fulcrums of the new Anambra he envisions, while ensuring that our major cities of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia are clean, green and well-planned is foundational to the success of this goal. The governor-elect has in several fora declared that his first official engagement after swearing in will be a visit to Okpoko to launch activities for the slum’s upgrading.
For the benefit of many who may not be familiar with Okpoko, it is the unplanned settlement lacking basic social amenities such as clean water, sanitation, access roads and hygienic facilities. The landscape is further dotted with unsafe and unhealthy homes with dirty floors, without windows and with leaky walls and roofs. The homes (yards) are often overcrowded and also lack good toilets. The structures are weak and can be blown away by winds, especially during rainy seasons. Indeed, Okpoko is devoid of basic conditions and amenities for residents to live decently and thrive as human beings. It is no surprise that children of the community tend to perform much worse in school with comparatively higher dropout rate. The result is the recycling of the dynasty of poverty.
Okpoko caught the attention of Soludo in 2010 in the course of his governorship electioneering tour of Onitsha and its suburbs. The horrible image of Okpoko and the hilarious conversation he had with a young boy who asked for money from him had struck him vividly. Pleasantly, he obliged the kid some money and also promised him that he would do all within his powers if he became governor to give him and other residents of Okpoko a better quality of life.
Eleven years after, Soludo was overwhelmingly elected governor of Anambra State. And true to his words, he has not forgotten the promise he made to the kid. He is poised to upgrade the Okpoko slum for the benefit of the residents and to the glory of God. No doubt, a new dawn is here for Anambra in all its glorious possibilities.
Be of good cheer!!
Joe C Anatune
Writes from Awa.