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Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State

(Opinion) Ikpeazu’s War Against Street Trading by Godwin Adindu

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State

Have you forgotten Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s story? It was the story of the street man of Aba. Have you forgotten that he was the street sweeper of Aba – the story of a man tied to an inextricable destiny that saw an egghead academic romancing with the waste and filth of the streets of Aba? Have you forgotten the unthinkable fate and triumph of the man of the ivory tower who found himself scavenging in the wasteland of a city dunghill and yet acted well his part and played his roles with consummate passion? You will never forget the thriller; the story of dunghill to power – the Ikpeazu story.
Governor Ikpeazu is still on the streets of Aba and will remain there for a while until the paradise is regained. Call him the Streetman of Aba, not as a jibe but as a kind compliment to his passion for the sprawling city. He will return a smile of acceptance. By the way he acted in re-engineering the environmental management of the city as the Head of the Aba unit of the state environmental protection agency, Ikpeazu gained the endorsement of the Aba people and brought honour to himself.
But, today, it is no more about the refuse and the waste. The battle has moved on to illegal street trading. In all dimension, it is about the streets of Aba. Aba suffers from the menace of street trading and hawking and all manners of environmental pollution. Thus, the next battle is to sanitize the city and restore decorum to streets and this why the governor has embarked on relocating illegal street traders to new market locations. In the last couple of days, illegal street traders around the adjoining streets near the central stadium have been encouraged to move to the newly built Goodmorning Market, on the East side of Ngwa Road.

After the Goodmorning Market, the train will move down to the Abattoir Market at Ogborhill Waterside and from there to other locations where street trading constitutes environmental nuisance to the city. The Abattor Market traders will have to be relocated to another side because of the dredging and expansion of the Aba river which will recommence very soon. But, regrettably, there has been some couple of resistance by the traders against the effort of government to relocate them to new sites even when proper arrangement has been put in place to cushion the effect of the transition. Reason being that people are naturally scared of change. People do not readjust to change easily yet change remains the only thing that is permanent in life.
Indeed, the ongoing exercise of relocating illegal street traders is part of the large scale programme of infrastructural renewal and environmental restoration of the city of Aba for which the government created the Aba Urban Renewal Office and which is aimed at sanitizing the city and restoring its original map. This broad-based programme of restructuring Aba is a cardinal policy thrust of the Ikpeazu administration and one it is pursuing with passion, dedication and every sense of duty
This restructuring programme involves a general review of the state of the open markets and a general overhauling of the leadership of the markets including the associations and the different caretaker committees appointed by government to oversee issues concerning the markets. And it is for this reason that the government has had to dissolve many of the committees and leadership of the many market associations in Aba, and also had to appoint a market review committee headed by Mr. Solomon Nwaigwe with the brief to conduct a general review of the state of the markets and proffer solutions for charting a new course for the markets. The Nwaigwe-led committee has completed its work and submitted its recommendations.

Indeed, Ikpeazu is bent on winning the war against street trading because it causes a lot of menace both to traffic flow and environmental decency and poses a great risk to the life of the traders Nowhere in the world is the culture of street trading tolerated anymore and therefore Aba traders and residents must cooperate with government agents in the efforts to sanitize Aba and bring decorum to the city and its markets and desist from actions that could lead to confrontation with constituted authority.

Government is making this appeal sequel to the incidents that have been occurring in Aba in the last couple of days where miscreants and illegal street traders have tried to resist the instructions and directives of the officials of the Aba Urban Renewal Office, leading to some misunderstanding between the illegal street traders and the government officials. Government will not tolerate any form of deviant acts that would seem to hinder the progress of this laudable vision of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

The Abia Government is also disabusing the minds of Abians against the propaganda peddled by some disgruntled elements that the exercise is targeted against non-indigenes. Aba is a melting pot for all ethnic nationalities in the country. Aba does not only belong to Abians, it belongs to Nigerians and the world. Governor Ikpeazu is rebuilding a new city for the world.

Therefore, political jobbers and enemies of the state who are cashing in on this sanitation exercise to generate crisis and foment trouble are well advised to rethink their mischief. They must desist from acts and statements capable of inciting Aba residents against one another and causing the breach of the prevailing peace in the land.

Governor Ikpeazu recognises that the mandate to rebuild Aba and other major Abia cities would certainly come with sacrifices and this requires the co-operation of all Abians and this is in the overall interest of us all.

Indeed, the street sweeper is still sweeping.

Adindu is the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia Governor

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