Igwe Achebe Calls For Improved Social, Infrastructure Development To March Upcoming Facilities, As Ofala Onitsha Holds
BY SUNNY DAVID
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe has called for attention to be paid to social and infrastructural development within the greater Onitsha to cope with major infrastructure developments around the metropolis.
This is to ensure the developments are in tandem with the ongoing construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, the commencement of operations at the Onitsha River Port and the soon–to-be completed, Anambra International Cargo Airport.
He made this known while speaking during the 2020 Onitsha Ofala, which was held on Sunday.
Igwe Achebe observed: “Whilst the Second River Niger Bridge, the Ports operations, and the Anambra Airport, will lead to increased economic activity and prosperity in the metropolis, as well as in Anambra State and the other SouthEast States, they will also put pressure on an already dilapidated infrastructure in the metropolis’’.
The Monarch, then, called for the design and implementation of a massive urban renewal plan for Onitsha Metropolis based on an updated UN Habitat 2009 Structure Plan for Onitsha and Satellite Towns’’.
The Obi of Onitsha adds: “The plan will not only address the current lack of city planning, high level of environmental pollution and the absence of a well-designed sewer and waterfront and channelisation system, but will also help manage the outcome of the developments that would arise from the new projects.
“Such an ambitious plan will best be executed through the creation of a Greater Onitsha Development Authority, encompassing the city and its neighbouring towns.”
This year’s Ofala was marked in a low-key manner in line with the decision of the Onitsha Traditional Council, so that the community would fulfill its annual traditional and ritual obligations in a modest way and to comply fully with the COVID -19 safety and hygiene protocols.
The decision took account of the general mood of the country and was a mark of respect for all persons in Onitsha and around the world who had been adversely affected by the pandemic.
The Ofala, which is the highpoint of Onitsha Ceremonial Cycle, was held this year without the usual display of Royal Dances, tributes, parades, music, and the Art, in addition to other associated events that have come to characterise the beauty and elegance of the festival.
“Rooted in deep spirituality, the Ofala is primarily a celebration by the Monarch and his subjects to mark the Monarch’s annual emergence from seclusion, during which period he has successfully negotiated the fortunes of the kingdom.”
A Proclamation issued on June 18, this year by His Majesty provided the rationale for the decision said: “based on current projections, the Coronavirus is unlikely to be brought under control and the country fully opened up, before the end of August and into September.”
The Proclamation also observes: “The adverse consequences for the economic and social lives of the country, will naturally have a serious impact on our own community life in Onitsha.”
Igwe Achebe has recently announced a community-based Economic Empowerment Programme as part of a strategy for medium to long –term sustainable interventions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.
The low-key approach was very evident in the celebration of the earlier festivals on the annual ceremonial cycle.
These are Ajachi on June 29, Umatu on August 1, and Owuwa Ji, the celebration of the New Yam harvest, which commenced on September 26 and will end on October 17.
Based on governments’ review of the COVID-19 crisis, and consultations with the community constituent groups, Igwe Achebe has issued another proclamation, with effect from October 18, to allow gradual resumption of communal traditional and social life whilst complying with the extant COVID-19 protocols on hygiene and safety.