• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Owerri and its passing impressions

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Passing through Owerri, the capital of Imo state, you get the impression of a city with a direction; that direction is beauty. There is orderliness, serenity, greenery, civil service mentality, hotels and what they do. Watching the city, you see the people- a relaxed, pleasure-loving folk without bloated appetite for material acquisition. The great thing about such trait is, give them what they want, they give you the service of your dream plus a space for glee. Quite a healthy mentality.

It’s not so with its neighbours: To its West is Onitsha. There, it’s about money but with dismal quality of life. A non-verdant city with fading high-rise buildings that increasingly make it look like an urban desert. I gather governor Obi did a lot to put things right but the heaps of rubbish, abandoned vehicles, disgusting hold-ups and noise won’t let go; what then is the pursuit of money without ease of life? Quickly pass by. To its East is Port Harcourt- an oil city with not much to show for the big-cash-inflow.

There, people erect buildings first, then remember roads later. When eventually a road is squeezed in, no two cars can pass from opposite directions. Port Harcourt is a typical example of Nigeria’s road-side development mentality. Behind the major streets are slumps.

Its in-city waterways have become stagnant because of faulty construction works that blocked the outflows; now they’re dumping grounds for plastics- something that otherwise would have impressively added to the city’s beauty. A thought is that politics would have addressed this anomaly, but no.

Well, it’s all about vision; you have it, you have it, you don’t, you don’t.  To have a feel of what life should be, Owerri is it; Calabar is far and Uyo is just coming up but still off-route. To Owerri’s north is Aba. Maybe better to use the word ‘sorry’. But ironically, people from Owerri, PH, Uyo, even Calabar and Cameroon throng there because they get all they want at affordable price, so nobody minds. But to relax, Aba moves to Owerri, Onitsha and Port Harcourt follow.

That has made Owerri become a pleasure city but also, one of silly fun. Tales of abominable sex life abound. It’s spoken of naked women in brothels; of moneybags hiring the services of naked women to do various things, worse still, teens join in droves, they play for a year or two, contract disease of sorts and die. Many are impaired and the few pollute others with endless tales of ritual killings. You ask, is it the government’s affair or the people’s? Before the government, the people were.

They own the land. How were they living? Through prostitution? Definitely not. Should they watch passively or have a voice on how their land is and should be? How can they enforce it? This is why they need to come together for a solution.

The government, the clergy, youths and traditional leaders should call this a serious challenge. Definitely, socioeconomic arguments will come up as reasons, but why Owerri and not others? Why it should go profusely lose has to be understood and tackled. Certainly, if they get it right, they become the standard for others. The youths die; the money they seek to make eludes them; they bring disease and spread it, medicare is poor, so more die, more are corrupted- a no-win game for the people.

A time comes when a people stand to defend their values; a time comes when they draw a separation-line between pleasure and obscenity. Part of obscenity is scourge that scorches; that’s not what they want and won’t have. Their part is to raise a voice and stand firm against it. It’s also a challenge to government to mistake obscenity for pleasure and give it silent treatment. Its silence encourages the acquisition and practice of unproductive skills by its youth.

That should make it feel concerned; the imported disease they bring eats up budget; their eventual death is bad press because government failed to educate and provide viable alternatives. Owerre is producing Igbo classics in music, that music comes from classical values and to equate those values to obscenity is a disservice. Owerre is showing the direction of the next generation of cities; it’s one that adds quality to life and obscenity isn’t part of it. We know that when governor Okorocha means something, he does it. We’re not saying, he should go clubbing down the ladies, rather, a comprehensive approach to dissuade vice and put all on the track of development and honour is the expectation.

It’s about good news for humanity, Owerri has it, nudity isn’t one of it, prostitution is way off it. Like it came, so shall it go. The people and their government are equal to it.

Onyebuchi Onyegbule