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Lessons for Orlu, Okigwe zones from Uzodinma’s attention on Owerri water scheme

By Business Hilights S’East Bureau Chief

First official project reactivated immediately he assumed office was to make sure that water supplies are restored in parts of Owerri zone and mainly the state capital.

Even before his emergence from the Supreme Court verdict of January 14, 2020, the former Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, like his predecessor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has already started facing the same Owerri zone and environs with new sets of development projects.

From all indications, it is still confusing what always informs past and present states governors that they are the governor of Owerri zone than the governor of Imo State which has three mega developments centre made up of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe zones.

These three zones are blessed with growth poles from where development activities can begin to spread out into the their hinterlands, but every development emphasis of previous governors had always been that Owerri zone is Imo State and Imo State alone.

Time has come to not only correct that recurring unilateral development agenda of Owerri and utter negligence of two other zones of Orlu and Okigwe.

This correction must start with the current governor, who happens to be a son of the soil in Orlu having come from Omuma in Oru East Local Government Area (One of the LGAs that made up the 12 LGAs in Orlu Zone) of Imo State.

Taking a cursory look at the way and manner he has been sweating to deliver water supplies in parts of owerri ever since he was sworn in, it is important to start with water crisis in the state and especially in Orlu and Okigwe zones.

Going memory lane, it is very important to recall according to Dennis Ozuo, that during the military era, Owerri people seized all govt institutions that induce development in Imo state only for Owerri zone, no consideration for Orlu or Okigwe zones.

Developments in Orlu zone had been all by self-help efforts and the current generation say no to that. This is time to have a clear taste of dividends of democracy across Orlu and Okigwe zones and it had failed under Udenwaa and Okorocha, it must not fail again under Seantor Hope Uzodinma.

This is very important to serve as a reminder to him so that the mind set must guide him in naming his commissioners.

For the fact the governor have started his leadership performance with water supplies which he had again, started in Owerri through issuing orders and recently, visiting the Imo State Water Corporation (ISWC), he must do same for Orlu and Okigwe water works.

Historical perspectives on water resources development in Imo had a pathetic account of how Orlu and Okigwe zone were balkanised and abandoned by all administrations.

Recall that Former governor Evan Enwerem from Owerri zone inherited Orlu Regional Surface Water Supply project after Chief Sam Mbakwe who completed feasibility studies on the project before the military struck.

Enwerem ignored Orlu and Okigwe water projects. Udenwa government was able to fast-track and complete work on Okigwe regional surface water supply project which was commissioned by late President Umaru Yar Adua in 2008. The records and news reports are there in the archives.

Rather than reviving the scheme, Chief Ikedi Ohakim and Okorocha suppressed both Orlu and Okigwe regional water schemes.

Even facts and figures recently showed that even ousted Chief Emerka Ihedioha wanted to hide Orlu water project under the rugs in his office with the quick flag off of a new mini city of 1000 houses only in Owerri zone and nothing for Orlu and Okigwe zones as if nobody leaves in both zones.

The demands of Orlu and Okigwe people are very clear in terms of water; To induce development in Orlu zone, revive and deliver the surface water supply project of Orlu and Okigwe zones; establish a multi faculty government university in Orlu zone and others.

There had been excess tertiary institutions in Owerri. Time has come for the development of higher institutions in Orlu zone to enable natives of Orlu zone enjoy the multi advantages in closeness to multi faculty Government University; the same advantages natives of Owerri zone have been enjoying for decades.

Still on water issue, it is very clear that the trio of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe towns all have a uniform distance of about 40kms.

Accordingly, if the water supply projects and housing schemes for Okigwe and Orlu zones are actualized has had long been done for Owerri, anybody can permanently settle in anywhere in Imo state and go for business anywhere in the state and beyond.

No modern persons would opt to settle outside Owerri zone where a sustainable public water supply system exists in Imo state.

Several elders from both Orlu and Okigwe have averred that if Senator Uzodinma leaves office without starting or completing work on the most sustainable public water supply system planned by Mbakwe administration to supply treated running water to nearly all the local government areas in Orlu senatorial zone, it will mean that the age-long spell on past governors except Dee Sam Mbakwe, has caught up with Senator Uzodinma.

Towards the end of last week, Governor Uzodinma said that majority of the patients he met at hospitals in Owerri metropolis were suffering from one form of water-borne diseases or the other. He promised that before one month “Imo people” shall be drinking water treated water from Owerri regional surface water supply system. Let’s bear in mind that people in Orlu senatorial zone deserve to have their regional surface water supply system mapped out for them by Mbakwe govt to be actualized also.