Imo state and politics of demolition

Monday,16 November sprung surprises to residents at Douglas Road, Owerri when they saw Government officials and caterpillars throng where the Ultramodern Somto Hospital was sited.

It was not long they realised the mission of the officials, to bring the hospital building down to its foundation and turn the spot to an open market.

The Somto Hospital was named so in honour of Master Somtochukwu Ibeanusi who was hit by stray bullet on August 26, 2017 when former Governor Rochas Okorocha had directed that the Ekeukwu (Ekeonuwa) market be demolished and traders forcefully relocated to uncompleted sheds at Nnaze market, Relief Market and Egbeada market.

The decision to demolish and relocate the market came with stiff resistance from the indigenes of the place, which was what informed the use of force. Master Somtochukwu became the collateral damage.

It seems the people of Imo State are used to Government demolition exercise on public properties which tax payers money were used to build. Mr Francis Anyadike posited : “We are used to it. Even Rochas demolished. Ihedioha came and demolished his own. Uzodinma is demolishing”.

Recall that Former Governor Emeka Ihedioha was barely 48hours in office when he approved the demolition of the ‘Akachi’ tower and some statutes which the administration of Rochas Okorocha.The Akachi Tower which was said to have measured over 40 feet also meant to serve as tourists’ site.

In 2012, Gov Rochas Okorocha had pulled down the Owerri Township School built by The Ihedi Ohakim administration, amidst serious criticism.

The politics of demolition seem to have become a tradition in Imo State. The ‘need’ for every Governor to want to demolish what the past Government has put in place negates the aphorism that “Government is a continuum”. The need for every current Government to obliterate every legacy of previous administration is indeed worrisome.

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Demolitions inadvertently mean the destruction of the collective patrimony of a State. Gov . Hope Uzodinma recently signed the revised budget of ₦108,385,836,139. Over 30% of this would be spent on Capital projects. Demolitions of those projects in the future by any subsequent administration would mean perpetual waste Imolites won’t ever recover from.

The Somto Hospital was built with Imo Taxpayers Money. Part of the reason peddled was that miscreants house there and that the structure was substandard. I think this is where the Imo State leaders can borrow a leaf from Governor of To State, Seyi Makinde who met several uncompleted projects on ground when he took over but instead of abandoning or demolishing them ,he completed most because he believes Government is a continuum and tax payers money must be put to good use.

Demolishing Somto Hospital which was built with public funds is a waste of slim resources. And saying the site would be turned to an open market reflects backward thinking. The hospital would have been repurposed. It would have been better if it were converted to low-cost housing, a school ,a shopping mall instead of levelling it for an unhygienic open market in 2020.

 

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