Editorial

OWERRI’S DISPLACED PERSONS

Too many people have been dislodged from their places of business and abode in the urban renewal drive in Owerri. The name urban renewal sets our minds in sweet anticipation that the face of this city will soon be changed for the better. It will hopefully be a new, modern city for which both the government and the people will be proud.
But the new city will be occupied by people. Lots of these people have been driven out and many will be decimated before the city takes its beautiful shape.
We plead passionately for these people. A place should be found somewhere in the heart of the government to enable these people survive by the time the city is fully reconstructed and ready for the people to reoccupy. This does not need much elucidation. The government is human. Why can’t it see the misery and distress of people who have been so displaced?
Let renewal start and end with people. It is not only about physical structures. The people need to be assisted in their relocation. Leaving them alone to sort themselves out will be too cruel and much of a burden in this time of crushing depression.
Human beings are production factors in the state’s economy. What will be the effect of their displacement and being rendered dormant in our economy? The losses will be incalculable, but modestly put in billions.
The state can avoid this by changing its strategy to involve the people in the entire renewal plan. The displaced people must be in the picture and the economy put into consideration in the plan. Displaced people must not be left to rehabilitate themselves all on their own accord and devices. It will lead to haphazard, disorderly settlements again in the outskirts and wherever people will be forced to go and stay.
That will vitiate the purpose of wholesale renewal in the state. Above all, people’s lives in large numbers are in grave danger as a result misery caused by the large-scale demolitions and displacements. The situation tends to demonize the government and give it a bad name. This will worsen when and if Keke people join them.
We feel obliged to point this out as humbly as we can and hoping that the government will take pity on our people who are stranded right now. It will do up its own good name by so doing.

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