Former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, and former Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressive Party, Prof. Kingsley Muoghalu, have called for holistic overhaul of physical infrastructure in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra.
The two prominent sons of the state made the call on Wednesday in Onitsha, during the inauguration of Chris Ukachukwu as the 13th President of the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
Chidoka, who who spoke on the topic, “How to make Onitsha a successful city,” decried the ‘progressive decay’ in infrastructure in the city.
He regretted the absence of treatment plant for both liquid and solid waste in the commercial town.
He further decried the lack of a clearcut demarcation between the multiple markets in the town and residential buildings.
The former minister said, “The markets have grown haphazardly. If we had followed the plan by United Nations Habitat, Onistha would not have become what it is today.”
He advocated the creation of Greater Niger Area, a functional transport system, restoration of the Onitsha water scheme, setting up of new targets for sanitation as well as investment in health and education.
According to him, the vision should be to make Onitsha a family, friendly sustainable city with a strong sense of community.
“Our greatest export to the world should be knowledge. Onitsha needs internet access with the creation of dot org. or dot ng.
“For all these to work, we need three concepts of knowledge, enterprise and values,” he further said.
Also, Muoghalu urged the chamber to engage the federal and state governments on how to tackle the huge infrastructure deficit in the city.
He underscored the need for the development of the Onitsha Inland Water Port and urgent implementation of the Onitsha master plan.
“There is need to reduce environmental degredation and revisit business model of Onitsha as a manufacturing hub,” he said.
He also charged the chamber to always identify with quality candidates aspiring to hold public offices.
In a remark, former Governor Peter Obi said Nigerians owed it a duty to hold leaders responsible for failing the people.
Obi advocated that only people with proven integrity should be elected into public offices.
“Hold leaders responsible and not just seat and pray for them. No country in the world is changed by prayers alone,” he said.
The Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Nnamdi Onukuba, lauded the contributions of the chamber to the state’s economic growth and promised government’s continued support.
Onukuba advised the group to engage the government constructively, especially in projects that would benefit the people.
In a speech, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Hajiya Saratu Iya-Aliu, urged the chamber to consider ways to tackle the menace of miscreants at Onitsha bridgehead.
Iya-Aliu, who was represented by John Udeagbala, Chairman, South East Chamber of Commerce and Industry, further urged the chamber to tackle the problem of multiple taxes, levies and insecurity.
She also spoke on the need for the chamber to engage the government to bring about good governance, while consoling the victims of the recent Onitsha fire.
In a remark, Ukachukwu pledged to improve on the achievements of his predecessors.
He promised to restore the Onitsha business environment to its former pride of place and strengthen collaboration with government and its institutions.
He also promised to ensure capacity buildings for members, especially women, adding that he would set up a committee to manage disputes among members.
He said that efforts would be made to buy firefighting equipment and also introduce an insurance scheme for traders to mitigate the huge losses often incurred during disasters.