The Chairman of Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State, Leo Nwuba has said contrary to the recent uproar over the renaming of Abakaliki Street in Awka, the state capital, the state had long designated another street to be named Abakaliki Street within the city.
“The new Abakaliki Street runs from Club Road, across Queen Suites to Enugu-Onitsha Expressway at the Parktonia Hotel end of the road. The street has clear signs identifying it as Abakaliki Street on both ends,” he said.
Controversy had trailed the renaming of the old Abakaliki street to Club road with Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi describing it as another attempt at ‘discriminating’ against Ebonyi State.
Abakaliki in the colonial times was the Regional headquarters of the Ogoja province.
Mr Nwuba expressed surprise that there was no attempt to balance the story of the renaming of the street with the announcement that another street had been also renamed as Abakaliki Street.
Explaining that the renaming of the former Abakaliki Street as ‘Club Road’ was part of the on-going efforts to ‘interpret’ the Awka City Master Plan, the chairman revealed that the plan was being tweaked to fit things into their proper places.
Mr Nwuba expressed shock that anyone could have read a malicious meaning into the renaming of the street.
James Eze, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Anambra, regretted that the renaming of the street had been given a wrong interpretation by some people.
“Governor Obiano is the last man to put down a fellow human being, let alone his own Igbo brothers. It is totally inconceivable that anyone could assume that the renaming of Abakaliki Street was done with an intention to spite anyone. The question to ask is, to what purpose, really?” queried Mr Eze.
“Governor Obiano has always been clear about what he wants to do about the new Awka Capital City. The former Abakaliki Street and the surrounding area have been designated as the entertainment hub of the city.
“That is where you have the largest concentration of entertainment hangouts. It is also a part of the city that never sleeps. We have a 24 hours life there. Government has provided adequate security, streetlights, road markings and everything that would encourage a 24 hours life in that axis. That district is gradually evolving into what might be called the Las Vegas of Nigeria especially on Friday nights,” Mr Eze explained.
He revealed that when there was an effort to rename the old Abakaliki Street as ‘Willie Obiano Avenue’, the Governor had quickly turned it down.
“He is meticulous about what should be where. That is why he has mapped out an area that would be known as the Central Business District within the capital. Other areas are also being carved out and properly designated. So, there is really no such thing as an attempt to discriminate against anyone in Governor Obiano’s plan.”
He said the governor recently announced that he had set aside the sum of N765 million for commercial motorcyclists in the state to enable them replace their motorcycles with shuttle buses following the policy to restrict them from operating in Awka and Onitsha respectively.
“The beneficiaries of this loan are indigenes of the five states in the South-east, Delta and Kogi States who are mostly involved in the motorcycle transport business in Anambra State. This kind of initiative cannot come from a governor who has any intention to discriminate against people,” Mr Eze explained.