Barely two-and-half months into his administration, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, takes the unpopular decision to demolish several properties on Federal Housing Estate, to make way for the proposed dualisation of Nike Lake Road.
Andrew Okafor, 50, is an Enugu-based businessman. He raised a loan from a mortgage bank several years ago to construct a one-storey building at the Federal Housing Estate, Enugu, the Enugu state capital. The house is located on Nike Lake Road, Trans-Ekulu. Interestingly, the building plan was accordingly approved by the federal ministry of housing, and beyond that the construction work itself was supervised by the same ministry consequent upon payment of the specified official fees.
It was reliably gathered that the specifications of the federal ministry of housing regarding “setback and working drawings”, were stringently complied with in the construction of the one-storey building.
Indeed, an official “setback” of three metres from the drain was specified by the federal ministry of housing for all structures at the Federal Housing Estate, Nike Lake Road, Enugu.
If one is coming from PENOKS, the housing estate lies on the right hand side – up to the popular NOWAS bus stop, while the state-owned housing estate is on the left hand side of that same road.
Okafor’s joy knew no bounds following the successful completion of the building. .A native of Anambra state, he kept on telling his friends that he left his village to settle in Enugu carrying only a polythene bag which contained his worn-out clothes. But by dint of hard work –spiced with divine intervention – he established a thriving cosmetic shop.
And anxious to put a roof over his head, he secured a loan from a mortgage bank to set up a one storey-building at the Federal Housing Estate – an accomplishment he considered necessary to escape from the tyranny of landlords.
However, Okafor’s joy has given way to depression – even frustration. Reason: On July 7, 2015, a demolition notice was pasted on the property by the Enugu state Capital Development Authority (ESTCDA); demanding that the building be “removed” within seven days.
This is not an isolated case.Reporters also observed that demolition notices were pasted on many other buildings along the Nike Lake Road. The buildings include and are not limited to the famous Sunrise International Nursery and Primary School, Content Oil and Gas, Dontell Hotel, Akachukwu Pharmacy Ltd., St. Phillips Church, part of Sazodo Plaza, which is close to NOWAS filling station.
Like Okafor, Sir Architect Eduz Mgbemena, proprietor of Sunrise International Nursery and Primary School, is also in a state of despair and his health seems to have taken a downturn following the marking by ESTCTDA on his property for demolition.
“My wife and I have already gone to see more than one medical doctor because our blood pressures have been raised because of the marking of our property for demolition.”
“And one planning officer in ESCTDA, who thinks that he is the first man ever to be a planning officer, kept raising our blood pressure by telling us that we should have constructed our structures five metres away from the gutter, and even questioned us on why we built shop outlets by the roadside.”
“Even in Independence Layout, there are shop outlets. Why has he not questioned that? Even in areas close to Government House, people who have houses there, have shops, and nobody has questioned them on why they should have shops there. So, the thing is embarrassing, and we don’t know who to talk to. “ “Let the government keep cool, and maintain the status quo, and the status quo is that the standard as at the time we built our houses was three metres “setback” and we kept it.”
“I am already an old man, and I do not see the reason why the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led administration should wake me up from sleep and start destroying my property, and those of other property owners on that road.”
“I worked in different capacities in government before I retired as controller in the Housing Development Corporation of the then Eastern Nigeria. I am a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, and I don’t see why anybody should start harassing me after serving the country meritoriously”, said Mgbemena.
He said that the current width of the road is enough for the state government to make it a dual carriage way, adding that if the government insists on expanding the road, it should take one metre from both sides of the road without destroying anybody’s property.
On assumption of office on May 29, 2015, Governor Ugwuanyi, pledged to transform the backwater town of Nsukka, to a modern urban city. He also promised to reconstruct the dilapidated roads in Emene and Abakpa – two densely populated satellite towns in Enugu metropolis.
Specifically, Governor Ugwuanyi who came on board on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said the inhabitants of Emene and Abakpa, voted massively for him during the gubernatorial election, hence his decision to give them a new lease of life. He promised not to touch the roads in high-brow areas like Independence Layout, Zoo Estate, Trans-Ekulu, on the basis that most of the property owners on these areas reside outside Enugu, and, therefore, have no voting power in the state.
Not a few say that the decision of the governor to make Nike Road a dual carriage way, constitutes a departure from his earlier promise to concentrate his developmental effort in areas occupied by the down-trodden – who massively voted for him during the just concluded gubernatorial election in the state.
Nevertheless, though some property owners on Nike Lake Road are not vehemently opposed to the expansion of the road, they however, appealed to governor Ugwuanyi, to consider other options that would reduce the destruction of several buildings in the area, more so since the construction of a dual carriage way on Nike Lake Road, is not in the original master plan of the area.