Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state, South-East Nigeria, has promised to compensate landowners whose land will be used for the implementation of Enyimba Economic City.
Ikpeazu made the pledge at a meeting in Aba with the stakeholders of Ukwa East, Ukwa West and Ugwunagbo local government areas where the city is to be sited.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment toward realizing the project.
The Governor said compensation would help to boost the commitment of landowners who would be co-drivers of the project through monitoring of every stage of its development.
He urged the stakeholders to set up committees in their communities that would sensitise their people to the need to support the project, expected to create 500,000 jobs for Abia people.
The Governor called on youths of the areas to prepare and equip themselves educationally to take up lucrative opportunities that the project would throw up.
He commended the stakeholders and traditional rulers for surrendering their agricultural lands for industrial purposes aimed at providing sustainable opportunities for future generations.
Ikpeazu said that the major bottleneck of power supply to the city had been tackled and expressed joy over the readiness of the people to be partners on the project.
The Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Chief Uche Ihediwa, said the ministry’s interaction with the 33 communities involved had reached an advanced stage.
He said the ministry was halfway through its second visitation tour of the communities “preparatory to enumeration, valuation, compensation and commencement of construction”.
The commissioner said the visits had opened up some challenges which the state government and stakeholders must address to ensure the progress of the project.
He listed some of the challenges as negative impact of some failed state projects such as Obuaku City, Ogwe Golden Chicken, International Market, Umudobia, refusal of some communities to embrace the project, youth restiveness, among others.
He also noted that the lack of security for the ministry’s staff and the lack of operations vehicles for workers were issues that needed to be addressed for the project to succeed.
Ihediwa, who said his ministry was still encountering difficulties with acceptance of the project by some communities, called on stakeholders to sell the project to the people to make the work easy.
Chief Darl Uzu, a Private Sector Developer for the project, said the benefits of Enyimba Economic City were numerous.
Uzu expressed delight that negotiations with the land owners were gradually yielding fruit.
The represenatives of Ukwa East, Chief Paul Taribo, and Ukwa West, Chief Mezie Nwaubani, as well as former Commissioner for sports, Chief Chinwe Nwanganga and former Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Chinedu Brown, thanked the Governor for siting the project in the area.
They said that the project would benefit the people economically.
Eze Young Ogbonna, Eze Onyemachi Ogbulu, Eze Goddy Ukanna and Mr Ndubuisi Enyioko, appealed for compensation, immediate development of the project and accommodation of major land donors in the project.
They also assured the governor of their unwavering support in the bid to realize the project.
Amaka E. Nliam