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The coal city achiever


SIR: I lived in Enugu in the 1980s although I later joined the exodus of young people abroad for further schooling. Life was enjoyable. Clean environment, good roads and running water were available. Parks and recreational places like Presidential Hotel, Zodiac Hotel and Emporium Nightclub gave residents a flavor of Western living. The city was reputable for its vibrant youth culture.

I remember rich traders from Onitsha trooping into town on weekends to go to parties and to stop at Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) and Enugu campus of the University of Nigeria to tickle their amorous sense among lovely female students. Enugu was then the relaxation haven.

Occasions of my visits in the 1990s and up, were unfortunately disappointing. Enugu looked so dry like a town hit by a bad harmattan. One can smell wretchedness in the air. There was no electricity, no running water, the roads were broken up and nightlife was gone. Residents were afraid of incessant attacks by armed robbers. To my greatest displeasure, student-life that made the city fun had turned into sex for money affair. Most female students have to hustle to pay their school fees and meet up to their needs.

In 2012, I had a chance to travel around most parts of the country. I was engaged by the World Health Organisation |(WHO) in a project – Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey. My return to Enugu was a pleasant surprise. I totally lost my bearing due to the changes. I was excited to visit the mega Shoprite Store at the site of the old Polo Park. Good roads with traffic lights that work covered everywhere. Modern shopping centres and state of the art hotels and bars lined major roads and affluent areas. My outing at the outdoor Bush Bar was an out of body experience. I thought I was at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the big screen projections showing sporting and musical events.

I pray you have been following my story this far. You must have observed that I have not mentioned any name associated with how this air of freshness blew into Enugu. The reason is simple. It is because the superficial consciousness never exists. The architect purposefully designed the city of his fantasy in silence. There was no need on his part for the vulgar posters smearing the look of many states with the face of their governor.

Welcome to the space occupied by the new futuristic Secretariat Complex like a giant billboard. It raises one’s antenna up entering the city from Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. These are exemplary achievements of visionary leadership. The city is secured like a garden. We do not need to look far to search for our champions of democracy. Come to Enugu and experience the work of a patriot. Sullivan Chime defied negative expectation.
• Pius Okaneme,
Umuoji, Anambra State.