In this piece, David-Chyddy Eleke looks at the promise made by Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, to give the state a smart city.

Part of Soludo’s campaign promise during the 2021 governorship election was to make Anambra State a ‘livable homeland’. This to the governor included a state that its indigenes will feel proud of, and one where no matter where in the world they are, they will be happy to come back home and live, without being in a hurry to leave.

For Soludo, that included a secure state, and one where infrastructure and amenities would not be lacking.

Since his swearing in, on March 29, 2022, Soludo has worked hard to overcome the security challenges in the state, posed by rampaging gunmen. Having beaten down the security challenges to a huge level, the governor may have now decided to concentrate on the twin challenges of providing infrastructure and developing the state to the mega city that he had promised.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has in the last three months since the dry season set in, turned the entire state into a huge construction yard, with road projects going on in various towns and communities.

He has also begun moves to solve the housing needs of citizens of the state, albeit, providing a smart city. To underscore the promise of creating a livable homeland for the people of the state, Soludo began work on his first day in office after swearing in with a visit to Okpoko community; a sprawling slum close to Onitsha, which plays host to a huge population of residents and lacks all the infrastructure that makes any location livable. He had demolished most homes, awarded road contracts and also cleared drainages in the area.

But just last week, Soludo stepped up to fulfil his promise to make the state a smart city, with housing infrastructures that parade several amenities and entertainment sites, that will turn it into livable homeland. The state government signed a public private partnership agreement (PPPA) with seven real estate companies to develop residential estates around the state capital territory.

The Managing Director of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Mr Mark Okoye who represented the state government during the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) said Awka is densely populated and the state government is working to decongest it, hence the need to engage the developers.

He said: “The state capital territory, consists of seven local government areas, and about 24 communities. Awka town is already congested, so, we are working to move into others parts of the capital territory, in order to decongest Awka. We hope that soon Anambra will play host to some of the best real estate companies in the country.

“72 proposals came through in the last few months, but only seven developers made it for now. You (approved developers) have been approved and you have been found to be competent. I must tell you that the governor has a problem with (people not keeping to) deadlines, and he will hope to inspect something in the next three months.”

THISDAY took time to speak with some of the real estate companies, who gave insight into what the people of the state should expect as they commence work on their project sites.

According to the developers, they hope to give the state estates, which would boost of the best residential buildings that can be found in any city, and among all, it would be built to accommodate high and middle income earners.

The developers were allocated between 50 hectares to 110 hectares of land, and mostly situated within the state capital territories, but away from Awka city. The idea, it was gathered, was to take development to the undeveloped parts of the state capital territories, and also encourage people to move out of Awka city, which is said to be congested already.

Group Managing Director of Rainbow Heritage Homes, one of the developers, Ihedinma Oliver, who signed an MOU with the state government, while speaking with THISDAY said housing needs is not peculiar to Anambra State, but a national problem. He however expressed hope that with the new agreements, Anambra will rise to become the livable city that the governor dreams of.

He also spoke of his ability to perform within the range of three years.

According to him: “Housing problems cut across the entire country. Housing problem is a national issue, and a lot of people in Nigeria have housing issues, and a lot of interventions have previously been made in the past. We have identified Anambra as a critical state for that level of intervention. We wanted to change the landscape of Anambra State, the way real estate is done, and want to find solution to problems by driving the right type of development to be able to tackle all the erosion and other problems that come with development in Anambra State.”

Oliver said the company plans to develop Golf Residency Estate on the 110 hectares of land allocated to it by the Anambra State government, and this will involve 1,000 units of buildings that will service high and medium income earners.

Housing deficit has continued to remain a huge problem in Anambra State, especially in densely populated areas like Awka and Onitsha, where a huge population of the people are believed to live in residential places, said not to be befitting of even pets, let alone humans.

But with the commencement of Soludo’s smart city project, one may only anticipate a better living standard for the people of the state in few years to come.