15 July 2018

Nigeria: When Street Name Causes Disharmony Between Anambra, Ebonyi

Abakaliki — Two states, Anambra and Ebonyi, took mere renaming of a street too far.

The renaming of 'Abakaliki Street' to 'Club Street' in Awka, Anambra State capital, by Governor Willie Obiano in May has continued to generate tension between the sister states.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that Governor Obiano's action was made during an unscheduled visit to the area with some top government functionaries.

Many people, who picked the news mainly from the social media, condemned the action, saying it was an act of marginalization which they thought was long gone after the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996. Some also considered the action may disunite the entire South-East region.

Some Ebonyi State indigenes in Awka staged a protest which made Governor Obiano to name another street situated at the new phase of the state capital after Abakaliki.

Findings from Daily Trust on Sunday revealed the renaming of 'Abakaliki Street' to bear 'Club Street' was to reflect its true status which it is known as zone for fun seekers.

The reason were, however, not accepted by the Ebonyi State House of Assembly which issued a 7-day ultimatum to the Anambra to reverse the action or be ready for retaliation, in the same token.

The lawmakers vowed that should Obiano fail to restore the name to Abakaliki Street, Ebonyi State would be mandated to rename all structures in the states that were named after men and women or towns related to Anambra.

A Senior Assistant to Governor Obiano said the action of his boss in renaming the street to 'Club Street' was his constitutional right which is not questionable.

The Governor's aide also condemned the escalation of the matter which he considered as family affair and blamed the overzealousness of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly when they should have been constitutional equipped with such matters.

The Vice Chairman, Abakaliki Urban Forum, an umbrella body of non-indigenes in Ebonyi State, Mr Becky Orji, maintained that Anambra and Ebonyi states had built decades of mutual relationships and not even a renaming of a street was capable of causing disunity among them.

Mr. Orji who hails from Abia State added the previous governments in Ebonyi State appointed prominent sons and daughters of Anambra State to serve the state in different capacities.

Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, through his Chief Press Secretary to Ebonyi State Governor, Mr Emmanuel Uzor, described the development as needless. He noted that his Anambra counterpart has the constitutional right to rename any structure but reminded him that "in doing so, the unity and perpetuation of legacies and sustenance of the things that hold us together as a people should first and foremost, come to mind."

He said to avoid the kind of dust the incident has generated from Ebonyi State, the Governor promptly allotted a better, strategic and longer street which was overlooking the Enugu/Onitsha Federal Dual Carriageway to bear 'Abakaliki Street.'

The group under the auspices of Anambra Town Unions domiciled in Abakaliki, through the President-General, Comrade Ifeanyi Nwabueze, noted that the matter was a very sensitive one which should be handled with caution.

Indegenes of Abakaliki who support the restoration of the street name argued that it was given the name because the first man who settled there was an Abakaliki man.

A supporter of the move, Miss Joy Adiumu said: "I was told that the first man who settled and erected a building here when the area was a forest was an Abakaliki man. So it is a legacy to us residing here in Awka, so we will be happy to have it back."

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