By Ozioma Odita
August 15, 2020|RAZORNEWS
It was certainly not by accident that Hon. (Mrs) Joan Onyemaechi Mrakpor; popularly known as ‘Ada Anioma’ was in August, 2019 appointed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the Director-General of Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (DSCTDA) commonly referred to as Asaba Capital Territory Development Agency. The appointment had come largely because of Mrakpor’s political pedigree as a go- getter on anything she applies her mind and energy to.
Governor Okowa must have noted this sterling quality while Mrakpor was serving as a two-term lawmaker at the Delta State House of Assembly and later at the House of Representatives as a law maker in the green chamber.
On assumption of office in August, 2019 as the Director-General of the Agency, Mrakpor did not leave anyone in doubt of where she was headed as in less than one month of resumption, all contractors who had abandoned their sites along Okpanam Road (in particular) for certain contractual lapses quickly mobilized back to site. The sudden re-awakening of consciousness on the part of Asaba township project contractors in the light of whatever may have induced them to return to site was ostensibly seen in the public space as the doing of Hon. Mrakpor. This automatically gave birth to a signature tune that has come to be known as “Mrakpor Effect.”
Asaba which was Nigeria’s first colonial capital under the British Royal Niger Company from 1886 to 1900 had for decades after Nigeria’s attainment of Independence remained a historical reference point but not with so much infrastructural development or environmental orderliness to show for its urban status.
The emergence of Asaba as a capital city when Delta State was created in 1991 from the old Bendel State, was expected to speedily lead to the transformation of the town into modern day capital city that should wear the garb of excellence in environmental orderliness and cleanliness. Regrettably, in spite of efforts of previous governments to develop the capital city, Asaba could not really fit in as a modern capital with much environmental attraction until recently.
In setting up the Agency, Okowa’s administration was unarguably mindful of the existence of Asaba Master Plan and was poised to work in line with the government vision on the implementation of the Master Plan. Hence the government looked in the direction of Mrakpor as one who the cap fits to succeed the pioneer Director-General of the Agency in bringing vibrancy towards achieving the mission objectives of the Agency.
It is evident that Governor Okowa did not make wrong choice as Hon. Mrakpor has proved to worth the position in the past one year. Since she became the boss of the Agency, there has been a remarkable paradigm shift in the environmental status of Asaba as a capital city. There has been a great turn around in terms of environmental cleanliness as she has moved the sanitation and beautification of the city to a higher stake such that Asaba now goes with some appeal that was lacking in the past years.
Few weeks on assumption of office, Mrakpor had dispatched letters to landlords and business premises in Asaba intimating them of the need to clean up their surroundings as the new vision for Asaba transformation was set to be realized. As may be expected, some landlords and business owners did not understand the import of the 21-day notice given, before the commencement of demolition which eventually jolted them out of their sleep literarily speaking.
As part of the plan to clean up Asaba, tricycle riders whose businesses received some boost following the banning of commercial motor cyclists few years ago were the first hit in Mrakpor’s drive to ensure decency and orderliness in the city. From Summit Road to DLA Road through Okpanam Road, all the tricycle riders were brought under strict control. Indiscriminate parking or picking of passengers was outlawed and parking was restricted to certain areas and orderliness began to return to the city.
Since Mrakpor assumed office, Asaba has been cleaned of filth, illegal structures, shanties while itinerant hawkers, petty street traders and so on, have disappeared considerably from the streets. She has steadily crusaded for a better Asaba and in trying to achieve the desired result, she has not been unmindful of what may be the feelings of the people, so she has consciously moved with human face and compassion.
Unlike what obtains in some parts of Nigeria, where the bulldozers are rolled out to uproot structures considered illegal without making provision to assuage the feelings of the less privileged who may be caught up in the process, Mrakpor seeks to carry the people along as she takes time to prepare their minds towards what government’s intentions may be, at any point with regards to the upgrading of environmental status of Asaba.
Though not all affected persons in the demolition exercise of illegal structures would like to applaud her drive, yet Mrs. Mrakpor is cheered by greater number of people who see her as genuine agent of change of the old Asaba to a new capital that would epitomize beauty in every ramification. To some people, Mrakpor is God sent to make Asaba a better capital. The traditional ruler of Asaba, Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien, Asagba of Asaba, acknowledges this much, sometime ago, when he proclaimed Mrs. Mrakpor (Ada Anioma) as an Asaba citizen due to her commitment in enhancing the status of Asaba as a modern day state capital.
Prior to the appointment of Mrakpor as the Director General of the Agency, there had been a high level of stubbornness among residents in the capital city towards embracing some change in their environmental behaviours, hence the former Director-General and even commissioner for environment did not achieve the ultimate in terms of environmental cleanliness.
The narrative however changed with the coming of Ada Anioma on board as she was not going to take such unrepentant attitude of some residents as a fait accompli but rather do the needful, no matter whose ox is gored. With determination, she was able to enforce compliance with environmental laws of the land and within a short time; people began to understand her mission. Though, some aggrieved residents whose illegal structures and other violators of the state environmental laws have had occasions to bemoan the fate that befell them, yet most Asaba residents are now happy with the level of sanity in most parts of the city.
In recent media reports, a good number of residents have openly commended Mrs. Mrakpor, describing her as a great change agent who had chosen to thread on the path most people had feared to walk in terms of bringing an orderly and filth less capital city. From the reports, it is revealing that not many Asaba residents would believe that the city could get the type of transformation now going on due to long years of entrenched environmental unscrupulousness of some people who are not in a hurry to adapt to the dynamics of a fast changing world.
Many people are now happy that the coming of Ada Anioma as the Director General of the DSCTDA, has put behind all disgusting sights made so on the streets of Asaba (over the years) by hawkers of all sorts of edibles and clothing materials including wheel barrow pushers who littered the place, making it very untidy.
The beautification project brought by Mrakpor is now becoming evident as many visitors to Asaba in contemporary time have cheery stories to tell if experiences they had about the city some few years ago were anything to go by. The city now has some semblance of what it should be in line with the Master Plan. With the completion of the construction work at the Olympic size stadium and its commissioning, upgrading of the Asaba International Airport facilities, expansion of some roads and construction of modern day round about beautified with flowers, no one is left in doubt of the great interest Okowa’s administration is showing in the uplifting of Asaba to an enviable capital city.
It is certainly with the same spirit that Hon. Mrakpor has brought her energy, expertise to bear in taking the city to a higher height within a year of assumption of office. Her interest is to see that Deltans have a state capital one can be proud of, in terms of environmental orderliness, cleanliness and progressive economic environment.
This is evident in the recent relocation of traders from the Old Abraka Market in the state capital to a new site known as Asaba Commodity Market which is now bubbling with activities as traders relocated from the old market are now counting their gains in the movement. The new market is fitted with modern conveniences, a police post, waste disposal system and so on. The new market has unarguably boosted businesses as the traders now operate in a spacious and conducive environment.
The new market is twice the old one in size and allocation of spaces is said to be free. Apart from the afore-mentioned facilities in the new market, other facilities such as internal security outfit, toilet and health care centre are also in place. Shops especially for groceries and related products have been provided by the government in strategic places at affordable rents. Some of the displaced persons particularly youths and vulnerable women have been engaged in direct skills acquisition programme with tools and funds provided.
With the zeal and commitment of Hon. Mrakpor to duty within one year in office as the Director-General of Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, and the glaring evidence of her achievement in terms of upgrading the environmental status of Asaba as capital city, one would readily agree that given such tenacity in the next three years of the Okowa administration, Asaba would have fully attained the status of a state capital with cosmopolitan appeal. Many cheers to Ada Anioma!
Courtesy of RAZORNEWS 2020.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.