Sunday, 22 September 2013

UCCDA: A tool for destruction or change? BY PRISCILLA CHRISTOPHER

The Uyo Capital City Development Authority, being a part of the uncommon transformation machinery of the incumbent government has really proven to be a worthy tool for the restoration of the lost glory of the state’s capital and the state as a whole.

Sequel to the need to keep to her promise, the incumbent government saw it fit to exist as a paramount device that would fast-track her implementation strategies and awaken the hope of the citizens; thereby giving them a strong conviction that the promises are on the road to fulfillment.

In justification to its existence, the UCCDA has been at the fore of bringing down structural obstacles and hindrances to the above mentioned goal to the delight of the government and the detriment of the citizens.

It is true that pre-information is often given before the vandalization of people’s properties and valuables but the time span from the issuance of this notice to its expiration which comes with the destruction of such properties is never considered. 

Perhaps, the government does not know that the present economy is not in favour of a greater percentage of the nation’s population where a house owner is rated to be fulfilled by owning a house no matter how small. Ironically, these set of people happen to be victims of the UCCDA’s attack. Although, one may argue that compensation for the loss will be made but, the reverse is mostly the case; people lose both property and the ability to hope for the acquirement of another one. This absurdity calls for an answer to the question “Is the UCCDA a tool for change or destruction? Are those marked lands outside the capital metropolis for construction too? Is somebody on a revenge mission? 

The fact that the agents of UCCDA are personalizing their work objective is obviously glaring in communities where plans for renovation has not been breathed and those who can perceive well will smell that this deal is becoming more political than infrastructural.

Before further digression, what modalities has the government kept in place to ensure that citizens whose places of income generation has been demolished do not need to start all over? (Especially small-scale businesses). And what motivation is the government planning to give to those whose businesses has been reduced from a chain-mega store to a mini-room?

This readily tells why the poor are getting poorer and the rich, richer. I daresay that the government has not dealt well with the poor by depriving them an opportunity to be self-employed and making them underemployed or totally unemployed in the working economy. A poor man’s work opportunity is so limited by qualification and experience that he is made to take what he sees without a choice. There is no hope for them in rural areas, and so they drift into the big cities because their chances of finding some work appear to be greater there than in the village. After settling down, the unexpected happens. The UCCDA attacks and they are back to where they began.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the American Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal’, he according to John Coghlan, was not seeking to describe man’s endowments, but their political and legal rights. We must however ask of what real value are political and legal equality to a man who has no bread to eat, no clothes to wear, no roof to shelter him or a chance to earn a livelihood. A democratic society according to John Coghlan must provide for its citizen’s maximum status as a member of that society, that keeps him from becoming a beggar, outcast or outlaw and that offers him some protection in his deprivation, losses and fears. Short of this, the government again, I say has failed in its obligation.

This is not to say that the government is wrong in its bid to transform the state into a mega-city; it is a call on the government to put the poor into consideration each time they send out the UCCDA on their distinctive mission.
The well-being of the citizens should not be downplayed at the altar of infrastructural development which would not compensate the victims. They should rather provide alternative measures if there is no other choice but destruction after all, the essence of the projects would be defeated if the users do not appreciate it.

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