#BounceExclusive: Why You May Want To Move From Lagos To Abia
Perhaps the saying is true that the more you look, the less you see.
If you have lived in Lagos for most part of your adolescence and adult years, you woukd wonder why anyone would advise you to relocate to Abia.
"Abia Ke! of all the states in the federation why Abia?"
Bounce News correspondent, Obidike Okafor did some analysis of a report published by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics on annual crime rates recorded across the 36 states of the federation.
The Centre of Excellence recorded 45,385 cases of criminal related offences. This put Lagos firmly in the lead when it comes to number of crimes committed and the types of crimes recorded.
Criminal operating in Lagos raped and stole the most in Nigeria, and have a habit of failing to pay their taxes even with the consistent drive by state authorities.
However, Gombe beat Lagos to receive the top prize for illegal arms deals in the country. This may be related to the ongoing battle in the North-East where the dread Boko Haram sect has unleashed unimaginable terror.
At the other end of the spectrum, Abia was the second lowest in terms of crimes recorded in Nigeria with a mere 364 criminal cases in 2016, after Katsina state.
But how did the South-east fare in these issues of security.
Abia comes out as the 'safest' place to live and do business in Eastern Nigeria, but men from the underworld in Anambra committed the highest offences recorded across the River Niger.
A security expert, Dogulas Iyi Eweka points out that a state where the youths in a community are not gainfully engaged by companies located within their environment, or due to the difficult terrain of doing business cannot channel their entrepreneurship skills towards self development.
Charles Otu a Newspaper Publisher residing in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, who was once kidnapped in Ebonyi is pained by the poor level of security in his state and in other parts of the region.
“The state is not safe, I have been kidnapped. The rate of crime is going up, and it all started in January when they kidnapped a woman, but still killed her even after collecting ransom.
"A lot of the young people here are turning to crime because the government is collecting too much tax, and businesses are shutting down. Some of them have left and moved to Enugu” he said.
Abia state on its on part has latched on to the ‘Made-In Aba’ movement and has found various ways to take positive advantage of its location and entrepreneurial youth.
The Abia State government on October 1, last year launched an e-commerce site, madeinaba.com.ng. The initiative ensures locally made products are strategically retailed across the country.
The website includes an online retail store and directions to physical stores where wholesale and retail services are offered.
In 2015, members of the Leather Products Manufacturers Association (LEPMAS) in Abia State received a loan worth N10.4 million from the Bank of Agriculture, while the Ford Foundation sponsored a documentary on the 'Made In Aba' craze.
However, Abia is not an island. The land-locked state still suffers the impact of poor infrastructure that has plagued most local manufacturers in the country. No roads, no light, no security, simply translates to no gain compared to those who import materials from Asia - Made in China specifically.
No Perfect Haven
“Abia state despite all the opportunities is a backward state, the crime rate is increasing incidences of kidnappings and robbery is rising, a lot of people are leaving the state, because the environment to do business is not conducive and nothing has been done for the past 8 years.
“There is only one road to enter into Aba, and it is in a total mess, and heaps of rubbish scattered add to the ugliness of all of these things. People now have to go to Onitsha to do business, even the road that the governor started fixing when he entered 2 years ago is not ready. All this has been happening because Ikpeazu has been distracted by the case of him being the governor of the state, so nobody is coming to our rescue”.
This is according to Ugwumba Okafor, a businessman who has lived in Aba for over 20 years. He spoke exclusively to Bounce News.
Despite the glowing report from the NBS, the President of the Association of International Traders, Otems Ema while commenting in a recent report described the problems of the popular Ariria Market in Aba.
He seems to validate what Ugwumba's claims.
“The Aba end of Port Harcourt where our containers come from is very bad. Most times, the containers fall on the road. Again, before you lift a container in Onne Port, you have to pay about N200,000 to bring a crane, that’s after you must have paid at the port.
"Even if you try to take the expressway, the Ariaria road is very bad. At the same time, you have to pay labour to carry those goods to your warehouse. The environment is not very conducive”.
In trying to tackle the issues of insecurity in the region, Dogulas Iyi Eweka suggests;
“To safeguard lives and property, for communities and cities armed policemen should be deployed to patrol strategic parts of cities and other parts of the state, because the presence of law enforcement puts the mind of the public at ease.
“Also the state should consider investing in CCTV cameras to be placed in various parts of the state, and organizing regular town hall meetings to sensitize the public on security issues is very important”
To state authorities we say - provide infrastructure and adequate security; leverage on the federal government's ease of doing business policy and leave the rest to Nigerians - they know what to do!