By Uche Mbah
Reactions has been trailing the decision of Enugu state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to destroy some cultural heritage in the fight against herdsmen in the state, with a group, Awgu Youth Council, taking to letter writing to express their grievances.
Recall that in the wake of the death of a reverend father in Ihe, Awgu, and subsequent protests by priests, Ugwuanyi has been under pressure to take a non prevaricative stand on the issue of herdsmen in the state. Recently, he had visited Ihe, promising a military base and ordering the clearing of the bushes around a cave through which the herdsmen allegedly escapes.
Ihe also is having a University of Education built there.
Ugwuanyi also ordered the demolition of the caves around Agbogugu, where the traditional Ruler of Umuobom village was recently abducted.
In the recent altercation between herdsmen and Nenwe people in Aninri, Ugwuanyi was allegedly more interested in placating the Myetti Allah and playing the ostrich, pretending that all is well than frontally tackling the menace.
His order to demolish the traditional cultural heritage sparked mixed reactions with many outraged, particularly in the Social Media.
However, a group, Awgu Youth Council has written the governor, insisting that “Our heritage–both natural and cultural, ancient and modern–should be protected and preserved”*
Below is the full text of the message.
CONCERNING THE ORDER BY THE ENUGU STATE GOVERNOR TO DEMOLISH ALL CAVES IN AWGU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA IN ORDER TO OPTIMIZE SECURITY.
We the youth of Awgu LGA under the umbrella of the National Youth Council of Nigeria Awgu LG Chapter first of all wishes to appreciate the state governor H.E Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his efforts so far in maintaining the peace in Enugu State and for how he has always worked closely with Awgu LGA Chairman Hon Stanley Okeke, Rt Hon Toby Okechukwu and Awgu representatives in the State House of Assembly in responding to overwhelmingly desperate emergency situations facing Awgu LGA from his first term as governor till date. This we so much appreciate.
We also know that desperate situation needs desperate action and that the demolition order must have been in good faith considering the painful insecurity occurrences of the recent weeks which has left all of us in sorrow.
However; our opinion is that:
*”Our heritage–both natural and cultural, ancient and modern–should be protected and preserved”* especially now that we have new universities springing up in Awgu LGA(one by the state government and the other private) with more in view. So we plead with H.E the governor to reconsider this order and the security experts to devise another approach.
While growing up we heard interesting stories about these caves which we can’t mention here and it will not be good for the coming generation to hear that these beautiful gifts by nature were demolished because some enemies of the land choose them as hiding places.
According to UNWTO, tourism has grown at an accelerated pace over the last few decades, with more than a billion tourists now travelling to an international destination each year. One of the main motivations of tourism is mankind’s inherent curiosity and desire to explore cultural identities across the world. Natural and cultural heritage sites, including scenic landscapes and revitalized historic towns, are prized tourism assets that distinguish one destination from another.
We urge the state government to consider maximizing the inherent potentials of these cave sites as a revenue generating tourist attraction at this time the state is faced with dwindling federal revenue. Studies of tour operators and international tourists show that special-interest travel is booming and that the most popular special-interest tours are nature-oriented outdoor activities.
Instead of demolishing these caves, a well equipped Forest Guard/Security Outposts with well trained personnel should be erected close to these sites to forestall any nefarious activities around there. Access roads should be carved to these sites for easy movement. The government can adopt the tourism model of st kitts & Nevis, Cape Verde e.t.c.
We know we have an educated, clearheaded and listening governor(a fine quality), so we are very optimistic that he will consider the appeal of his people as we continue to support the efforts of H.E. in bringing a final end to insecurity in Awgu LGA.
Comr Chukwuemeka Uche
Comr Nweke Solomon Onyee
NYCN AWGU LG CHAPTER