Port Harcourt, the present capital of Rivers State , established due to the coal mining in Enugu as a gateway for exportation of coal. Funded by the Eastern regional government with coal money and Eastern taxes. Today, the city fondly called Igwe Ocha has evolved due to oil exploration. The city can be called today the oil capital of the country and a thriving city. But that is not all uhuru, also known as Garden City, there is no gardens about the city. It is all concrete and fumes no greens! The city isn’t looking at greenery, the city planners doesn’t have an eye for the sustainability of the environment via planting trees and creating green spaces , the city isn’t resilient unlike Enugu which is older and has continued to look green. Enugu has been identified as of the Nigerian cities that is resilient city globally.
I have been reflecting: Enugwu and Igweocha (Port Harcourt) are two cities whose strongest bases of urbanization and development were built by the Michael Okpara Administration in the early 60s. They were part of the cardinal points in Okpara’s development principle of Pragmatic Socialism. It is safe to say that the sprouted development of these cities in the erstwhile Eastern Region started with Okpara even though the colonialists administered them before Zik as the first premier.
But then, I look at the two cities—Enugwu and Igweocha (PH)—and I see one remaining resilient for another century and another on its journey to death by the time it’s a century old as a modern city. I look at the green life of Igweocha (PH) and I see a dying city joining the leagues of Timbuktu in Mali who are now referred to as “once flourishing city”. The water bodies? I do not even know what its life decline is like coupled with the climate change ear-jarring discourses around the world. The human life is in danger in the so-called garden city as long as it exists without some radically honest total environmental clean-up—especially of its air—soon. It’s fair to say that Igweocha (Port Harcourt) has existed as the oil-rich city for 60 years now beginning with the oil explorations of 1958.
Would the city survive the next 4 decades completing it to 100 years as it stands now?