Begging for Attention

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Neglected Nnaji Park
Neglected Nnaji Park

Amusement parks, which used to be the centres of attention in Enugu State, are now a shadow of themselves

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 17, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

AMUSEMENT park is meant for relaxation and recreation. But the amusement parks in Enugu which were centres of attraction in the state in the 1980s and 1990s have lost their relevance due to negligence. Some residents of the state have blamed government for the sudden disappearance of the parks. They said it was the lack of a maintenance culture on the part of government that has led to the disappearance and misuse of the parks.

Some of the residents told Realnews that government intentionally allowed the parks to disappear so that it could sell them out to fronts at give-away prices. They blamed the government for allowing the parks to be turned into market places, mechanic workshops and worship centres. Mathias Diugwu, a retired civil servant in Enugu, said the parks started disappearing when government refused to maintain them. According to Diugwu, the parks were a source of joy and happiness to the people of the state.

“The parks in Enugu started disappearing immediately we entered into democratic governance in 1999. Then, the beauty of Enugu which prides itself as the “Coal City State,” was reflected in its parks, the zoo and the coal mining. These were a source of joy to many people of the state. But government neglected all these and even sold some of them. Nobody is saying anything about the conversion of some of the parks into churches, markets and even mechanic workshops. What government was busy doing was selling out the parks to make money,” he said.

Sullivan Chime
Sullivan Chime

Ngozi Okpe, a resident of the state, also blamed the disappearance of the parks especially Polo Park on government’s failure to care for its citizens and those who voted it into power. “Some of us feed our families through the petty business we were doing in the parks before their demolition, but government forced us out without compensation and now it wants us to patronise the shopping mall. What you can see in Enugu, today are hotels and beer parlours in all parts of the state. Some of these hotels and beer pallours still belong to top government officials and politicians in Enugu,” she said.

But Cyril Ugwu, senior civil servant in the ministry of tourism Enugu, said the parks were still there for the people to use but the fact was that government neglected them and the people turned them into market places, worship centres and even mechanic workshops. He said the government was working to reposition the parks and that Polo Park was a typical example of government’s plan in that regard. “What happened to parks in Enugu was a total negligence of the former democratic administration in Enugu. Most of these parks had been turned into worship centres, mechanic workshops and market places, apart from the Polo Park which government has turned into a shopping mall. Presently, the government is working to partner with private investors to reposition the parks,” he said.

He explained that the government has developed new guidelines for the development of parks in the state. Joe Mamel, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, announced recently that all parks in the state must run their activities at 70 per cent recreation and 30 per cent for economic. The new policy guideline has been approved by the executive council of the state.

Ugwu said the ministry had recovered some of the parks and called for private-public partnership for their development. Some of the parks recovered include Nwodo Park, Osadebe Park, Ejindu Park, Nnaji Park and Murtala Mohammed Park. Besides, the government has concluded plans to set up international amusement parks in the state in collaboration with a U.S.-based development firm in order to make Enugu a destination point for tourism in the country.

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