Owerri the capital city of Imo state in eastern Nigeria once herald for it’s beautiful scenery which do attract both educationists and tourists may have become a danger zone nowadays.
Owerri and it’s out sketch towns alone has 5 major Tertiary Institutions and 2 world class libraries that has made the city a research centre for so many educationists around the world.
Owerri may not have lots of natural attractions apart from Palm Beach Awomamma, Confluence of two river at Oguta lake resort, monkey village at Ovim Okigwe etc.
The real attraction is the hospitality of the people. There is a saying that visitors do not go after they have been pampered by Owerri women. Traders as well as Oil workers from Onitsha and Port Harcourt always flood Owerri each weekend. And as many more as the hotels in Owerri, rooms still get booked up each Friday night.
Hotels and restaurants are the only flourishing industry in Owerri. Owerri is known as “a jolly city.” The traders from Onitsha usually say “if you could give Owerri man Ugba (Oil bean salad) to eat and give him Palm wine to drink, let the rich keep getting rich; he will not be worried.”
Today, Owerri city is such a horrible place to even spend a night. You could not be guaranteed that you will not be held hostage by some youths and an outrageous ransom demanded.
Kidnapping has become a viable trade in Owerri. Many youths are resorting to the crime as a money making venture. No other business in Owerri pays such huge amount of money as kidnapping pays. Well, that is what a particular young man told me.
There is no job. No industries where youths could go and have gainful employment after long years of graduation. Government has put embargo on employment into Parastatals. There is no enabling environment for self employment. Young men and women keep roaming about the streets and living in penury. Kidnapping idea just came up from a survival instinct. Now, it is flourishing and has de-faced the beauty of Owerri city.
We could save the youths! We could get them out of crime! We could save Owerri city from this menace! Some say Owerri youths are just too lazy. They do not want to work. I don’t think so.
Owerri people have their own kind of work. They may not be traders. Owerri is known for developing musicians and football players. It has a great reservoir of football talents. In fact, Owerri is the training ground for world class football players in Nigeria.
You need to see the young boys play at Uzii Layout primary school or Township School Owerri. You need to see some top schools like Holy Ghost College and Emmanuel College Owerri turn out great football talents.
Owerri has a great football tradition. The city has 2 stadium at Tetilow Street and wethedral road. They have a Nigeria premiership Club now called Heartland FC. They also have a giant killer club called the Aruogu Boys, who usually cause up set in Nigeria challenge cup competitions. Then, Nwankwo Kanu’s football academy called Papilo FC etc.
Many football stars have been raised in Owerri for the National team. Nwankwo Kanu one of the greatest football star ever to come out of Nigeria was trained in Owerri.
Ex-Internationals, Uche Okafor, Ben Iruoha, Lawrence Ukaegbu, Sam Oparanozie aka Bahama, Moby Oparaku, Chiedo Chukwueke aka Computer, Ogbonna Kanu and now “little Messi” Stanley Okoro were all trained in Owerri.
There is many other “Nwankwo Kanu” wasting away in Owerri. Most of them had to drop football for kidnapping trade just to survive. We must do something for the football talents in Owerri.
The true rational why you must do something is, when you help a football player in Owerri, the player will help his friends or brothers. Therefore, you are taking the youths out of poverty and crime. You are helping Owerri regain it’s attractions for tourist and holiday people.