..set to recruit 1000 youths
The Enugu State government yesterday took a major step towards protecting and exploiting the Iron smelting site discovered at Otobo Ugwudinoke, Lejja, Nsukka Local Government Area of the state.
Briefing newsmen after a presentation made to the State Executive Council by an Associate Professor in Department of Archaeology, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Dr. Pamela Eze-Uzomaka, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Rita Mbah disclosed that the Lejja Iron smelting site is “one of the oldest in the world, which dates back to about 2000 BC”.
Hon. Mbah stated the Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration is passionate, committed and delighted at the revelation made by Dr. Eze-Uzomaka, who she said has been carrying out research on the site.
The Culture and Tourism Commissioner announced that the council has in a quick response to the presentation, set up a 3-man committee that would visit the site and devise the best means of protecting it “as a world heritage centre”.
She added that the state government intends to construct the road leading the site to be able to exploit its natural contents as “a tourism site and money spinning venture”, stressing that a lot of other benefits are accruable from it.
Also speaking, the Associate Professor told newsmen that she was at the EXCO meeting with her team to brief the state government on the outcome of their findings, saying that they “were able to get over 40 nationals from about 18 countries of the world to come and help us excavate Lejja site”.
Dr. Eze-Uzomaka disclosed that one of their findings was “radio carbon dates”, which according to her places the Lejja as one of the oldest Iron smelting sites in the world.
“This discovery means that Enugu State has one of the oldest iron smelting sites in the world and this site is being visited by so many countries of the world. I have travelled to some parts of the world, giving lectures about these sites and yet our people do not know about what they have.
“So we have come here to tell the Government of Enugu State that we have something here in Enugu State worth protecting, because people are coming from all over the world to visit this site.
While appreciating the commitment of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration towards the project, she also called for the collaboration of the state government with the National Commission for Museum and Monument and the Tourism board for the protection of the area as a world recognized tourism site.
Similarly, the Commissioner for Environment, Amb. Fidel Ayogu, also told newsmen that the council approved the rehabilitation of the popular Murtala Muhammed Park – a triangular piece of land at New Market, Enugu – to beautify, preserve and make it a standard recreational venture that will be a centre of attraction for those entering into the city of Enugu through Milliken Hill or New Market road.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe, stated that the council was updated by the Coordinator of Enugu Clean Team Project in respect of the ongoing engagement exercise of 1000 youths to clean up the state, disclosing that before long “Enugu will become if not the cleanest state in Nigeria”.
Mr. Anikwe added that the council approved funds for the upgrade of the Enugu State Emergency Call Centre for greater service to the people especially in time of emergency.
He equally told newsmen that the council approved funds for the renovation of the dilapidated building where the Enugu State Archives was relocated for effective service delivery.