Sunday Magazine

Lush City bringing back Igbos in the Diaspora

It was a crispy Saturday morning on August 1, Lawrence Kemdi, a renowned geologist of Igbo extraction, hovered at the balcony of his exquisite mansion located along the prestigious Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. At the centre of the sizeable balcony, stood a beautifully carved wooden table and an armchair. Kemdi pulled the chair to a comfortable position and lowered his lanky frame into its soft leather.


Just then, a neatly dressed steward walked in. Briskly, the steward displayed an array of stainless jugs, Coffey bottle, vessel bearing non-dairy milk, honey jar, hot water flask and a set of tea cup before his master. Leaning forward, Kemdi made for himself a cup of rich Coffey.


Intermittently, he took a sip from the steaming cup while fresh morning breeze from the nearby lagoon ran over his trim body. From that vintage position, Kemdi regarded the stream of traffic on Admiralty Way and exotic skyline of Lekki Phase 1.


His calm mien betrayed his love for the adorable ambience and peace which his affluent neighbourhood offers. He had actually spent most of his productive years living in cities and sophisticated environments.


Having spent over 23 years in America and Europe, he returned to Nigeria; and settled in Lagos to continue his rewarding career in a multinational oil firm. In the next two years, Kemdi will take a compulsory plunged into retirement. All along, he had planned to spend the evening hours of his life in his home town and among his kinsmen.


The thought of numerous challenges associated with going back to his remote village switched Kemdi’s pleasant countenance, Why did his mood change? He said: “Once in a while, I had spent annual vacations in my home town. But as good as it is to unwind amongst my kinsmen and enjoy the comfort of my family mansion; I always felt that an essential part of me is missing. Every day needs of life, which ordinarily are not far-fetched in urban settings, are not easily accessible in typical Southern Eastern villages.


There is also the issue of poor social amenities coupled with what I call local discomforts which includes home people or relations seeing a returnee as a threat,” he added. Then Kemdi picked up his cell phone from the Coffey table and dialled an estate agent’s number: “How much does a plot cost in that new estate – Lush City, Aba?” he asked.


Moments later, he instructed the person at the other end of the line: “Send your account details; I am paying for two units right away.” That was how Kemdi’s long held dream of retiring to his village and to his people was jettisoned.


Sunday Telegraph investigation revealed that Easterners living in the diaspora and those who relocate to their roots actually share the same frustrations. According to Justin Okenwa, a human resources professional: “This has increasingly become the greatest challenge of many urbane Easterners, especially retirees and those who wish to relocate to their roots for peculiar reasons


. I definitely prefer to live in a nearby city when I retire, and visit my village only to spend my weekends. It’s sure not good for me to start learning how to cope with challenges of life in a rural setting, in my old age. Not after several years of city life. “I have already bought a plot in Lush City Phase 2, Aba. It’s less than one hour’s drive to my home town; and I am glad I did.


This does not in any way diminish the fact that every Igbo man holds ownership of a befitting family house in his place of birth closely to heart,” Okenwa explained. He finds a soul mate in Akpan Ekere, from Ikot Ubo, Akwa Ibom State. “One shouldn’t gamble with life in retirement. That’s why I desire to spend my retirement within an organised estate,” Ekere said.


He disclosed that he has acquired a plot of land for his retirement comfort at Lush City Estate, Uyo. “Surely there’s no way I will miss the civilised life style I used to,” Akpan explained. Why exactly do Igbos and their south south neighbours find going back to their villages and living among their kinsmen an uphill task?


Property whiz kid and Managing Director of PWAN Plus, owners of Lush City by Cedarwood, Julius Oyedemi, explained that until there is a paradigms shift in house ownership patterns, many Easterners and South southerners living in cities, will continue to find it difficult to retire to their native homes.


“Our experimental estate in the commer- cial nerve centre of Abia State – Lush City Phase 1 Aba- witnessed a huge scramble. We actually sold out all plots within four weeks, Lush City Phase 2, Aba, is also fast selling out and third phase is loading. Interestingly, 90% of those who invested into Lush City exclusive estates are Igbo’s living in the diaspora.


“A good number of accomplished professionals living in different Nigerian cities, business people and politicians also joined in the scramble for Lush City,” Oyedemi disclosed. During a recent facility tour of Lush City Aba and Uyo, our correspondent found out that Lush City innovation in the South East and South South regions was carefully targeted at creating ideal environmental and orchestrating a change in the life style of the people.


“Our primary objective is to spark development in the region and enhance the lifestyle of the people positively. We want to clean up the streets, and have it filled with people of positive minds.


Lush City is a revolution intended to use real estate to improve South East South South, by planting cities,” Oyedemi said. He continued: “When you travel oversees you find out that even the way you talk, the way you dress, the malls and places you visit, everything you come in contact with is just attractive; and all these things contribute to your lifestyle.


“We want such environment in the South East and South South regions. Lagos and Abuja are already urban cities, with the vital contribution of the real estate sector. Several estates imply several developments.” Chief Okosisi Ochingwa, a dealer in stock fish in Ariaria Market, Aba said: “This is a welcome development.”


He observed that tremendous self-developmental projects and infrastructures are taking place around Osisioma area of Aba where Lush City Phase 1 is located. According to Ochingwa, the place was a virgin land when PWAN Plus arrived. “Now the place is growing fast.


People no longer call the location by its original name. They now call it Lush City. So Lush City has become a land mark. Also, the government of Abia State has begun to improve infrastructural development in the area,” Ochingwa said excitedly.


At the moment, PWAN Plus has replicated Lush City in Abia State, Imo State, Akwa-Ibom State while Cross River State and other neighbouring states are in the pipeline. The firm’s MD stressed that the initiative was careful created to rule the South East and South South real estate sector.


“Like the name implies, it is sprawling. Lush City is already established in Owerri, Imo State. We have Lush City phases 1, 2 and 3 in Aba, and Lush City Umuahia is loading.


The first phase of Lush City, Uyo Akwa-Ibom State is fast selling while plans to launch Calabar Lush City have reached an advanced stage. So it’s a revolution to spring up cities in this region, to turn things around so that the people here will embrace urban lifestyle,” he further explained. It is hoped that the initiative will accomplish a lot more in the regions.


“Precisely, the Lush City revolution will deliver the paradigm shift in the living environment of the people from a predominantly remote community to satellite towns adequately linked with social amenities so that someone who lives in Owerri can comfortably do business in Umuahia and return to his or her base the same day.


“Our plan is to use real estate to ignite development in the South East and South South. This will surely eliminate the dilemma our Igbo brothers who are desirous of relocating back to their village’s experience. As you can see, Lush City project is already to bringing back Igbos in the diaspora,” Oyedemi related.




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