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Apa-Agila is a boundary community with Enugu and Ebonyi States. It has one terminal access road from Oturkpo, the heart of Idomaland. This only road has been in a deplorable state for so many years now.
The road, initiated and commissioned by Gov Aper Aku of the then National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1981, is severely eroded and highly degraded with deep gullies and potholes which has become death traps that has consumed countless lives and brought about untold hardship to the people.
Successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 have neglected and forgotten the Agila people. First, it was Gov. George Akume, whom the people voted overwhelmingly with high hopes. He saw the predicaments but tactically closed his eyes to it. All his promises ended up as campaign rhetorics.
Then came Gov Gabriel Suswan who beat his chest and told the people to weep no more, their sufferings are over. The people rejoiced and thank God for sending forth a messiah. Suswan commissioned a contractor to commence work from the Oturkpo axis. The people waited, hoping and praying for the completion of the project. Sadly, work ended at the Local Government secretariat in Igumale, about 30km to Agila. All hopes dashed, the wait and prayers were in vain, and the people were again left with pains and sorrows.
It was for this reason that Agila people praised Gov Samuel Ortom led government to high heavens when Ede Ogaba Ede, Media spokesman to the Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abonu, reported on his facebook page the award of the Igumale-Apa-Agila road to Rock Bridge Construction Nig. Ltd for immediate rehabilitation. Alas, it’s been 5 months since then and nothing has changed. The rains are here again and the contractor has not mobilize to site.
What crime has Agila people committed to justify this painful neglect by the government, past and present? A people that are genuinely loyal and pay taxes diligently to the respective authorities as at when due. A community whose sons and daughters contributed so much to the service to fatherland, and are still serving in various capacities at state and federal levels, should not be allowed to suffer miserable neglect and chronic penury.
Perhaps it could be a predetermined plan to obliterate the Agila people. You don’t need a rocket science to know that a community that cannot be accessed for too long a period will eventually lose its identity and relevance. How else can one explain the conspicuous non existent of government presence since the Aper Aku’s government between 1979/83 (at least, they constructed the only road that is now comatose).
The people suffered perennial guinea worm disease year in, year out due to lack of clean drinking water. The only semblance of water project in the community was a 200 litres steel container suspended overhead on a 4-legged iron frame at Ozovu-Otokilo, initiated by the Gen. Babangida’s DEFRI in 1987 or thereabout. And that was the end of the project. The only liquid substance it ever behold was the morning dews and seasonal rains.
Access to hospital is a luxury. The main health facility in the village is a single block of 3 rooms dispensary which preceded the 2nd republic. The last time it served any meaningful purpose was a little over 3 decades ago. Ever after, it is worst than a mere patient store with no drugs and qualified health officers who are capable in the true sense of the word. Other few makeshift clinics littered the hamlets but none are equipped to function optimally.
The most painful of all is the state of insecurity that engulfed the community as a result of occasional Fulani herdsmen attacks and perennial communal boundary clashes with the Ngbo neighbouring communities of Enugu and Ebonyi states. These incessant tussles disrupted farming activities of the people who are predominantly farmers. The successive governments in the State did little or nothing to address the conflict that become a permanent threat to peaceful coexistence. A situation that brought acute famine and hardship to the people.
The neglect of the Agila people is wholistic as evident in government refusal to provide good drinking water, hospitals, and security. The bar of neglect was raised higher with the continuous deliberate choice to ignore the only accessible road. This government action has paralysed trading activities and the movement of people. This deliberate act of irresponsibility by government is why I considered it a predetermined plan to exterminate the Agila people.
Gov Samuel Ortom has spent 2 years into his tenor and his government has been in the news of recent for all the wrong reasons. Ortom must dig deep to reverse the negative perceptions of his government. The right thing to do is the live up-to his responsibility of providing security and welfare for citizens of the State.
Agila sons and daughters that have the ears of the Governor should prevail on him to release the required funds for the rehabilitation of the Apa-Agila road and other infrastructures. Agila has suffered too much neglect. It’s high time government upheld the sanctity of the oath of office for the common good.
Ikese is a columnist with thenigerian.news online