By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Continued…..Click to read the first one!
Former President General, Chief Albert Ibe said that there was a lot government can do to help the community.
Chief Ibe’s words: “You can see our roads. We have pleaded with governor of the state some months ago to look at our roads and assist us in getting an accessible road. You can see that we are hold up somehow here. We have a road that can lead us to UNIZIk junction in few minutes before but now nobody passes through the road again because it is not good. We pleaded with his Excellency after his inauguration. This local government was the first of his visit when he visited for official inspection of the ongoing projects in Awka North. He made a promise then and now five years after, we are still on it. We still voted him during his bid for second tenure but we are still expecting him to fulfil his promises. We thank him for his 20 million naira community choose your project initiative but that is not the priority need of this community. Our priority need is accessible roads. Our bridge that linked us with Amanuke people just collapsed. We only made a timber wood with which we cross the big river. Anybody that sees the bridge will have the pity of the people in mind.
The Secretary-General of Ugbene town Union, Honourable Ibe Emmanuel on his own said that it has become a nightmare to the entire community that the only Ezu bridge which has been the link to other communities and only road that takes the people of the community to the local government headquarter collapsed 7 months but nothing has been done to repair it.
He disclosed that all efforts made to the state government, House of Assembly, Honourable commissioner for works and other relevant authorities under the direction of the president-General of the community to come to the community’s help yielded no response.
Meanwhile, the president-General of the community, Honourable Nwude Emmanuel said that all the complaints made to the government and other relevant authorities have received no response. He said that he has done what is required of him as the PG while he still wait for positive response from government towards the plight of his community.
Then, the tears as well touched the member representing Awka North Constituency, Chief John Nwokoye, who observed at the plenary of the state House of Assembly that Awka North roads are deplorable. He presented a motion urging Governor Obiano to direct the Commissioner of Works to complete the construction of Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Ugbene-Awba Ofemili road, with a spur to Omor-Omolum in Ayamelum LGA.
Hon Nwokoye emphasized that: ‘’for my Constituency to truly have a sense of belonging, serious attention must be given to basic infrastructural development, such as roads. We need access roads to improve on our Agricultural farm yields.
He emphasized on the need to declare a state of emergency in his Constituency. His colleagues supported the motion and a resolution was passed in that regards, but nothing has happened months after.
Even, the Speaker of the House, Right Hon Uche Okafor, assured that the executive arm of Government would do the needful, as it places high premium on good road network and read out the resolution while the lawmakers supported it through a voice vote.
As well, the Anambra State House of Assembly passed another resolution urging Governor Willie Obiano to direct the Commissioner for Works to complete the construction of Isuanaocha-Amanuke-Achalla road to alleviate the sufferings of the people as sponsored by the member representing Awka North Constituency, Chief John Nwokoye.
Chief Nwokoye lamented that since 2006, the Isuanaocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achalla road was awarded for construction, only nine kilometres of the road has been done, while the rest is still unattended to. He regretted that the road links the communities to the Awka North Local Government Secretariat but cannot be accessed due to the state of the road.
Some lawmakers including the member representing Aguata/Chairman, House Committee on Information and Culture, Mr Okechukwu Okoye, the member representing Orumba North Constituency, Chief Emeka Aforka and the member representing Oyi Constituency, Mr Charles Obimma joined in urging Governor Obiano to direct the construction firm handling the projects to expedite action on it to give the people Awka North a sense of belonging.
Even from different perspective, the House of Representatives member for Awka North/South Federal Constituency, Hon Engr Sam Onwuaso, had raised the alarm of a possible landslide in a primary school in Amansea in the Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Onwuaso had said if proactive measures were not taken, scores of pupils would be at risk from the looming disaster.
“The topography of the school environment is terrible and sinking, which may result in loss of lives if no urgent step is taken.
“I cannot afford to see pupils of the school or any member of the community being swallowed by landslide,” he stated.
He had pointed out that he had discussed with the people of the community and came up with ideas on how to tackle the challenge to avert calamity.
Onwuaso had added, “I have visited the site at the instance of members of the community. I will raise the issue as a matter of urgent importance on the floor of the National Assembly.
“We’ve checked, tested the soil and discovered it has to do with the underlying mud. It is so soft that vehicles can’t pass and the place is sinking.
“There’s a stream with a bridge within the school environment, which is risky for children moving around. I’ll bring it up as a motion on the floor of the National Assembly for immediate intervention, because we can’t afford to see our people being swallowed up alive by the ground.”
Unfortunately when the traditional rulers and Town Union Presidents General from Awka North petitioned the House alleging the recent teachers’ recruitment by UBEC had 26 non indigenes out of the 51 persons recruited, contrary to the intention of the State Government to recruit only indigenes in hard to reach areas like Awka North local government, their petition was dismissed.
Chairman Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions Honourable Emeka Aforka dismissed their petition without exhausting the list , saying that they discovered that of the twenty-six persons alleged to be non-indigenes, about twenty one persons that honoured the invitation were all indigenes of the local government area. What of the remaining 5? Are they? Why didn’t they come? What criteria confirmed them as indigenes when the Presidents General and traditional rulers said they were not? Was it merely, let’s see your identification letter or what?
Commissioner for Works Anambra state , Engr Marcel Ifejiofor reacts on collapsed bridge
On why Awka North was abandoned: Marcel Ifejiofor said Awka North was not completely abandoned because work is ongoing. He said the Bridge to Achalla through Urum and Amanuke is completed.
He said Governor Obiano directed that work starts immediately after the rains on Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbene-Ugbenu-Awba Ofemmili road. (Unbelievable! This was at the peak of dry season). He maintained that Awka North roads have not been abandoned as speculated adding that Awka North is a priority in line with Governor’s directive that roads go to places where there was none before.
He said internal roads in the Anambra state Polytechnic, Mgbakwu has been completed and soon other areas would be attended.
He reassured that the abutment at the collapsed Belly Bridge connecting Amanuke and Ugbene would be done. He equally said government has completed design of Abba-Nawgu-Isu Aniocha road, gone to tender remaining Executive approval, which will soon come to reality.
Recall that flood last year sacked the pupils of Ezigbo Primary School in Okukwa village, Ameasea, thus prevented over 650 students and their teachers from accessing their classrooms.
The school Head mistress, Mrs. Leticia Umeadi, appealed to the Anambra state ministry of environment and other related agencies to come to their rescue to enable them have access to classrooms.
Though, 7th assembly member representing Awka North, Hon. John Nwokoye was and still thinking of dedicating his salary in the House and even contributing personal resources to ameliorate some of the numerous challenges of Awka North people. The question is , was that part of his brief and even if it is, where would he start?
Nwokoye had said: “Awka-North has a capital in Achalla and almost all the communities in Awka-North cannot access their local government headquarters. Mgbakwu and Amanuke will move away from their various communities to traverse about five local government areas before they can access their local government headquarters in Achala. It is a very pathetic situation! There is nothing to celebrate in Awka-North. My people are predominantly farmers but there are no access roads to take their farm produce to the markets. The condition of my constituency calls for a state of emergency! Government should alleviate our sufferings and ameliorate our plight. We are begging Governor Willie Obiano to prevail on the commissioner for works to complete the construction of Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road.
“I wish to draw the attention of the governor to this very bad road. Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road was awarded by the former governor of old Anambra, Jim Nwobodo in 1979-1983. Up till today, the road has not been constructed. In 2006, former governor Peter Obi awarded that road again. Before Peter Obi, Dr. Chris Ngige re-awarded the road. Before Chris Ngige, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju re-awarded the road. Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road has been nicknamed campaign road by the people of Awka-North. This year marks the 13th year that road has been under construction. I hear people talking about rehabilitation of roads but Awka-North is still talking about construction of roads. This road is the only road that links the entire Awka-North to the local government headquarters Achala. Before someone from Mgbakwu, Oba-Ofemili, Amansea, Isuaniocha can access the council headquarters, which is about five minutes journey, you will go through Awka-South, Njikoka, Dunukofia, Oyi and Anambra-east local government areas before you get to Achala the headquarters of Awka-North local government area.
“Today, Awka-North is being relegated to the bottom pit of hell! I am ready to sacrifice my four years salaries so they can add it to the amount mapped out for the construction of Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road. That road is now a security threat because bandits use it as hideout. So we are begging Governor Willie Obiano to come to our rescue and make Awka-North part and parcel of Anambra state.”
By June 2018, Governor Willie Obiano had paid unscheduled visit at the Okpuno-Urum-Amanuke -Achalla Road project site, and directed immediate asphalting of the 15.9km road with 20m Bridge. But despite that and Mr Leo Okoye, Project Director’s promises, it is yet to be delivered.
The Obi – led administration awarded a contract to construct the 32 kilometre Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Ugbene-Awba Ofemili road to Brecco Nigeria Limited at the cost of N2.5 billion (two billion, five hundred million naira). The contract was later revised to N7,816,193,590 (seven billion, eight hundred and sixteen million, one hundred and ninety three thousand, five hundred and ninety naira).
The road was awarded on April 11, 2007 and flagged off on July 2, same year with a completion period of fifteen months. The collapse of Ezu Bridge hampered the progress of work By 2013, Peter Obi’s administration did 12.31 kilometres asphalted with N3,309,349,475 (three billion, three hundred and nine million, three hundred and forty eight thousand, four hundred and seventy five naira) paid to the contractor. The contractor, Brecco was to be paid N4,506,845,115 (four billion, five hundred and six million, eight hundred and forty five thousand, one hundred and fifteen naira). Engr Tony Madi of Tamad Construction later took over from his Boss, Brecco as the contractor. But, the road construction never progressed beyond Ebenebe, even with all the promises from Obiano led administration.
Peter Obi – led administration in 2013 awarded a contract for the construction of the 15.9 kilometre Okpuno-Urum-Amanuke-Achalla road alongside three other projects in the other parts of the state, at the cost of N1,604,29,466 (one billion, six hundred and four million, two hundred and ninety one thousand, four hundred and sixty six naira) with a completion period of twelve months.
The project, awarded to Grand Star Limited, was supposed to be delivered in April 2014. But a visit to the area revealed that work stopped on the road in August, 2015 while the contractor had left the site. The road had been asphalted up to Urum, and inched into Amanuke.
The chairman, Community Empowerment Network in Awka North, Mr Albert Chinwuko, spoke earlier with Premium Times on the cheating of Awka North with projects in what he termed lopsided budget.
Chinwuko had accused that a road leading from Awka to Achalla was awarded in the 2014 budget for seven times, with different names and amounts allocated to them. So we believe that government is marginalizing us because we don’t have somebody to come and talk for us. Even our political representatives, they are careless about it. They don’t even do anything about it. It is too bad of them. So I am saying that the problem is from the government as well”.
He had said further: “The 2014 and 2015 budgets, if you look at them, you discover that Awka North is rated so high in budget allocation, but when you come to implementation, you see that nothing is being implemented. Our code is being used in other locations in Awka South and other places. For instance, a road leading from Awka to Achalla was awarded in the 2014 budget for seven times, with different names and amounts allocated to them. So we believe that government is marginalizing us because we don’t have somebody to come and talk for us. Even our political representatives, they are careless about it. They don’t even do anything about it. It is too bad of them. So I am saying that the problem is from the government as well”. This confirms the views Chief Onwelukwue canvassed earlier.
A Permanent Secretary, in Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Umeobi Andrew Ubinwa, had punctured that claims with an explanation that no reasonable government would intentionally short-change any section in its jurisdiction.
The Perm Sec had said: “Poverty and backwardness are dependent on a number of factors. What government had done for the people, what the people have done for themselves? If you look at Anambra State, you find some communities and LGAs that have developed due to the activities of their people. Awka North is described as backward in the poverty map because of certain indicators such as: availability of health facilities, education, water and, of course, infrastructure were lacking.”
“And one of the follow ups to that survey was the award of contracts to refurbish health facilities, facilities in the education sector, boreholes are sunk, and drugs are supplied to their health facilities among other measures. The road projects in the local government are still on despite some constraints that government has. Government had been trying to see what it can do to complete those projects. Government will always intervene to provide environment to enable individuals, communities LGAs to move on. But not all LGAs can move at the same pace. Government is there for the people and in Anambra State we had decided to distribute projects across the Local government areas”. Yet since 2015 till date, nothing has changed.
Former chairman of Awka North local government, Cosmas Okonkwo, had denied the allegation of poor political representation in an interview with Purity Fm correspondent,Andrew Ajayi, adding that: “I don’t think it is so. The politicians that have served Awka North in the past, to the best of my knowledge, had done their best. The problem of Awka North mainly comes from the topography of the local government. If you check the story of Awka North, it is the same thing that happened in the Niger Delta that is happening here. In the Niger Delta, to construct a road will cost ten times of what will be used to construct a road in the states of the north. And to construct a road in Awka North will cost government about four times what they will use to construct a road in Agbenu areas. Why they call them Agbenu is because there is no water there. In Awka North, there is no particular road you can construct without bridges and they are not small bridges. So I think this a major factor that scares the state government from embarking on road projects in the area. But thank God that the Governor in this present administration is from Anambra north and has started tackling the problems of the northern people.” What a view of a political office holder as at the time he spoke?
Hon Boniface Okonkwo, former member representing Awka North constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly was accused of not standing for the communities in Awka North but for himself. This, he dismissed escribing them as baseless allegations. He had said he is worried over the situation of roads and infrastructure in communities in the local government area. But, for me he failed my expectation even those before him too failed in the litmus test of good leaders.
For Chief Dennis Ngene, former chairman of Awka North Local Government Area of the state, Governor Obiano betrayed the people of Awka North as he visited the area and promised to not only complete the 30- kilometre Amansea -Ebenebe–Ugbenu-Ugbene-Awba Ofemili road but extend it to Omor in Anambra East Local Government Area.
Chief Ngene had wondered why Obiano after he warmed himself into their hearts when he said that people of Awka North belong to Igbo Adagbe people just like his own people so that he will give them the sense of belonging, but till date , he did nothing.
He had said: “So, we sent a delegation to government to remind them of the road and they said work will commence during the dry season. Between then and now, tell me how many dry seasons have passed?
In line with what Onwelukwue said, Mr Albert Chinwuko from Urum had held the people responsible for their backwardness.
He had said: “I will say that why Awka North is in this mess is that we are the problems of ourselves, we Awka North indigenes. In the sense that the attitude of the people is too bad that nobody is ready to go and talk or plead our case. I believe that it is only when you come out and tell the government what you need that it will come to your aid. Part of Awka North land especially in Amansea is being used by the government both Federal and State government but we are not getting anything from it”.
And I ask, why should hamlets in Anaocha, Idemmili, Ihiala, Ayamelum, Anambra West and Anambra East, Awka South among others have tarred roads yet Awka North cannot be connected by road or sea to its neighbours. Awka North is close to Ezeagu in Enugu state through Ebenebe and close to Aguleri in Anambra East through Awba Offemili yet no roads to connect them and decongest the cities. What a shame to Obiano’s administration! So many promises, yet nothing much on ground in Awka North but propaganda.
There is nothing to show in Awka North for Obiano’s 6 years in office. Former Governor Peter Obi in the spirit of continuity handed him over the Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbene-Ugbenu with a spur to Awba-Ofemmili road but he did not drop a tipper of sand there till date. The road has been abandoned and the people are in agony.
The same happened to Okpuno-Isu Aniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achalla road as well as Okpuno-Isu Aniocha-Mgbakwu-Purity Fm-Ebenebe road and Okpuno-Isu Aniocha-Urum-Amanuke road. The Amanuke axis got a touch but yet to be completed. The roads from Mgbakwu to Ebenebe and Isu Aniocha through Urum to Amanuke are death traps, yet we have a Governor claiming hundreds of kilometres in road construction, but nothing in Awka North which most of its communities are in the capital territory.
There are ten communities in Awka North—Amanuke, Achalla, Urum, Isu-Aniocha and Mgbakwu. Others are Amansea, Ebenebe, Awba-Offemmili , Ugbene and Ugbenu, yet there is no completed road criss-crossing the ten communities tarred whereas all the communities are interconnected at various points. If we want to go to Awka north local government area, we go through four to five local government areas depending, even when Awka North communities are almost in Anambra capital territory.
There is total decay of infrastructure mostly constructed by communities like one of the biggest general hospitals in Anambra, General Hospital Amanuke built in the 80’s. And only recently with community choose your project, though laudable but poorly executed and sited by some communities. This is not Obiano’s fault though lack of supervision could result to that.
During the rainy season, pains and agony best described the journey through any of the roads in Awka North yet to be tarred whereas in this dry season, it is hellish as the dust on the road is indescribable. Now Ezu suspended Bridge rebuilt by the army has collapsed at Ugbene and communities severed particularly at Amanuke end.
The Anambra State Polytechnic at Mgbakwu has been neglected and abandoned until recently it got accreditation for the first time. It has nothing to show as a state owned tertiary institution until recently, the Obiano government embarked on some projects there, even though some of his aides are perpetrating evil in the name of training youths there. Why should a Provost of a College be under the Commissioner and Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Agriculture and must obtain permission from them daily for every action? I don’t know the position now it has undergone accreditation but before the accreditation as a Polytechnic, things remained hazy. How many Awka North people are in that Polytechnic as staff? Is Awka North represented at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe recent employment as well as key appointment in the government?
Marcel Ifejiofor, the Anambra State Commissioner of Works, by March last year had said that the Governor Willie Obiano led administration has executed 80 roads across the three senatorial districts of the state since he assumed office five years ago. Ifejiofor said the roads were part of the 200 active road sites across the three senatorial districts, yet none is completed in Awka North.
But why should Mgabkwu-Ebenebe road not go through? Why should Amanuke-Ugbene road not go through? Why should the people of Awka North be always subjected to hardship and suffering? Please, Obiano Awka North is thanking you for the ones you did but needed your intervention now than ever. Thank you my Governor!
Cornucopia is a weekly column of Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD. Odogwu, a culture and tradition aficionado and a foodie is a known Journalist, Editor, Media Consultant and famous Blogger, as well as Social Media Entrepreneur, publisher and Conversationalist @ www.odogwublog.com among others.
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