By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
After ASA-USA members visit to Anambra state in 2015 , I encountered a London based Associate Pastor in Prayer City, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) London, Gabriel Bright Dumaka. We had an in-depth conversation on every subject matter affecting our dear State including politics and my desire to run for governorship position blossomed but for lack of fund. He was highly impressed by my personality, contributions and deep understanding of our dear state. We struck a relationship.
No doubt that friendship blossomed over time that when he delivered a lecture during one of ASA-USA outings tagged, ‘Returns on Investment in early years Education in Nigeria’, I ensured it got generous media mention in several newspapers and online platforms at a time online was still emerging. An illustrious son of Anambra State, Dumaka is a brother to Dr Uju Okeke who served both Peter Obi and Obiano’s government.
At the time, I was blogging with blogspot. You can Google, ‘London Based ASA-World member Gabriel Bright Dumaka from Nri Speaking in Anambra” to see his paper. Regrettably, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah’s Authority Newspaper’s arrears of salary brought our relationship to an abrupt end. It’s a story for another day.
So, when some politicians from Anambra South Senatorial zone began to debate on the possible emergence of a Deputy Governorship from Awka North; in line with my suggestion in one of my previous articles, the question was no longer whether it was politically correct but who will better fit the position. My argument in favour of the Anambra North was anchored on the fact that other local government areas in Anambra Central have one thing or the other now to show, Awka North has nothingness.
Though I considered myself ably qualified for that post; having served our state in different capacities including former Supervisor for Education, Deputy Chairman of Awka North local government among several offices in the society with over 20 years in the media; I suggested a hundred and one person capable hands with Pedigree from Awka North that would perfectly fit the position.
Some of these men who have distinguished themselves in their different callings include Chief Chikodi Anarah (Igbakaigba), Special Adviser on Security to Governor Willie Obiano; member Representing Awka North in the state House of Assembly,Hon John Nwokoye, incumbent local government Chairman of Awka North, Hon Ferdinand Onwuje , former House member Hon Rebecca Udoji , a woman of many parts and Ambassador Aaron Onwelukwue , Owelle Ugbene,JP, Ozo Emetumba Afudike.
Others are Rt. Hon. Kenneth Enemuo, former Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly and a former Commissioner for Lands ; Prof. Innocent Okoye, a medical cardiologist with COOUTH; Chief Dennis Ngene (Ikenga-Ebenebe), a former elected local government chairman; Hon. Nnamdi Mekoh, former Commissioner for Agriculture; Hon. Emmanuel Uchieze, a former House of Representatives member and Dr. Emmanuel Nwokoye (Ochoudo-Achalla), a medical doctor and CEO of Nadrems. Also in the list are Chief Fidelis Nweke (Ide-Ugbene), a notable industrialist; Hon. Kenneth Arinze, a former Commissioner for Trade and Commerce; Hon. Boniface Okonkwo (Owelle Amansea), a two term House of Assembly member; Comrade ThankGod Anago Ph.D (Okenwa), a former SUG President of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Youth Leader; Chief Shedrack Anakwue (Oronukwu), a former elected local government Chairman, elected Speaker of Awka North Legislative arm and Chief Hon Fabian Ekweazu, a reputed bank Executive and appointee of Obiano among others. There are so many Distinguished women I couldn’t name now.
The level of neglect and marginalisation of Awka North in terms of infrastructure development, political appointments cum engagements and sitting of government agencies amongst others can better be experienced than imagined. While former Governor Peter Obi appointed an Awka North indigene a commissioner three years after assuming duties as Governor of Anambra state, the incumbent Chief Willie Obiano didn’t perform better, even when Awka North is in Igbo Adaogbe where the governor hails from. This neglect becomes more worrisome despite the overwhelming support and loyalty of Awka North people to the ruling party in the state, with the incumbent government of Chief Willie Obiano being the highest beneficiary of such support. No Awka North Indigene is a Permanent Secretary in the state Civil service where other local government areas are having in abundance.
At it stands, other local government areas like Dunukofia, Awka South and Onitsha North, have at least two Commissioners in Obiano’s government. The question that begs for an answer is : Why is it that Awka North Local Government Area have not had a commissioner in the last six years of the Willie Obiano’s administration? Appointment into local government areas appears like foisting people on the people even as it has been turned to religious patronage. The marginalization in infrastructure, social amenities and political engagements/appointments is unimaginable!
Lack of access roads within Awka North Local Government Area is a big challenge. The situation becomes worst during rainy season as it becomes very difficult for farmers to evacuate their agricultural produce to the markets.
The gigantic two storey General Hospital built and handed over to government by Amanuke people in the 80’s has been abandoned with lizards and reptiles making it their permanent abode.
It is a shame that the first road flagged off by the Governor Willie Obiano administration in June, 2014 shortly after asuming office, Ugbenu-Ugbene and Awba Ofemmili portion of the Amansea – Awba Ofemmili road, seven years after, is still at the stage the Obiano government met it.
Awka North Local Government Area was created in 1991 alongside the new Anambra State, the Local Government Area unlike her sister Local Government Awka South is abandoned even when it’s the food basket of the state with huge agricultural potentials. What a sad commentary!
Made up ten communities, nine of them including Awba Ofemmili, Ugbene, Ugbenu, Ebenebe, Amansea, Mgbakwu, Isu-Aniocha, Urum and Amanuke pass through several towns in four other local governments areas of Awka South, Njikoka, Dunukofia, and Anambra East to access Achalla, the Awka North Local Government Area headquarters as a result of no access road within other Communities in Awka North to the council area. This aberration has remained so till date.
Jesse Jackson said and I quote, “inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth”.
Is it deliberate to frustrate Awka North people and deny them development? Can’t Awka North be given a sense of belonging in the areas of infrastructure, social amenities and strong political patronage/appointments?
Why can’t General Hospital Amanuke be functional to serve the people?
Can the completion of the abandoned roads in Awka North including the Isu-Aniocha-Amanuke-Achalla road ; Isu-Aniocha-Urum-Amanuke even to Ugbene and the Amansea-Ebenebe- Ugbene-Ugbenu road with a spur to Awba Ofemmili road as well as Isu-Aniocha-Mgbakwu – Ebenebe road. Obiano even promised to build a bridge across Omambala/Ezu River through Awba Ofemmili to Ayamelum. So many promises but no action.
Why can’t Obiano appoint an Awka North indigene as a commissioner immediately. The Amansea-Ndiukwuenu- Okpeze-Awgbu road and Amansea-Ndiukwuenu-Okpeze-Ufuma roads are better legacy projects than the international press centre that has become an attraction, when Prof Dora Akunyili women Development center Awka , a multi purpose conference center exists with a mini stadium still uncompleted.
These quantum neglect and other reasons formed my agitation for a Deputy Governorship candidate to be nominated from the local government area by all the political parties in this 2021 Governorship Election to assuage the people after long years of marginalization.
We have politicians, technocrats and industrialists who are eminently qualified to serve in such capacity.
Let me end on this quote by Richard John Neuhaus which captured the solution of the problem of Awka North:
“If the cause of poverty is marginalization, the cure is inclusion”. Awka North should be included in governance of the state.
Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD is a Conversationalist , Journalist ,Editor and Blogger @ www.odogwublog.com
He can be reached on 08060750240
Email: [email protected]