BY PETER OKUTU, Abakaliki
WHEN stories about lack of infrastructural facilities in most communities in Nigeria are made public through the media, some misguided politicians often believe that such reports are sponsored by their political opponents to undermine them.
The discovery of Okpuma in Amangwu community in Edda East Development Centre of Afikpo South local government area of Ebonyi State has not only revealed the pitiable condition of rural dwellers, but also the need for the Federal Government to sustain the existence of the third tier system of government in the country.
Until recently, nobody knew that the people of Okpuma in Amangwu community in Edda East Development Centre had never enjoyed public power supply since their community came into existence. But the story changed when Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State appointed Mr Kenneth Eseni as the Coordinator of the development centre in the area.
Mr Eseni who is a journalist and former General Manager in charge of South East operations of Daar Communications Plc, operators of Africa Independent Television, AIT, Raypower and Daarsat, is of the school of thought that developmental initiatives and provision of infrastructural facilities should not be concentrated in a particular geographical zone but rather allowed to spread evenly across all nooks and crannies of the state.
According to investigations by Vanguard Metro, VM, the community had suffered repeated marginalisations in the hands of previous administrations who were only interested in their votes during electioneering campaigns rather than actualising their campaign promises.
In a chat with VM, Mr. Eseni who stated that the council approved the sum of N9 million for electrification project, stressed that arrangements were being made for the people of Okpuma in Amangwu community to get public power supply in the area as the contractor handling the project has assured of not only completing the electrification project on time but also promised steady power supply in the area within the first week in the month March, 2014.
”This community never had electricity since the creation of the world. They have never had light all through their history; since the creation of humanity, this community has never seen public electricity. It is not that they had light and it went down; they have never seen public electricity; whatever light they have seen is through power generating sets.
”We are taking this light from the high tension that is running from Amasiri down to Amangwu because we feel that this community has been so long neglected by previous administrations and we feel that their socio-economic life needed be turned around.
Connecting to the national grid: ”Since Amangwu community where Okpuma belongs to already has light, it is just morally justifiable that we give Okpuma light; connecting them to the national grid, and after this project we are moving power to Asaga from Amangwu; we are extending it from the high tension from Amangwu to Asaga via Owutu.
”We have for some time now seen that Owutu took light from the Unwana axis and the power supply there has been quite epileptic to the extent that for several months, they don’t have light. The Amasiri-Amangwu route is more reliable and our people are clamouring for a better power supply. That is why our administration through the directive of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi has concentrated much of our capital into this kind of project.
”We see rural electrification as a key project that will turn around the economy of Edda East development centre and that is why we intend extending it from Amangwu through Asaga to Owutu and of course we will move into other parts of Edda east development centre. I can assure you that this project will be completed after the next ten days.
Capital intensive projects: ”We identify the projects we want to execute and do appropriate costing and also categorise them so as to know those that are capital intensive and those that are routine. Maintenance of roads are routine projects, so we don’t really see them as capital intensive. Now from day one, we started saving; like this electrification project that is N9 million, you can’t just remove the cash from the monthly allocation at once, so we have to save it”.
Expressing joy over the electrification project, a community leader in the area, Sunday Ogbonnaya, stated that the project was a welcome development against the backdrop that the community had over the years been marginalised and excluded from both local and state governments’
Ufulfilled campaign promises: ”Previous administrations have been coming to us with their campaign promises without fulfilling them but this young man between one to three months in office said enough was enough on lack of power in our community.
”I’m very happy over this project; I say this project is sweeter than sugar for us in this community; we are happy. I’m reminding those in political office to emulate what our Coordinator is doing for us here. The Coordinator has brought democracy dividend to us and we are happy. Politicians occupying various positions should use their office to assist the poor and downtrodden masses like you. We are located at the boundary between Afikpo North and South LGAs of the state.
”With this light, water will come; the youths and aged among us have promised that the materials will be secured; we are 100 percent prepared to ensure that all the materials for this project are adequately protected,” he assured.
In his remark, the Consultant handling the electrification project, Ogbonnaya Oko expressed hope that with the pace of work, the project will be completed within the first week of March 2014.
”I think by Saturday, the job will be completed; we have made consultations with the Enugu distribution company for other necessary logistics, so that power will get to the people. I want to assure them that by next week there will be power supply in this locality”.