•Villagers turn deserted poly to farmland, a storage facility for cash crops

By Paul Olayemi, DEGHELE-ELUME

RESIDENTS of Deghele-Elume, Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State, have urged the state government to explain why it abandoned the land which the community donated to it to build a polytechnic, over a decade ago.

Weeds overtake project site

When NDV visited the community, weekend, it was found that villagers have converted the site to farmland.

In fact, a multi-million naira hall, with office probably for administrative purposes, built by the government to kick-start the polytechnic, had since been converted to a storage facility for corn, cassava, yam, okro and other cash crops.

Weeds had since overtaken the project site, deserted for about 10 years now, and the premises remain idle. The vast land has another uncompleted building, while locals have converted some part of it to a cassava farm.

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Villagers angry, demand explanation 

A native of Deghele-Elume, Akpobo Kekeyi, asserted: “When the site was chosen, we partied till daybreak; we knew the change the school could bring to our small community, even some of us worked in that completed school hall and our joy was boundless. So, what has gone wrong?

“We wrote letters to the Chairman, Sapele Local Government Area, reached out to necessary officials and even went to Asaba and had meetings with some persons, to the point that a team came to the community and assured us that it is not abandoned. Since then, we have been going back and forth. They should tell us what has happened to the project,” he said.

Another villager, Mr Isaac Adaka, told NDV: “The community had no prior knowledge of the project specifications or supporting contract details, we cannot believe it is an abandoned project, how could this happen? Somebody should tell us something.”

A villager who preferred anonymity said: “If the Uduaghan government had not abandoned it, it would have been great, in fact, when the contractor came setting up a base and building these structures, we were happy only to face the reality later that the school has been abandoned.

“It is better to make use of the land and build than let it rot away. We donated this piece of land to them when they said they wanted to use it for school, now see how they have wasted it,” he added.

Contentious power wrangle

The polytechnic with others at Aboh, Bomadi and Abigborodo in Ndokwa East, Bomadi and Warri North local government areas, was among the tertiary institutions, approved by the administration of ex-governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, to provide succour to the millions of students longing for higher education in the state.

But it was embroiled in a controversial power tussle between its host community and influential politicians in government over its permanent site with Deghele – Elume has controversially chosen against the unanimously recommended site of Sapele Technical College, STC, Amukpe, both in Sapele Local Government Area.

Amukpe community had recommended STC for reasons of centralization, existing facilities, space and the fact that the technical college was long overdue for upgrading to polytechnic status.

However, despite initial government efforts to actualise the dream, with the then Higher Education Commissioner, Dr Hope Eghagha, who led a team of government officials and community representatives on an inspection tour of the site, the project was still abandoned.

A section of Sapele indigenes is unhappy with the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, on the recent upgrading of polytechnics to universities across the state without mention of existing ones still at foundation levels, particularly Sapele Polytechnic at Deghele- Elume.

Our resolve —Asagba, Amukpe  scribe

Secretary-General of Amukpe community, Chief Morris Asagba, who spoke to NDV, asserted:

“We, in the interest of the generality of Sapele people, thought siting the polytechnic at STC will upgrade the technical college to a befitting status of polytechnic like its contemporaries, i.e. Yaba College of Technology, Enugu Polytechnic and Kaduna Polytechnic, which were all former colonially- established government trade centres with Sapele.

He said having lost the battle of upgrading STC, the community had no alternative than to focus on the materialisation of the polytechnic so long as it is in the interest of the entire Amukpe, Sapele communities and the Okpe Kingdom.

Elume community, lawmaker inaccessible

Efforts to get Elume community spokesman for comments on the issue were unsuccessful, owing to the demise of the community’s duke, Chief William Avwigborighe.  A new duke of Elume community with Deghele village as its sub-community is expected to be sworn-in in the next three months.

Efforts to get the House of Assemblymember representing Sapele Constituency was abortive, as he was said to be on an official engagement in the United Kingdom.

I’m not in govt, can’t speak —Igbuya

Contacted, former Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. (Chief)  Monday Igbuya, who, last week, returned to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, two years after he defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, said he was not in government to comment on the matter

UPU wants a site for Mowoe University

Recently, the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, said the apex Urhobo body was keen on realising and securing the abandoned Delta Polytechnic site among other suitable sites for the proposed Mukoro Mowoe University, and once visited the site. The UPU officials are yet to return.

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