By Peter Duru, Makurdi
FOR about 46 years, the people of Ojoma, Allan Council Ward of Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue lived with the challenge of accessing neighbouring communities and moving their farm produce to such markets due to lack of a bridge across the stream that runs through the village.
During the said period, vehicular movement into the community was almost impossible as motorists that tried to access the community had sad tales to tell. Many had their vehicles damaged on several occasions, while others slipped from the wooden bridge into the stream and nearby gullies.
The wooden bridge was built by the community and had remained their major source of movement across the stream that separates them from other communities in the area. But that sad ordeal finally gave way and turned into dancing, singing and drumming a few days ago when a new concrete bridge constructed by the Otukpo Local Government Council across the stream was opened to traffic.
The project was undertaken and completed by the George Alli-led administration in the local government area, thereby making history. Many did not believe that a local government administration in Benue State could embark on such a project from conception to completion given the state of local government administration in the country and the state. The realisation that the bridge was completed on record time triggered more tears of joy for members and leaders of the Ojoma community, who witnessed the commissioning of the bridge and its handover by the Otukpo Local Government Council chairman, George Alli.
In their separate speeches at the commissioning of the bridge, stakeholders in the community took turns to shower praises on the LGA chairman, who they described as a visionary leader who had written his name in gold. The Leader of the Otukpo Legislative Assembly, who is an indigene of the community, Mr. Enokela Alegwu, said it was a day of joy and satisfaction for him as a politician who works closely with the chairman that completed the bridge for his people. “It goes to show the kind of leadership quality we have in the person of the chairman of our local government. Through this project he has demonstrated leadership quality that is so uncommon,” Alegwu said.
On their part, Elder Stephen Iduh and Mrs. Patricia Anawo, commended the Otukpo Council chairman for remembering their community with a project that was dear to them, adding that history would be kind to him for his selflessness. The leaders said that the chairman had since assumption of office been delivering projects and impacting the lives of the people through such projects like never witnessed in the LGA.
They said: “Our children will remember this day and the one who gave them this bridge and our yet unborn children will be told the story of how your administration changed our story in this community. Your type deserves greater responsibility because that is what we need in this country to move forward. And we pray that God will also remember you because you did not turn your back on the people that were in dire need of a bridge to improve their sources of sustenance and wellbeing.”
Responding, the Council Chairman, Mr. George Alli, said he had no choice but to construct the bridge because he had sleepless nights whenever he remembered the ordeal and challenges the people had to contend with to access their communities or link up with neighbouring communities. “I told myself few months ago that we can do it and we embarked on the project and with determination and commitment of all we have the bridge in place today,” he said.