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Okowa and a people’s burden

As Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa begins the last lap of his political journey as Delta State Governor, one can affirmatively say that, by his proactive actions and accomplishments, he discharged his onerous responsibilities as Delta’s helmsman in his first four years with candour and commitment  of a man poised to be on the positive side of history.

And for others who are chroniclers of the human personality and its many ‘waves’, they posit that Okowa (was in his first term), and still remains, a man who understands the dynamics of leadership in a contemporary world, where values, needs, aspirations and expectations change with the speed of light .

Still, a few other critical minds – probably perfectionists – query what they term the ‘over- rating’ of Okowa given the trajectory of Delta’s history as one not particularly blessed before (Okowa’s era) with purposeful leadership, and, therefore, lacks a veritable barometer to gauge what responsive leadership entails.

But be that as it may, our focus here is on Okowa’s second term. Oftentimes, in our clime here,  the second term turns out to be the most tempting and intriguing, as most governors in their second coming, sadly, recoil to the shell of inaction and complacency.

At such periods, many of them feel they are no longer under any electoral heat or pressure to woo the largely uncritical electorate. Most of them, now feeling firmly secured in power, begin to behave like the proverbial masquerades at the village square, who after displaying their acrobatic prowess, begin to lazily retreat homewards aided by their many cheerleaders.

But one believes that, as the saying goes, ‘the morning shows the day,’ Governor Okowa, judging from his inaugural speech on May29, 2019 when his second term began, has sent an early signal that he will not be in the mould of those do-nothing governors; that his second coming is to take Delta State to enviable heights and leave behind a legacy of service in the next four years. He is roundly believed to be a man who walks his talk and not given to rhetoric.

But Okowa’s promise of handing over a Greater Delta notwithstanding, the crux of the write-up is to bring to the fore the near-criminal abandonment that has become the lot of Nsukwa Clan, and by extension, Aniocha South Council of the State.

For emphasis sake, Nsukwa Clan now more popularly known as Enuani, forms one of the tripod that make up Aniocha South Council; the other two being Ogwashi-Uku and Ubulu-Uku zones.

Nsukwa Clan which is about 25minutes drive (on motorable road) to Asaba, the State capital, is situated at the South –Eastern flank of Aniocha South Council, and comprises 11 major communities and many splinter settlements that  share socio-cultural affinities that predate history. These major communities include, Nsukwa, Isheagu, Ewulu,  Ejeme-Unor, Ejeme–Anigor,Adonte, Umute, Ukwu–Oba, Egbudu-Akah and Ashama.

Sad enough, a common thread of despair runs through these communities – the absence of social amenities such as roads, electricity, potable water, health and educational facilities.

From pre-independence days Nsukwa Clan has remained a mere pawn in the chessboard of political manipulators and their cronies. The people of the clan are perceived as willing horses in the hands of politicians, who woo them during elections, only to abandon them in the lurch. The politicians never return to fulfil their electoral promises, and then the macabre dance of deceit continues!

Our cries here are not those of alarmists and talebearers; the reality is self- evident. For instance, out of the 11communities in the clan, not more than three have tarred roads, and wait for the shocker, of these three ‘lucky’ communities, only one –Nsukwa – Ejeme road (which was recently given a facelift) leads to the outer Ndemili road in Ukwani Council. Those of Isheagu and Umute, which have become deplorable due to age, terminate in the middle of the communities, thereby leading to nowhere.

The other dark side of the no-roads saga in the clan is, that neighbouring communities which in the past shared in common ‘the schools’ because of their proximity, have now been cut off from each other.

For instance, patients from these nearby communities who go the  Isheagu General Hospital (the only one in the clan)  for treatment, now have to make a detour of about 13kms on the Ughelli-Ogwashi-Uku Expressway to access  the neighbouring town  located less than two kilometres away or preferably travel to Ogwashi-Uku on bikes on the ever-busy highway.

A good example is the Ewulu –Isheagu, Umute- Nsukwa links which have been cut off by broken bridges. And of course, the Delta Line Transport service which is subsidised by the state government does not cover any part of Nsukwa Clan, as there are no roads in the area to accommodate the wear and tears of the shuttle buses.

More so, the implication of this lack of good roads, is that these agrarian communities with their aquatic splendour that could boost tourism and shore up the state’s revenue, also have their food produce rot away since they never get to their desired destinations. With little or no economic activities going on, poverty reigns supreme and all sorts of heinous crimes begin to creep into hitherto crime-free communities.

Most worrisome, formerly close knit communities now cut off by bad roads and broken bridges, having lost their earlier affinities, consequently, become belligerent neighbours who are now always on the war path.

This the dilemma of Nsukwa clan today and a threat to peaceful co-existence in a  state in dire need of communal harmony.

Why one is particularly worried about the state of roads in Nsukwa clan, is because, like the Romans say,’ civilisation follows the road’, and as these communities remain inaccessible, the area will continue to be consigned to the backwaters of underdevelopment and abject poverty. A good road network is a sine qua non for Okowa’s Greater Delta vision.

Still, opening up these areas with accessible road network will help to decongest Asaba and its immediate environs, and consequently, stem the tide of rural-urban migration with its attendant social vices.

It must be noted that the then Lagos State Governors Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode’s magic wand was the opening up of   rural areas and making more areas accessible, thereby boosting economic activities.  Delta State can replicate this.

For electricity, Nsukwa  Clan, has more than  10 years been in darkness, as the  grid that runs from Ogwashi-Uku through Ewulu, Isheagu to  Nsukwa, has been vandalised and stolen.

And one is not sure that there is any visible attempt by the Benin Electricity Company to restore light to the area. Even the Delta State Energy Ministry seems unperturbed by this ugly state of affairs.

We all know that without power, small-scale industries and sundry outfits go comatose, or operate at huge costs.

One has taken detailed studies of the development paradigms in neighbouring Aniocha North, Oshmili North and others, and has come to the painful conclusion that Aniocha South Council  lags behind in all indices of development, as good  roads, water, electricity  remain  mere illusion in the area.

Our tears and pains are evidently justifiable and obvious: since the inception of this democratic dispensation in 1999, Nsukwa Clan has remained a predominantly PDP zone, with people casting their votes en masse for the ruling party in the state. 

Equity, justice and good conscience demand that a people so religiously attached to the ruling party deserve a better deal, irrespective of whether they have a ‘voice’ or a heavy weight at the corridors of power. To continue to neglect and undermine their collective needs and expectations, is to play the hardened Pharaoh, and expect the same level of loyalty from the same despised and abandoned people.

And for the people of Nsukwa Clan, it is time to end this docility and forge a bond of unity and sense of belonging aimed at consensus building and lobbying the powers that be to change the sad narrative of these decades of wrongs by successive administrations in Delta State. The people must understand that no outsider will fight their war and bargain for the juicy slices from power; we are the ones to do it, without which, we would have wittingly mortgaged the future of our coming generations.

And for the new lawmakers representing Aniocha South in the State House of Assembly and the National Assembly, they must rise up to the challenge of bringing a new lease of life to the people through consensus building and alliances with the executive arm for the much- needed amenities in the council. They must be independent-minded in taking rational decisions in the interest of the majority, rather than  dancing to the tunes of selfish power mongers.

For Okowa, the task of pulling Nsukwa Clan, and by extension, Aniocha South from the backwaters of under development should begin now. The council needs a new deal which is long overdue; the people need to beat their chests and echo: ‘Governor Okowa came and made the huge difference in their lives’, and this great expectation should be met in this second term!

Nwagboniwe is a media practitioner and convener of Professionals for Better Nsukwa Clan.

Culled from :Here

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