Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Akpo community in Aguata local government area of Anambra state is one of the communities crying out from the wilderness due to outright forlorn and abandonment by government. The community which prides itself in exportable rich cultural heritage is said to be on the fringe of extinction because it is said to be one of the communities where government interventions have not taken root.
To this end, the seven villages of Akpo community namely Agbaenu, Uhuala, Ogbor, Umueze, Amaife, Udoh and Ivoro are completely bereft of federal and state government presence as the entire community has solely relied on self-help since origin through the Akpo Development Association. The community has been very obscure such that many people found it rather difficult to differentiate Akpo from Akpu, a community in Orumba. But with the efforts of the community association, people could access Akpo with ease.
But Akpo community has not been fortunate with government projects. Apart from the Small Town Water Scheme by the United Nations Development Project (UNDP), the dearth of infrastructure and social amenities in the entire community could be likened to a state of emergency because the community is in dire need of interventions.
Speaking further on the state of public institutions in Akpo community, the President-General Akpo Development Association Engr. Godwin Ezeno said, “I can’t remember any project that exists in this community that was brought by the government. It has always been Akpo Development Association. The projects have always come from us including electricity, the community secondary school, the maternity hospital, just mention it.
“We have roads and they were initiated by our people. The Amesi-Ogboji Road that is crying for attention now was constructed as far back as 1947. But up till now has not been tarred…”
The President-General further noted that by the year 2016, Akpo was the first community to invite Governor Willie Obiano where the whole community declared total support for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) adopting the Governor as their choice candidate for the 2017 Anambra gubernatorial elections. He said Akpo community gave the Governor Certificate of Endorsement and for the first time in 2017, APGA won all the votes in Akpo town. Ezeno stated that it was during the aforementioned visit that Governor Willie Obiano gave the first developmental project to Akpo community but the project, according to him, has become an illusion.
He added, “Please I will like you to illustrate this for me that the four water projects in Akpo community have no drop of water since it was instituted. We have complained amongst other things that we have not enjoyed any government presence and that we are in darkness in spite of the electricity project that is in the town, initiated and executed by the town in 1987. We can’t do everything. These are the things that are supposed to be done by the government but because of our disposition to progress, we initiated that and brought it to the attention of the Governor that we didn’t have enough transformers. In his reply, the Governor said oh the transformer is just like a low hanging fruit. That we are going to have that. We were happy. We followed it up. We applied for eight transformers and only four were approved for us. Till this moment, those transformers have not been installed since 2016, described as low hanging fruit…”
According to him, it was until March 2018 that the state government found it expedient to back the installation of the four electric transformers with cash but expressed worry that the contractor handling the project had not found it worthwhile to install the transformers.
He said, “We have visited the ministry of public utilities severally. I told them the situation on ground but we are preparing for the next line of action. If the contractor fails to come and install the transformers in the next few days, we will get the government to know it our own way…”
The President-General however maintained that other things Governor Willie Obiano promised Akpo community like the construction of Amaesi-Ogboji-Mkpologwu-Balonye Road have not been fulfilled, stressing that they should be part and parcel of Anambra state. He said the community had continued to rely on self-help in addressing pressing needs as evident in the palliative maintenance work they carry out on the roads every year pointing out that since 2014, no road project has been done in Akpo community.
Ezeno who doubles as an Engineer and a Scientist as well as a retiree of the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) further berated the lack of government presence in his community despite the fact that they pay taxes stressing that due to lack of motorable roads in the area, they trek about two kilometers to access villages within Akpo. The community secondary school according to him has become a shadow of its own as the community raises money to pay teachers teaching in government secondary school. He said health centres are nothing to write home about as people don’t access them because of the deplorable conditions there in.
“In spite of having over 20 professors from Akpo community, we didn’t have any government appointment till 2016. After my complaints, the Governor reacted and the first permanent secretary from Akpo was appointed in 2017…”
Although he acknowledged that they have more government appointments in recent times, he noted that it was a positive development from the Governor but made a passionate appeal for the Anambra State Government to have Akpo community in its development agenda because they appear to have been politically alienated as well as deprived of government infrastructure and social amenities. In spite of the socioeconomic and political handicaps, the President-General said Akpo community has remained an egalitarian society known for its rich cultural endowments and hospitality. He said the entire community is preparing for the 2018 Akpo Mass Return scheduled for 31st December this year. The occasion according to him provides veritable platform to draw up development programmes for the community.