Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Awka-North local government area of Anambra state is one of the few council areas with vast arable land for agricultural production. The local government area could be referred to as the food basket of Anambra state due to its agric potentials but rather than receive the attention of the powers that be, the council area seemed to have become an aborted pregnancy because it is completely bereft of government presence and interventions.
Public utilities and social amenities in Awka-North have become folklores such that the area gives an impression of once upon a time, there was a road, school or hospital in Awka-North local government area. The council area appears to have been ostracized and banished from the map of Anambra state even though it is part and parcel of the capital territory. Successive administrations in the state have subjected the council area to developmental backwardness, neglect and oblivion such that the blight cast on it calls to mind the parable of the solitary reaper.
The plight of Awka-North however prompted the incumbent lawmaker representing Awka-North state constituency in the 7th assembly of the Anambra State House of Assembly Hon. John Nwokoye to ask a very compassionate question at the hallowed chambers of the legislature that “is Awka-North cursed or are we the cause?” The question thus provokes a sober reflection on the pitiable and deplorable conditions of Awka-North local government area. As a result of the glaring absence of modernity as well as amenities that make life worth living in the area, Awka-North has been subject of ridicules because they are being allegedly referred to as “Ndi-Abakaliki” meaning that they are still in the stone age era and have not embraced the realities of the 21st century world. This is the sad and unfortunate story of Awka-North where there is no connecting access road to the local government headquarters in Achala. As a result of the pre-literate nature of the council area, all the communites in the area seem to be alienated from one another due to outright lack of roads. Mgbakwu where the Anambra State Polytechnic is situated, is one of the communites in Awka-North closest to the capital territory but the community in question is far from modernisation due to absence of roads and other social amenities necessary to make life worth living in the area.
Other communities of Awka-North local government area: Amanuke, Isuaniocha, Ebenebe, Ugbenu, Ugbene, Oba-Ofemili, Amansea, Urum and a few others have all been subjected to ill-fated roads, schools and hospitals such that the rural populace are currently susceptible to water, air and other forms of diseases due to environmental health challenges as well as poor living conditions. Historical records have it that the first time a road was constructed in Awka-North was in 1979 during the then military government and ever since, the council area was left to mourn its fate and grope in the dark because successive administrations in Anambra state abandoned it. It is the state of melancholy in Awka-North constituency that propelled Hon. John Nwokoye to take the bull by the horn to rescue his constituency from developmental backwardness, neglect, marginalisation and abandonment. He however damned the consequences of his words and actions, when he said in one of the legislative sessions that he wouldn’t mind if it was possible for him to contribute his own personal money for a road to be constructed in Awka-North local government area.
Hence Hon. John Nwokoye who is the House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Agriculture and Rural Development of the 7th Anambra State House of Assembly has since his inauguration into the legislature not relented in sending a Save Our Soul signal to the incumbent state government to redeem his constituency from the antiquity brought upon it by the i-don’t-care attitudes of past administrations in the state. The lawmaker had said after a tour of the communities in Awka-North that indeed his constituency is far away from the indices and indicators of modern day infrastructural development In order for his constituency not to have the semblance of an aborted pregnancy, Hon. Nwokoye embarked on a reversal of the misfortunes of Awka-North to bring it at par with other constituencies in Anambra state. Thus, he embarked on a recovery mission.
The lawmaker’s stance on the state of his constituency is clearly captured in one of his contributions at the state assembly, where he said, “Awka-North has a capital in Achala and almost all the communites in Awka-North cannot access their local government headquarters. Mgbakwu and Amanuke will move away from their various communities to traverse about five local government areas before they can access their local government headquarters in Achala. It is a very pathetic situation! There is nothing to celebrate in Awka-North. My people are predominantly farmers but there are no access roads to take their farm products to the markets. The condition of my constituency calls for a state of emergency! Government should alleviate our sufferings and ameliorate our plight. We are begging Governor Willie Obiano to prevail on the commissioner for works to complete the construction of Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road.
“I wish to draw the attention of the governor to this very bad road. Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road was awarded by the former governor of old Anambra, Jim Nwobodo in 1979-1983. Up till today, the road has not been constructed. In 2006, former governor Peter Obi awarded that road again. Before Peter Obi, Dr. Chris Ngige reawarded the road. Before Chris Ngige, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju reawarded the road. Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road has been nicknamed campaign road by the people of Awka-North. This year marks the 13th year that road has been under construction. I hear people talking about rehabilitation of roads but Awka-North is still talking about construction of roads. This road is the only road that links the entire Awka-North to the local government headquarters Achala. Before someone from Mgbakwu, Oba-Ofemili, Amansea, Isuaniocha can access the council headquarters, which is about five minutes journey, you will go through Awka-South, Njikoka, Dunukofia, Oyi and Anambra-east local government areas before you get to Achala the headquarters of Awka-North local government area. Now, we are called the ‘Abakaliki’ of Anambra state and I begin to ask myself, are we the people of Awka-North the cause or is the name Awka-North the cause?
“In analysing the two questions, I found out that the people of Awka-North are neither cursed nor caused the blight cast on them by successive governments in Anambra state. Awka-North has produced men and women who have served this nation in various capacities ranging from P.J Nwokedi the former Chief Justice of Anambra state and many more. So Awka-North is not cursed. I am now pleading with the executive governor of Anambra state to treat Awka-North the way he treats other local governments that have the name North attached to it. In addition, Awka-North is an agrarian area but today, there are no roads to convey farm produce from the hinterlands to the cities, thereby making food items very costly. Awka-North is part of the state capital but people say we look like abakaliki people. The road in question connects Anambra-east, Anambra-west, Awka-North and Ayamelum local government areas.
“Today, Awka-North is being relegated to the bottom pit of hell! I am ready to sacrifice my four years salaries so they can add it to the amount mapped out for the construction of Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke-Achala road. That road is now a security threat because bandits use it as hideout. So we are begging Governor Willie Obiano to come to our rescue and make Awka-North part and parcel of Anambra state.”