Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Ogbaru one state constituency in Anambra state is one of the 30 constituencies recognised by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. The constituency comprises three major quarters namely East-Niger, Nkpikpa and Central Okpoko respectively but the bone of contention is that the constituency has been allegedly forlorned by successive administrations without any step taken to revamp the area as well as bestow it the status of a city-side with all the prerequisites necessary to make life and living in the area worthwhile. A tour of the three quarters in the constituency further reveals government alleged outright neglect, abandonment and insensitivity thereby casting a blight on the inhabitants of the aforementioned quarters.
Ogbaru one constituency is currently bedeviled by erosion, flood, poor housing facilities, absence of roads and amenities as well as general environmental degradation and poor standards of living thereby reducing the entire constituency to a haven of criminalities as evident in its deplorable state. Furthermore, some of the streets visited upon investigations in the constituency namely Ogbudike, Nwokedi, Nicholas, Aririonwu and a host of others revealed that there has been no government presence in the area since the creation of Anambra state and that from all indications the constituency seems to have been forgotten completely. This is in accordance with the revelation made by Mrs. Benedict Ibeazor who lives along Aririonwu street in Central Okpoko. She said they have been subjected to perpetual suffering due to ecological problems. She said whenever it rained, the street would be like River Niger itself because nobody comes out for fear of being carried away by flood and that most times people fled from their houses to avoid being submerged by flood adding that no government delegations had ever visited the area to undertake an environmental impact assessment on the level of degradable and deplorable conditions of the area.
One Chief Samuel Okorienta who narrated the ordeals people go through at Nkpikpa axis of Ogbaru one constituency, noted that it has been a recurrent factor for people to lose their lives during rainy seasons in the area. He bemoaned the absence of drainage facilities as well as the menace of flood and erosion stressing that they have been allegedly alienated from urbanisation because no government has ever remembered them including the incumbent state government. On his part, the lawmaker representing the constituency at the state assembly Hon. Chukwunonso Noble Igwe said his constituency was not part of Anambra state because if it was, government wouldn’t allow his constituents to suffer in perpetuity. Igwe explained that “our people do not feel anything like government presence in my area. For instance, you will cry for Okpoko community, from what you have seen there. The whole place is in a very sordid condition. We do not have any single good road in Okpoko entirely.The absence of good roads in Okpoko has led to the increase in crime because the security personnel do not have access to the nooks and crannies; they can’t move about to apprehend criminals because of bad roads.
Also, we have a very big challenge when it comes to flooding. The only drainage system which is the sacamori in Okpoko is filled up with sand and that drainage is supposed to collect water from some parts of Awada, Fegge and the entire Okpoko down to Idemili river and finally to the river Niger but for now, the Sacamori is filled up making flood to destroy peoples’ property and lives. By this time last year, we lost about five lives to the menace of flood as a result of poor drainage system in Okpoko. We have a working governor; maybe he has not been told about the conditions of the people of Okpoko. We are suffering and we are beckoning on him to please do at least two or three kilometers road for us, we will appreciate it.”
“The only good road we used to enjoy before was Obodo-Ukwu road but come now, if you pass through Obodo-Ukwu road it will take you about one hour to cover just less than two kilometers of road. The entire place is in a total mess. We are begging the working governor of Anambra state Dr. Willie Obiano to come and assist the people of Okpoko; as a matter of urgent need to come and do a total reconstruction of Obodo-Ukwu road and Ede road and also help us dredge the Sacamori drainage. Once that is done, our people will be happy and they will continue to support him and the government of Anambra state.”
According to him, Ogbaru one constituency is currently a no-go area because of the magnitude of flood in the area. He said any rainfall meant that one cannot go out or come into the constituency because of the level of flood devastations. He said, “From Awada – Obosi most of the flood coming down from there empty into Okpoko. Likewise, from Fegge through the Sacamori drainage; so Okpoko is more or less a dumping ground for flood and there is no control mechanism that would take care of that. At the end, it has a resultant negative effect on people’s property and lives. Houses are being destroyed. Properties are being destroyed.
Thank God for the bravery of one barrow-pusher who saved the life of a small child who nearly got drowned as a result of flooding in Okpoko area on Tuesday 30th July this year. So when you get to Okpoko, you will have every right to have mercy on us because there is nothing like erosion or drainage control there and once it rains everywhere becomes flooded and people begin to scamper for safety. Last year, we lost so many people including bankers to flood menace. Four UBA staff were drowned in flood. They lost their lives just like that and many other people in Okpoko community. So if it rains in Okpoko, everybody will be in fear and at the end of it, it is either a building collapse or people’s property got damaged or they lose their lives to flood. It has been a recurrent event and my people are in perpetual fear.”
He however maintained that urgent proactive measures should be taken by the government in power to remedy the precarious situation in his constituency stressing that Governor Willie Obiano should have mercy on his constituents and direct the commissioners for works and environment to come to Okpoko community and see that streets are destroyed and that the environment is nothing to write home about. The lawmaker therefore stated unequivocally that judging from the infrastructural deficits and environmental decay in his area, the implication is that Ogbaru one constituency is not part of Anambra state in principle but only exists in the archives of the state government.
The legislator who also doubles as a teacher disclosed further that all the government schools in Ogbaru one state constituency were completely non-functional. He therefore mentioned that Okpoko Boys Secondary School, Okpoko Girls Secondary School and some others were all in very bad conditions such that students struggled through flood waters to find their way home whenever it rained. Another problematic issue he raised was insecurity in Okpoko community. He said there should be more watertight security to reduce crime rate in Okpoko community pointing out that Ogbaru one constituency has been in the dark for too long and that it was time government remembered the constituency and include it in its development projects