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Akoko-Edo people suffering and smiling

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A rider conveying six schoolchildren



By WILFRED JIBRIL

It is not hyperbolical to say that the coming to power of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has compounded the woes of the neglected Akoko-Edo Local Government Area.

After the eight years of the locusts that the administration of Lucky Igbinedion of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) represented, one had expected that the administration of the garrulous Oshiomhole and that of his godson, Governor Godwin Obaseki, would make the expected difference.

A kid rider carrying four scchoolchildren

But alas, the Oshiomhole era was an unmitigated disaster as nothing good came from his government to the local government area.

Regrettably, the Obaseki administration is following in the footsteps of Oshiomhole, his godfather.  Three years down the line, Obaseki has not deemed it fit to tackle the death traps that Akoko-Edo roads have become.

A female okada rider

One only hopes Obaseki will not come to the local government area for the revalidation of his mandate when his tenure expires next year if he has a conscience.

The only change the people of the area are experiencing is that of retrogression. In almost 12 years of APC administration in the state, the people of the local government area, which is the largest in Nigeria, are mourning because it is bereft of socio-economic development.

For instance, apart from Igarra, the local government headquarters, which boasts few motorable roads, there is no town or village in the area that has a good road.

Children searching for water

This explains why the only means of transportation is okada (commercial motorcycles).   Commuting by okada, however, is very expensive as a result of the deplorable state of the roads.

This reporter paid N700 for a round trip from Igarra to and from Okpe. A trip of about 40 minutes.

EDO VOICE observes that the operations of commercial and private motorcyclists at Igarra are not regulated by the government as kid riders operate freely. In most cases, a rider carries between three and six school children at once.

The search for water

It is also observed that female motorcyclists constitute about 30 per cent of okada riders at Igarra.

According to sources, the road situation in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area is so terrible that some communities are not easily accessible. A good example is Uneme-Eruhu, which can only be accessed through Okpella in Etsako East Local Government Area of the state.

What most people cannot fathom is the reason Akoko-Edo Local Government Area has been neglected by successive governments in the state. Public secondary schools in the area are now glorified pigsties.

Examples are Uma Secondary Commercial School, Imoga and Ososo Grammar School, Ososo, with dilapidated structures, decrepit infrastructure and blown-off roofs, among others.

It is so sad that the people keep voting without anything to show for it. They are denied the dividends of democracy because most of the politicians in the area are self-serving. An example of such politicians is a former senator who didn’t attract any development to the area. Even the road leading to his house is bad.

The man is now an object of caustic barbs at Igarra on a daily basis.

Water supply is another serious challenge confronting the people of the area. Hapless Igarra residents are seen daily with jerrycans searching for water.

They go from the house of one Good Samaritan to another to fetch water. The solar-powered boreholes sunk by politicians like Senator Francis Alimikhena are not making any difference as the taps are always running dry. An example is the one located in Austen Mayaki Street, off Technical College road, behind Deeper Life Bible Church, Canaan District, Igarra.

Water vendors are taking advantage of the situation to make brisk business which is why an Igarra resident told EDO VOICE that Igarra is a very expensive local government headquarters as everything is paid for.

The borehole project in Austen Mayaki Street, Igarra

Frequent power outage at Igarra is a serious threat to the local economy as it is affecting the growth of small scale businesses.

It was gathered that the problem with the electorate in the area is that they keep voting for wrong leaders because of financial inducement which is why radical socio-economic development might remain elusive to Akoko-Edo Local Government Area for a long time.

For instance, an Igarra indigene, who preferred anonymity, told EDO VOICE that  the people had resolved to vote out the ruling APC in 2019 general elections, but overnight they changed their mind.

Observers believe that as long as the people of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area keep selling their votes to the highest bidder, the area would continue to suffer the consequences of enthroning bad leadership.

Also speaking with EDO VOICE, a concerned observer opined:  “I don’t know what is wrong with our people, but I think Akoko-Edo Local Government Area is cursed.

Can you believe that a House of Representatives aspirant, who lost at the primaries last year, described our people as fowls? That once you give them some grains, they are satisfied.  It is very unfortunate”.

According to a source at the local government secretariat, the council chairman, Hon. Don Oteh Umoru  is the first chairman in the history of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area who is so passionate about the development of the area, adding that his major handicap is the council’s comparatively low Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

“The monthly allocation from the Federation Account is not enough for any meaningful socio-economic development to be carried out bearing in mind that salaries are paid from it and our local government area is the largest in Nigeria”, the source added.

The only good thing about Akoko-Edo Local Government Area is that accommodation is affordable.

 

Readers’ reactions to this story are welcome. Such reactions should be emailed to the editor at info@edovoice.com.ng . He can also be reached on 08037831431 and 07067428404



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