From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Asa Local Government Area of Kwara State has three districts; Afon, Onire and Owode with Afon as headquarters.
The area stretches from the fringes of Ilorin, the state capital, to the northern boundary of Osun State, neighboring Oyun and Ifelodun LGAs respectively.
In the area is a community known as Aboto-Alfa, an agrarian economy. It is one of the largest producers of cashew and soya beans just as it is famous for high quality vegetables and crops like cassava, maize and guinea corn.
But sadly, all the roads leading to the area are in a horrible and pitiable shape. They are simply a nightmare!
The worse cases are the roads from Aboto-Oja to Aboto- Alfa communities up to the Oguntoyinbo, Odo-Odo boundary with Osun State. These cases are that bad that they have been composed to sorrowful songs by the members of the affected communities.
Could this be an accident of fate or that successive governments have been insensitive and care free about these communities and the plights of the governed?
Seventy-year-old community leader, Idris Jimoh Enukoroyin, told Daily Sun: “Members of these communities are crying but there is no ear to listed. We have been crying out to the state governments since the time of the Late Governor Mohammed Lawal.We went to him many times, pleading that he should do something about the roads to prevent further loss of lives and anguish that we suffer as we travel by these roads , but did not succeeded in changing our fortune.
“Since I was born, the road has not been rehabilitated and I am 70 . What have kept us in this community is self-help. The primary school was built by indigenes, who taxed themselves to contribute to the establishment of the school, before government took it over.
“If you talk of electricity, we taxed ourselves before we extended light to our community. Since the inception of the democracy in 1999, it was only Lawal assisted our community. Other governments that came after him, kept on promising and promising but failed to fulfill them. Is this not wickedness?
“Our hope was rekindled when the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, started Afon-Aboto-Oja/Aboto-Alfa up to the Kwara boundary at Odo-Odo. But unfortunately, the contractor stopped few kilometers after Afon, despite the fact that Afon is the local government headquarters. The project has since been abandoned after Saraki left office.
“One major assistance we want from the Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is in the areas of basic facilities.
“The government should help us rehabilitate our roads, construct a modern market, provision of pipe borne water and establishment of a secondary school. Our children trek over eight kilometres before they can get to their secondary school.
“We are appealing to Governor AbdulRasaq to let us feel the dividends of democracy in our village. He can open the book about past contracts on the road by asking the contractor handling the construction of the road to return to site and/or consider the village in its rural development road he intends to embark upon.
“Alangua Aboto-Alfa, Alhaji AbdulRahman Oloko and residents of the village begged the governor to come to our aid as the village was suffering untold hardship laving and entering our community”
He noted that rain would soon set in and it would make the road impassable while adding that this would certainly disrupt and undermine the efforts of their farmers to evacuate their farm produce to the markets.
Aibatu Aliyu, a mother and voice in the community, recalled how a 32-year-old pregnant woman, with her cousin, were killed by armed bandits while trekking to neighboring village to sell wares a year ago:
“If there was a good road, they would not have trekked through the paths. Vehicles would be on hand to transport passengers to other towns on market days. And they would never have died in cold blood.
“We are doomed again now that the rainy season is about to set in. The road will totally be in mess, we would be cut off from the rest of the world.
“I am appealing to our Governor to please have mercy on those of us resident in the villages and connect us with the larger Kwara. It is not a sin to live in the village. So why punishing us ?
“We cannot all live in the cities. Those of us enduring the rural life need to be encouraged by providing us with what it takes to make life easy for us to live in here.
“Some of the villages in Asa LG share boundary running into tens of kilometres with Osun State. They have their roads tarred up to their boundary to the West and Oyun Council Area with Ifelodun Local Government to the East and Moro Local Government Area the North. Is this too hard and too difficult for our own government to do? Did we not all elect this government?
Another community leader, Umar Sedu, reechoed: “Osun State and Oyun Local Government Area recently began the construction of their own end of the affected roads, where a private university is being located, leaving the Asa side about three kilometres to Aboto-Alfa unattended to.
“Since the creation of Kwara State, we have never enjoyed for once or found joy on this road- neither during the rainy season nor the dry season. It has been the same sad song all through the year and this has greatly affected our community as our economic activities have been paralysed.”
Seidu Abubakar said: “It would have been better for the road to remain the way it was before the contract was awarded. The joy the people experienced when construction equipment moved to the area had gone with the wind. It has been dashed ever since it became obvious that the road contract was a just a political scam, a deceit in the first place.”
Another resident, Wahab Shittu, wondered why the road project was stopped: “Many traders have stopped coming to buy and sell in the area because of bad roads: “Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq should consider the community in the next rural roads to be awarded.If possible, the contractors Saraki awarded the road contract to could be asked to continue the work. The contractors said the construction of the roads is to terminate at the Osun boundary.”
Meanwhile, a senior government official who did not want his name in print, urged rural communities to persevere a little more and to continue to support the government in its stride to ensure that rural areas are developed to stem rural urban migration.
He told Daily Sun that the administration would ensure even development and therefore would extend roads and other basic amenities to nooks and crannies of the state, adding that the government it has started the first phase of linking rural roads, adding that others will follow until Kwara roads are motorable.