From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
People of Umuopu , one of the largest communities in Enugu –Ezike, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State are yearning for a facelift on its infrastructural challenges.
Rich in agriculture, the community is challenged in the areas of basic amenities like roads, healthcare facilities and pipe borne water. Public schools in the area are also in a dilapidated state.
On a recent visit to the area, many of the people who spoke blamed the situation on the neglect from past administrations in the state. They acknowledged that the incumbent administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi inherited enormous rot from the various rural communities while he has also made concerted efforts to open up previously neglected areas.
The people are full of expectations that the governor will remember them and also turn around the fortunes of the community infrastructure-wise before the end of his tenure.
Youths of the area under the aegis of Umuopu Youths Association (UYA), who have taken up the campaign for a new Umuopu, said they are on bended knees calling on the state chief executive to do something positive for them.
As it stands now, there is no single tarred road in the community except the major road that connects Nsukka to different communities terminating at Ette, an Idoma speaking part of Enugu State.
Comrade Ogbonna Ossai, public relations officer, UYA, said: “We thank God for the gift of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who is a workaholic. He has been doing well in terms of development, especially at the rural level both in Igbo-Eze North and other parts of the state. While thanking him, we are pleading with him and also remind him of the ordeal we pass through in Umuopu community every day.
“It is a known fact that we don’t have good roads. We suffer during rainy season, from erosion and bad roads. During the time of Chimaroke and Sullivan, we have been pleading with government to intervene in our roads but they couldn’t get it done. Thank God, in this present administration, Ugwuanyi heard our cries. He did not only award contract for our roads from Ogrute down to Umuopu but he also started work there.
“Unfortunately, the project was stopped after two kilometers at Umuogbo-ulo when it has not even gotten to our own community. We are appealing to the governor to remember us once again in the project and complete the road.”
Ogbonna said the youths were also calling the government’s attention to its public schools as most of them are dilapidated and are not good state for effective learning.
“Infact, some of them are death traps for learning because the roofs are leaking and there is this fear that one of these days, the structure can collapse because they are weak already.”
Ogbonna listed the bad roads in the community to include Umuopu centre down to Agu Ego, noting that when it rains, everyone is stuck, including people of Umuopu umueze to Ogbauke and from Umuopu centre to Umuonogwu.
He said the dilapidated schools included the community primary school, Aguego and that of Umuopu centre.
“These days when the children are in school, there is apprehension among the parents because the roofs may cave in on the pupils,” he said.
Similarly, Assistant headmistress of Community Primary School, Aguego Umuopu, Florence Ayogu, lamented that when it rains, teachers and pupils of the school scamper for safety at every available corner of the school because the roofs are gone and the children are exposed to rain, sun and other weather conditions.
A pupil of the school, Emilia Ayogu, described the school as a mad man’s enclave and olden days structure, noting that pupils also struggle with snakes and other dangerous reptiles in the school because of the hostile environment.
The Secretary, Umuopu Youth Association, Samson Ayogu, appreciated efforts of stakeholders and leaders in the community, who have been trying to bridge the development gaps in the community.
He said: “Help us make a difference in our communities. The governor has been doing well but the stoppage of work at Umuogboulo before the Afor Market is not a good omen for us. We experience lots of difficulties presently in accessibility and movement.
“Our market is a moving river when it rains. No one sells when it rains because everywhere will be flooded. Water flowing from Isiugwu community will overrun the whole place. This market is a place where the villagers eke out a living but they can’t even trade again in this condition.
“Our health centre is another story alltogether. This was conceived as a giant structure but now in Umuopu we have no health centre. No nurses, doctors or what have you. Recalling past incident of yellow fever outbreak in our community, people died like fowls because there was no nearby remedial centre. Before you could rush anyone to the general hospital at Ogrute which is far distance from here, the worst would have happened” he said
An attendant at the health centre, Lilian Abugu, said the health centre has become a haven for hemp smokers and some youths, who make out in a careless form in the centre
“Because the roofs are also leaking while there is no burglary proof here. Sometimes, we see remnants of smoked hemp and even used condoms within the premises. Our health centre is not working,” she said.
Chairman of the youth organisation, Emeka Urama, who spoke on phone from his base in Senegal told the reporter that those of them outside the shores of the Nigeria are very much concerned about the living conditions of the people and life in the village generally.
“Pictures and images don’t lie. You can see everything for yourselves because whenever I step into the village or remember my hometown, I cry silently in my heart. How long shall we continue to suffer? If Ugwuanyi cannot solve our problems now, who else can do it better for us?” he asked.
Chairman of Igbo-Eze North LGA, Prince Ejike Itodo, when contacted, said that government has been up and doing in fulfilling its responsibilities. He said the Ugwuanyi administration is gradually and steadily attending to the development challenges in the state which he inherited from previous administrations.
Prince Itodo advised the youths not to fall into the hands of some people who may want to use them, for some selfish political gains, noting that the local government has undertaken the grading of roads in the area while the governor has assured that work will continue on the reconstruction of the major road, which they mentioned.
He further disclosed that some prominent private individuals from Umuopu community have also undertaken some projects to complement the efforts of government while government has assured that no community will be neglected in Enugu State.