•Health facilities, roads, schools in shambles
as two brothers battle for soul of town
By Gloria Ikegbule
Amanuke, a community in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, is in grief at the moment, split from the top by a bitter feud for the soul of the town.
This crisis has robbed the town, which is about 10 kilometres north of Awka, of basic social amenities. Now, it lacks potable water, electricity, boreholes and even paved roads. Schools and health facilities that the residents built in the past though self-help are all in ruins, with no one to maintain them.
Daily Sun gathered that the hospital, primary and secondary schools and even the primary health centre that the townspeople built and handed over to the Anambra State government have long been abandoned.
Recently, a cross-section of residents of the community spoke to newsmen on the self-inflicted plight of the people. They urged the state government to intervene, as they expressed sadness over the fact that the tussle over the town’s traditional stool has become its undoing.
According them, two brothers, Chief Dennis Ezebuilo and one of his relations (name withheld), have been fighting for the throne left by the late traditional ruler of the town, Igwe William Ezenwa.
They recalled that Ezebuilo, aka Ezeuba, was approached by the elders to be their king and he assented to their request. He was subsequently crowned by the elders of the community, led by late Chief Anaemene Nnaama, from Umuonala village, in line with the custom and tradition of the people.
However, shortly afterwards, some influential persons in the community began to make trouble by wooing one of Ezebuilo’s kinsmen, who had never shown interest in the crown, to challenge his candidature.
According to one of the community leaders, Chief Christian Ofora, from Umuonala village, the community unanimously crowned Chief Ezebuilo as its monarch but some people in the corridors of power have continued to impose his relation on the community.
“There is no peace in this community” Ofora began, grinding his teeth. “We had unanimously crowned Chief Dennis Ezebuilo as our traditional ruler but a few persons who vowed never to allow this community breath well started fighting us just because they’re in government.
“Right now, our situation is very pathetic. We are in a state of serious war, although we are not using any weapons. No war is greater than the one we are fighting here. A few elite have vowed never to allow us have peace.”
Corroborating these claims, Mr. Udegbunem Udegbunem from Enuagu village said: “We in Amanuke have crowned Chief Dennis Ezebuilo as our monarch. We don’t have to speak grammar about that.”
In the same vein, another community leader, Mr. Zephaniah Onyemezie of Umuokpala-Eri, Isiogwugwu village, insisted that the elders had chosen who would lead but some politicians have continued fighting to install their stooge, using their contacts in government, while trying to intimidate the people.
“The elders of this community, under the aegis of Oke-Okpa Amanuke and Irunese Amanuke, had invited them to the residence of Chief Anaemene the eldest man in the community in whose home we usually hold our meetings. We wanted them to explain to us their roles in this community but they came and insulted us. They said that they were in government and as such had powers to do whatever they liked and damned the consequences.
“The other man, a doctor, insulted us and left. One of them called himself ‘the cane that flogs Amanuke community.’ They have been using law enforcement agencies to intimidate us. It is sad that they are doing all this.
“We have had to go to the police to find out where we erred. But the police chief, considering our ages and the allegations against us, laughed over the matter and asked us to go home.”
In like manner, Mr. Angus Dike (Nnawulu), decried the level of decay in the community, which he blamed on the tussle over the traditional stool. He was unhappy that a certain N20 million Choose-Your-Project Initiative of the state government, through which the community was to build a civic centre, was hijacked by some people. He disclosed that the community had earlier built something similar through communal efforts and had no need for such facility.
A woman leader who pleaded anonymity called on troublemakers in the community to give Ezebuilo a breather, describing him as a man committed to the good of the community.
“Here is a man who in 2014, paid N700,000 being WAEC and NECO and school fees of all our SS3 students. He provided electric poles and high tension cables, which ran from Oraukwu village down to Enuagu and Anyabala, worth several millions of naira.
“He has equally empowered youths here to start their own business and lifted the financial burden of some people in need. The community considered all these before approaching him to be our king” she said.
When newsmen visited the community recently, it was discovered that Amanuke General Hospital was in ruins, its premises overgrown with bush.
The 150-bed facility had a two-storey building and five bungalows in it. But it is in various stages of disuse following the crisis in the community. The facility had no equipment and has become home to rodents, reptiles and domestic animals. Hoodlums usually went there to defecate and the carcass of dead animals littered the buildings. Some residents told reporters that some youths had been engaging in immoral activities at the place.
Daily Sun gathered that the hospital was constructed through communal effort between 1978 and 1983 and handed over to the state government. It was inaugurated by the then governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo.
Even the primary health centre in the community was a shambles. About two bungalows in it have collapsed completely while others are rundown. There was no sign of any activity in the only block still standing, just as there were no health workers or patients in sight.
At the community’s lone secondary school, nine of 12 buildings in the compound were in a decrepit condition.
Mrs. Grace Okafor from Umueze village told journalists that the residents were living in agony. She lamented that, for more than 20 years, the general hospital in the town had been abandoned by the government.
“Our roads, hospital, primary health centre, secondary school, market and others are all dilapidated.
“Amanuke community is one of the major food baskets of Anambra State but we have never received any form of support from the government. We only hear on radio that government supports agriculture,” she said.
Another resident, Mrs. Uju Onwunili, from Eziama Quarters, lamented that “some of us go to faraway Okpuno community in Awka South, about eight kilometres away, to register for ante-natal because our health facilities are no longer functional.”
The pioneer transition committee chairman for Awka North council area, Mr. Ebenezer Okafor, lamented that roads in the area, especially the one leading to Awka, were a nightmare.
Before filing this report, all calls and text messages sent to the Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta, requesting him to respond to the state of things in Amanuke were not replied.