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Ebenator Erosion Gully And Other Challenges: My Open Letter To Gov. Obiano

By Izunna Okafor

Your Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie M. Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, I wish to heartily congratulate you once again on your magnanimous victory in the hotly contested November 18th 2017 governorship election in the state.

I also wish to use this medium to extol your giant developmental strides and innovations in the state over last five years as the governor. Surely, you rank above the benchmark. At least being a Journalist accords me the privilege to know certain things about your governance that others may not know.

In particular, your Excellency, I wish to eulogize your unrelenting efforts on rural development across the state, and in championing the infrastructural facelift of the state. At least, evidences are there.

But your Excellency, in all these, I feel that my community, the great Ebenator Ozuluogu Ancient Kingdom in Nnewi South Local Government Area of your state is being cheated, ignored, neglected and uncared for; and the reason for that still appear vague and hazy to me and the other concerned citizens of the community.

As a matter of fact, Ebenator is one of the 10 communities that constitute Nnewi South Local Government, and one of the 177 communities that make up Anambra State; and thus an integral part of the state.

This therefore should entitle her and her citizens to any general dividend of democracy that is doled out to the state's communities, especially those in the hinterlands; thereby making us, as a community, to wonder why we seem to have been abandoned and overlooked thus far in the pool of our nasty plights and life-threatening challenges.

Your Excellency, Ebenator as a community is besieged and beleaguered by a plethora of challenges in the pool of which she has been wallowing over the years.

Thematically, the most cynosural and threatening among these gargantuan challenges is our Erosion Gully (Ibo Ebenator).

Ebenator Community has one of the deepest erosion gullies in the entire Anambra State and the Southeastern Nigeria as a whole.

The dangerous erosion gully, measuring over 120 ft deep from the normal topographical terrain, and with a length span of about 4.2 kilometers, has been one of the greatest challenges confronting and marring Ebenator community over the last two decades, and still counting.

It roots from a neighbouring community, Osumenyi and stretches down to the popular Ofala River in Ebenator. This erosion gully popularly known as "Ibo Ebenator" has guzzled lives of many innocent citizens, pulled and caved down many houses, (rendering many people homeless) destroyed many crops and farmlands (throwing many into hunger) and damaged properties worth millions of Naira (pauperized many).

Aside these, the gully has made impossible for people from Ubaha village to cross over to the other villages in the community at ease, as it willingly cut off the only closest and trekkable access road, and even recently ate half of the only tarred road in the community, warming to cut it also.

Even the government-owned Community Central School Ebenator and the lives of the innocent children who school there are now under severe threat, as the gully has succeeded in eating up part of the school, and swiftly advances to grab the school building.

In fact, some community members do not sleep in their houses anymore for the fear of being swept off especially this rainy season that it rains heavily and repeatedly.

Your Excellency, I vividly recall that by 17th September this year, it will be exactly five years you approved the sum of N300m for tackling of the same erosion gully, as was reported on Vanguard Newspaper of 18th September 2018

( https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vanguardngr.com/2014/09/obiano-approves-n300m-tackle-ebenator-erosion-menace/amp/ ).

But up till now, nothing has happened, except that the problem has aggravated, as the gully has now escalated wider and got dangerously deeper. Just after a few paroxysm of activities and currently there's no work at the site in the last two years,

The worst and most fearful of it all is that the deepest and long-abandoned water-filled well in the community which was the first project constructed for the people by the then British Government is now under a serious threat as the erosion gully now speedily escalates close to it. And this would be very dangerous to the indigenes of the community as it may lead to an outbreak of epidemics, or cause unquenchable water to forever gush out of the well when it is finally affected.

Before now, I had severally written on and called the attention of the government at different levels to this decade-long issue, the most recent of which was when I wrote a feature article on the topic:

'Anambra State At 27: Challenges, Opportunities And The Prospects' which was published on the National Light Newspaper of 27th August, 2018

( https://www.nationallightngr.com/2018/08/27/anambra-state-challenges-opportunities-and-prospects/ ) and other media platforms ( https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thenigerianvoice.com/amp/news/269903/anambra-state-challenges-opportunities-and-the-prospects.html ).

Of course, I do not forget the fact that your administration has also signed out several contracts for control of some erosion sites in different parts of the state. At least I still remember vividly that sometime around this period (May 23rd) last year, you signed N9b contract with Chinese Firm for control of six erosion sites in different locations across the state through counterpart funding, involving World Bank, Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Environment and the state. And works are considerably ongoing at some of those sites now.

Your Excellency, this is what we want to see you replicate on Ebenator erosion gully (Ibo Ebenator), which is now worse than a Death Trap as I pointed out in another similar article I published last year on the gully ( https://m.thenigerianvoice.com/news/257819/ebenator-erosion-gully-now-a-death-trap.html ).

It is unfortunate to note that irrespective all these publications, the Senator who represents us at the Red Chamber still skipped and did not remember to include us in their plan when he and other senators in the state were making case for control of erosion menace in the state, through the proposed visit to various erosion sites by the Ecological Fund Office and National Emergency Management Agency, which will kick off soon.

It is also unfortunate that our former representative in the state judiciary and immediate past speaker of the house did not also speak for us in that regard throughout her tenure in the house.

Summarily therefore, Your Excellency, we the people of the community urgently need and plead with you to run to our rescue, and involve other concerned authorities, as this may soon deteriorate into a generational problem if not properly and urgently handled.

Akpọkuodike, anyị akpọkuola gị na mkpà anyị; lụọrọ anyị ọgụ a ka dike...

Indeed, this is an SOS from Ndi Ebenator..
Aside this, other inexorable challenges confronting our community include:

2. Bad Road Network:
This is another big challenge that Ebenator community is facing till today. The main access road into and out of the community has not been motorable for over two decades now, being a road constructed in the fall of first republic, the asphalt of which has completely worn out, leaving only the tired slippery mud that has proudly caused many accidents.

The Ebenator portion of this road is about 1.5 kilometers long, connecting the town with other neighbouring communities like Osumenyi and Ukpor, the local government headquarter, but it has now become a death trap to motorists, cyclists and even pedestrians, especially at night hours, because there are no streetlights on the road.

Recently, armed robbers have started taking ill advantage of the situation, by snatching and robbing people of their motorcycles and hard earned resources on the road at night, especially down the Ofala River side, as everywhere is usually dack and slippery. Such case of theft have been repeatedly recorded in the community in this recent time, and this is quite antithetical as well as constitute a great threat to your laudable security architecture in the state. Hence, operation Light Up Anambra should be urgently extended to this place.

Your Excellency, let me also use this medium to remind you that work has since stopped at the Ofala Ebe Bridge which (through this same aforementioned road) links Ukpor and Ebenator; and the contractors are nowhere to be found.

This road, the full name of which is Okija-Ihembosi-Afor Ukpor-Ebenator-Ezinifite Road was also covered and approved in the 2017 Capital Budget of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with the code FMOWP51908799 to the tune of N512,840,000.00 (five hundred and twelve million, eight hundred and forty thousand Naira).

But up till today, the road is still one the most hideous and shabby in the entire state, especially the Ebenator portion of it.

We therefore humbly seek that you wade into this road problem and bring a perpetual end to it, to avert the community and other road users all these negative effects that spill from it.

3. Electricity:
Your Excellency, sometime few years ago, there was a consummate blackout throughout Ebenator, as the people of community did not for once glance at a shine of electric current for almost three years and half years.

To the glory of God, this was eventually restored through series of interventions from different angles.

Currently, this same problem is gradually sprinting in again, as the people now have light for only a maximum of three times or less in a month, and yet will be presented with a spurious bill at the end of every month, the repudiation of which will amount to an instant snithing of the person's electric cable by the visibly cantankerous men of the EEDC.

And all these have adverse impingements on the economic life of the community and the standard of living of her citizens, especially the poor rural dwellers and nascent/upcoming entrepreneurs who do not have enough money to go for the alternative.

We therefore also humbly seek your government's intervention both in solving the problems of epileptic power supply in the community, and providing the people of the community with prepaid meters to enhance quality and fairness, in both power supply and bill charged for the same.

4. Inclusiveness in Governance:
Your Excellency, it is lamentable to say that since almost 28 years ago that Anambra State was created, and for over five years that your administration has been on board in Anambra State; none of the industrious and ever-resourceful sons and daughters of Ebenator has been found worthy to be appointed a Commissioner, an SSA, SA or even PA; while other neighbouring communities in the Local Government have repeatedly tasted such positions and even the higher ones.

Ọ kwàdị Igbo kwùrù na ọ naghị adị mma a họrọ ụmụ-ụmụ e gbuo ha ichi, họrọ ụmụ-ụmụ, chie ha ọzọ ?

Who then did we offend, and what offence have we committed that we would continue to remain and be treated like this in our own state....?

A ga-ejizị maka na nwanza ahaghị kà òbù wee ghara inye ya òhèrè ka o yie àkwá ka ibe ya ?

Akpọkuodike Global, it is therefore on this note that we, Ndi Ebenator, in addition to the above detailed requests also humbly seek that, at least, one of our sons or daughters be considered and given a chance to serve his fatherland and our dear state under your government, by way of appointment.

E kéwọ nwata nyé íbè ya, na-ebutekwanụ obi mgbọwa, maka na ọ na-abụkwanụ e mee nwátà ka e mèrè íbè ya, obi adị ya mma.

Your Excellency, as you look into these, I wish to, on behalf of Ndi Ebenator, appreciate you for the N20m Community Choose Your Project, which the community has so far immensely benefited from, and with which we have unanimously solved some of our problems not highlighted here.

We hope that such gesture be sustained, due to the numerous testimonies that accompany, given that it doesn't only ensure that presence of the government is felt in every community across the state, but has also helped to boost rural development evenly.

Your Excellency, as I drop my pen, I anticipate my message reaches you, and thus look forward to receiving your positive responses, by way of giving prioritized attention to each of these issues highlighted above, as I have told the world our problems with pen.

It is until then that I shall also pick up the pen and tell the world what you have done or have not done about the problems...

Thank you for patiently reading.
Yours In Ebenator
Izunna I. Okafor
(Novelist, Poet, Journalist, Essayist, Columnist, Publicist, Editor and Igbo Language Activist)