Owukpa is thought to be essentially the most endowed group in Benue State with a tremendous quantum of pure sources. In addition to the abundance of coal deposit, the group is strategically located because it ‘sits’ and rubs ‘shoulders’ with Enugu State. Its location seems to be an edge for industrial motive. Its fertile soil is advantageous, besides that its persons are too poor to spend money on agriculture. In addition to the soil fertility, the group is surrounded by pure water our bodies. Awube stream runs by Eja, Ikwo, Ugbugbu, Ubafu and different villages, whereas Adu stream runs by Ibagba, Ukwu, Ai’Odu and different communities. That is helpful to each agriculture and development of dams.
Being a boundary group, Owukpa ought to have risen above your complete Ogbadibo Native Authorities Space which contains 3 districts – Otukpa, Orokam and Owukpa. Sarcastically, the group has remained for a number of years with out electrical energy, pipe-borne water and motorable roads.
A dying group
Just a few years in the past, efforts had been made at connecting the group to electrical energy. Right this moment, the group has gone again to square-one. Wires have disappeared from the poles, transformers have been resold, and the few ones left are mere relics. Some poles are nonetheless standing, whereas others have given methods, and are actually been used as native bridges throughout streams. Charging a telephone in the neighborhood that also struggles with 2G community is a Herculean job. Individuals pay generator homeowners to cost their telephones earlier than climbing on high of bushes or searching for open fields to make calls. It’s that unhealthy. The individuals have now resorted to visiting their common shrines known as Ekwanya to have the ability to combat vandals who sneak in at night time to steal the electrical energy wires losing away.
An nameless stated “Is it potential for us to have electrical energy ever on this group? It seems to be virtually unimaginable to me. I doubt we have now individuals representing us in authorities. What are they really doing there?”
One will understand that he’s heading to Owukpa after exiting Okpoga into the bumpy highway that throws one up and down as if you’re in a ship hit by the storm. The identical is the case if one is coming by Orokam or Obollo-Eke. In case you are a driver, automobile proprietor or visiting for the primary time, it will likely be nightmarish. By some means, you could get to your vacation spot however not with out checking with one or two mechanics at Obollo-Afor or Otukpa earlier than returning to base. However the bumpy roads terminate at Ukwo-Owukpa and Obollo-Eke. The remainder is snail-driving on roads with out asphalts. It is going to take hours to get to your vacation spot from Ukwo, a journey that ought to ordinarily take 10-Quarter-hour. This vividly captures the state of Owukpa roads. In the meantime, a effectively constructed highway terminates at its boundary with Obollo-Eke, Enugu State. One is tempted to say that the group is sadly beneath a spell to stay stagnant as a number of contracts awarded for the development of motorable roads within the district had been allegedly diverted by some politicians who consider that having meals on their particular person’s desk was higher than improvement on a bigger scale.
Dancing with loss of life
Within the twenty first century Nigeria, there exists a group and not using a single hospital or well being centres. In your complete district, no single purposeful hospital is standing, no authorities hospital and no commonplace well being centres are discovered round. Sarcastically, there’s a purposeful mortuary the place individuals dump lifeless our bodies whereas ready for elaborate burial ceremony. Avoidable deaths are widespread in Owukpa as individuals typically die of minor sicknesses, until they’re taken to distant Okpoga or Otukpa for therapy. Because of this, Owukpa individuals now take pleasure in burial thanksgiving than survival thanksgiving. In virtually each residence, a fantastically constructed grave with a catchy Epitaph stays conspicuous. The precedence is totally misplaced in loss of life, as a substitute of dwelling. Driving by the stony Anumachogwu, a good friend requested, ‘’how come you could have lovely tombs in each residence, and the homes are poorly constructed,’’ and I battled to provide a struggling reply. It was apparent his query was not answered on the finish of my battle. If you wish to be a profitable businessman in Owukpa, personal a mortuary.
A youth chief, Augustine Okpe, often known as Buzee explains the well being scenario in Owukpa. He stated, “Peculiar headache kills individuals in Owukpa. We live a canine’s life. Dying means nothing to us in the mean time. If there’s an emergency, and we’re to hurry the individual to far-away Okpoga, which highway are we going to make use of? The place are the autos? We’ll normally tie the individual to the rider of a motorbike. The journey will take hours. At that essential time, it’s all concerning the individual’s luck. Many individuals don’t make it to the hospital. There are not any well being centres for major care. Many individuals had died in my fingers following an emergency. Are we a part of the Nigerian venture?,’’ he requested.
A lady chief, who doesn’t need her identify in print lamented the well being problem in the neighborhood. In response to her, different communities, particularly the neigbouring Enugu communities have left Owukpa far behind. She stated, ‘’we do virtually all the things at Obollo-Eke and Obollo-Afor, and we see issues for ourselves. How come our personal is totally different. I hear we have now traders mining our coal in the mean time, how has the group felt the impression. We’ll all come and be a part of you in Abuja. Life is changing into insufferable. The speed of deaths in Owukpa can’t be in comparison with different communities. It’s very unhappy,’’ she stated.
However there’s a fantasy that Owukpa was cursed by the colonial masters who had been allegedly manhandled by its extant group leaders through the creation of colonialism. This has, nonetheless, remained conjecture. In Okpokwu LGA axis is Okpoga which shares boundaries immediately with Ai- Ifam in Owukpa. Whereas Okpoga’s improvement is jet-like, Owukpa is transferring at a snail pace.
Reacting to the parable that Owukpa was cursed, a clergy who additionally pleaded nameless stated he doubts if there was any curse dragging the group backward. He, nonetheless, stated that the identical worry pushed Owukpa to arrange a liberation retreat of all denominations some years in the past, and ‘’then it was prophesied that no matter curse(s) which may have existed and liable for our backwardness had been damaged. We are able to’t proceed to say we’re beneath a curse. We’re our downside, simply as we additionally blame the federal government for neglecting us.’’
The struggling future
A visit to one of many group Secondary Faculties, Ibagba Owukpa, the place mining actions are ongoing revealed an apparent signal of abandonment. The one group faculty cited within the space was distressed and the buildings are on the verge of collapsing. One wonders the place college students will return to when faculty resumes.
Equally, one other common secondary faculty in Itabono, often known as ICSS, that had produced many graduates from the group has been deserted. Many of the buildings erected within the 80s are begging for renovation, and only some courses could possibly be seen nonetheless standing, threatening the way forward for younger individuals who depend on the varsity to pursue their secondary schooling.
At Ipole Ugbugbu, the one Authorities Secondary Faculty is sort of being run with out lecture rooms. In addition to the power problem confronting the varsity, the whole absence of presidency academics broke the center of this author. This author was informed that the one academics within the faculty are those briefly employed by some well-meaning people from the group who’ve been paying their salaries because the previous 3 years.
Additionally, the one major faculty in Ugbugbu has been utterly deserted as lecture rooms and the dilapidated buildings are actually used to uncommon goats and chickens. We can’t set up precisely if there are nonetheless academics within the faculty.
A individuals so divided
Shamefully, the people who find themselves purported to be united in opposition to these forces of backwardness are much more divided on the residence entrance. Sadly, their disunity is dangerously alongside political and lineage strains. This has additional compounded their tough scenario. Their positions on management have remained archaic, the worldviews smack of retrogression and their politics largely characterised by bitterness.
Investigation has revealed that the group within the twenty first century sees nothing mistaken in adhering to extant cultures and traditions, and are illiberal to cultural dynamism. Take as an illustration, there’s an ongoing management tussle in the neighborhood which stems from rotational and descent calculation. The management association doesn’t precisely give room to competence, oneness and progress. It dangerously divides the group alongside lineages. It encourages disunity and calculations are accomplished based mostly on ‘Itabone and Ehaje’ that are the 2 primary clans in the neighborhood. Underneath these two clans are households believed to be kids of a person who died a number of years in the past (Amuche Onomo). Because of this, some faculty of ideas are of the views that till the yoke of that sentiment is damaged, improvement can be virtually unimaginable because it’s widespread sense to say that ‘a home divided in opposition to itself can’t stand.’
Right this moment, what would have turn into a standard curiosity, now traits as people’ curiosity. What ought to have turn into an Owukpa curiosity, has turn into Itabono and Ehaje pursuits. The curiosity is additional divided even amongst totally different households rising from these clans. It’s the unhappy actuality of their existence as a individuals. At the moment, communities are in courtroom over who takes over the mantle of Oche’Owukpa (The normal chief). Although battle is essential in improvement, Owukpa’s personal comes with a lot bitterness that kills progress. We’re much more divided on improvement issues; reference could possibly be made to the present controversy on the mining actions in the neighborhood. Will Owukpa see gentle amid this turbulent wind? Solely time can clarify.
Ali Adoyi is a journalist and writes from Abuja.
Fb: Adoyi Abah Ali