Monday, 19 June 2017

Omasi: Anambra Community where indigenes access medicare in Enugu state

Front view of Afor Omasi Market
 By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Pains and regret could best describe the moods of indigenous people of Omasi and residents in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State, following a long term woes of abandonment and infrastructural paucity that pose challenges to the border community between Anambra, Enugu and Kogi states.

A visit to the area shows that the agrarian community with large expanse of arable land geographically divided into two unequal parts namely; Omasi Uno and Omasi Agu, has only three unarmed policemen at the Ayamelum Police outstation located at outskirts of the community, along its boundary with other states. What is worse, the outstation is overgrown with grasses, an indication that the police may not be using the structure.

Principal, USS Omasi
According to the President-General, Omasi Town Union, Mr. Cyprian Ike, “Our police outstation is nothing to write home about. They need to be equipped because none of the three officers deployed to serve here has a gun. They only have baton. If not the vigilante, it may be difficult for us to live here.
Back view of Omasi community hospital

“They need to be equipped because none of the three officers deployed to serve here has a gun. They only have baton. If not the vigilante, it may be difficult for us to live here.

“You know that sometimes, some people from the communities we share boundaries with invade our land to attack us. Omasi shares boundaries with Kogi and Enugu state communities such as Iga, Asaba, Adani, Ukpata and Uburu.
USS Omasi

“We fought with Igala people in 1991to 1994. But we are at peace now. I know how to relate with them peacefully having been a community leader for 14 years. Our land is secured by our vigilante. They recently apprehended four hoodlums for stealing a motorcycle. The victims are currently cooling in jail.”
Abandoned Omasi MDGs Water project


No part of Omasi could boast of electricity power supply though every part of it has some pleasant and unpleasant testimonies of government presence and abandonment. For instance, Omasi Agu has asphalted road network linking it to Umueje; a public secondary and primary schools, Universal Secondary School (USS); and Omasi Migrant Primary School; and private, John Odenigbo Memorial Secondary School.
President General, Omasi Town Union 
Rate of infrastructural decay in USS Omasi

Universal Secondary School (USS), Omasi happened to be the only public owned post primary school in the area that serve the community and neighbourhood.

Most structures in the institution are grossly dilapidated and lack maintenance.
Staff and students of the school, in a chat with, lamented the infrastructural decay and lack of manpower that threatens its existence.

According to them, the school was founded in 1999, but has been without a complete school building for four years after windstorm blew off the roofing sheets of the main block.

It was reliably gathered that the school has three blocks; Block ‘A’ and ‘B’ that accommodate junior classes 1-3, SSS 1-3, and administrative block, housing the principal’s office, staffer room, laboratory and the school library.  

However, only the administrative block is in good shape as the block ‘B’, which is barely one year old, accommodates all the students despite its dilapidated nature with substandard doors and windows, perforated ceilings and roofing sheets that expose students and teachers to scorching sun and heavy downpour whenever it shines or rains.

According to the school principal, Mr Odoemenem Emmanuel, the dilapidated structures have rendered the buildings and environment useless for effective teaching and learning.

“For four years now, our students are finding it very difficult to study during the wet and dry seasons. The anomaly is making us to lose population every term. We now have a total of 108 students. Some parents and guardians, who could not bear the consequences of exposing their children to the challenges, always withdrew their wards from the school.

 “We even lost NECO and WAEC centres. It was intervention of Omasi, our host community, that is currently sustaining us as WAEC centre. The town also declared free education for all our students, indigenes and non-indigenes alike. It was in the 2012 that I built the Block A building that was blown off by windstorm. The project was funded by ex-governor Peter Obi’s N10 million school development grant. This administrative block was equally constructed the same period.

“But this block B that was constructed barely one year ago was executed by an outside contractor. The contractor used substandard equipment, including perforated ceilings and roofing sheets in executing the project. I have written to the state education commission several times to come to our rescue but they are yet to respond. Please, help us talk to the government. We need their help,” he said.

He further pointed out that the school was in dire need of Physics and Geography teachers, security, portable water, electricity and perimeter fencing in order to secure its human and material resources, including its students and staff.

“We are appealing to the state government to deploy qualified physics and chemistry teachers to our school. We have school laboratory but it needs to be retooled with qualified teachers to make it functional. We also need ICT building where computer and data processing practical classes shall be taking place. There is also need to present us with electricity because we spend huge amount of money powering our generating set during practical.

“Our school library needs expansion as our population increases. But we must commend the state government for equipping the library with books and other relevant materials. However, lack of security is making it impossible for us to keep most of our lab, library and other expensive materials in the school. You know the school is at the outskirt and lonely place with neither security nor perimeter fencing to protect it. Also affecting us, is lack of potable water. Our students usually trek far away at ‘Obinna’ stream to fetch water for their various need,” he added.

Interestingly, the numerous challenges facing the school has not affected the students’ academic performances. Odoemenem said that USS performed excellently in external and internal examinations. However, they find it difficult to participate in inter-school quiz, debate and other competitions holding outside Ayamelum council area due to lack of funds or sponsorship.

Mr Nwakeze Hilary, VP administration, further revealed that the absence of SS3 class who had passed out following the completion of their SSCE made it possible for available classroom (which is also leaking) to contain their students.

“The SS 2 students are using the SS3 class since they finished their senior secondary school certificate examination. Had it been they are here, our SS2 students wouldn’t have occupied their class. They would be receiving their studies outside the classroom or wait to go into any class where there is no teacher handling a subject at any particular moment the class time-table demanded for a teacher. Meanwhile, we need more teachers to handle subjects like Animal Husbandry, Geography, Igbo language and Data Processing because those handling them are overloaded.”

Also speaking, Master Nwarieji Godwin of SS2 class, who doubles as the school Senior Prefect, passionately appealed to the state educational authority to hearken to their cry as they need enabling environment to learn from their teachers who were ever ready to cover their scheme of work.

However, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Benjamin Onukwube Okeji, Eze dioranma of Omasi, and Chairman, Ayamelum Traditional Rulers Council, assured his subjects that the school buildings would soon be rebuilt by the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who according to him is a good listener and lover of children and education.

Market, Water and Health

The community’s only medium of marketing its agro-produce, Afor Omasi market, could become history in no distant time if nothing is urgently done to address the state of decay buildings, roofing sheets and general environment are decrepit.

The community also lacked potable water supply and functional heath care system. Investigation revealed that people of the community have never fetched nor drank from the Omasi Water Scheme project which the Office of the Governor claimed to have completed in 2010 through Millennium Development Goals-Conditional Grant Scheme (MDGs-CGs). At time of filing this report, wild grasses had over grown the abandoned structure.

“We have never drank from this water project since it was proclaimed completed and commissioned. We even suspect that the water that was fetched from it during commissioning was filled by a tanker probably at night before the occasion.

“This is because no water had ever gushed out from the tap immediately the one in the two overhead tanks finished. As you can see, grasses have taken over the environment. Our major source of water from time immemorial is Obinna stream flowing some kilometres away from here,” Mr Cyprian Ike, the president-general, Omasi Town Uninon told

It was further learnt that the Omasi Primary Health Centre, a community project, executed by the community 20 years ago and handed over to Anambra State Ministry of Health, is currently begging for government attention. The facilities are ramshackle while insufficient manpower and material resources are non-existent.
Community chose your project built by Omasi Town Union

“We only have one health officer overseen the plight of the patients in this primary health care centre although the same thing is applicable to all the communities in Ayamelum council area. The local government area has only 17 health facilities and 22 health workers. There are also absence of drugs and other health materials to be administered on the sick” a civil servant and an indigene of Omasi told under condition of anonymity.

The President General of Omasi Town Union, Cyprian Ike sums it thus, “Our people travel to Enugu State for health related issues because our clinic is no more functional. Grasses and weeds are all over the place. The buildings are caving in on daily basis, most of the roofing sheets have gone off and frames are rotten. It also needs adequate health professionals and medications. I am begging government to give us volunteer health workers if need be. Our community built this project but handed it over to government over 20 years ago. I worked there as medical officer for six years before been transferred to Achalla, Awka north Local Government Area. I prayed our government will come to our aide.”


Omasi-Uno, the ancestral home of Omasi people from where some of their ancestors historically migrated to found the present Omasi-Agu, arable lands, agro-produce and vegetation are literally seeking for consumers and tourists as the non-motorable road has become a deathtrap, preventing the predominantly farmers from transporting their agricultural produce to the world.

It was, however, observed that the Anambra State government had sited a borehole, clinic and one health officer, market and a primary school, Community Primary School, while other reasonable private institutions in the densely populated area occupied by mostly poor farmers and families, and indigent citizens are individually owned.

On the other hand, both Omasi Uno and Omasi Agu, respectively have one magnificent town hall which the community built with the N20 million grant it received from Anambra State Government as the part of 2016 Community Choose Your Project Initiative the present administration of Governor Willie Obiano disbursed to 177 communities in the state.

Ike, a community based medical officer, said that the state government is trying having sited Excel Farm in the community.

“The state government gave us Excel Farm which is into mechanised agriculture, harvesting, processing and exporting of agric produce such as tomatoes, cassava, yams, vegetables and other things. This farm will create massive employment, raise the states IGR and also attract development to us as soon as it kicks-off activities. They are currently clearing the bushes to commence work.

“That is why we are begging His Excellency to provide us with accessible road. We don’t have road and that is why the Excel Farm is currently using Enugu road. They need to come to our help before those communities they are accessing their roads start claiming it as they are struggling to claim Omasi Farm settlement.

“But we remain indebted to the state government for providing us with borehole at Omasi Uno. We have also completed the projects we embarked upon with the N20m grant the state government disbursed to 177 communities in Anambra. We will soon organise a meeting to choose another project for the second round,” he added.

The president generally expressed optimism that the community was hopeful that it would soon be electrified in the ongoing rural electrification project in Ayamelum Council Area, which according to him, was abandoned due to activities of vandals.

He commended Governor Willie Obiano for appointing their sons and daughters into key positions in the state, among whom are Dr Paul Odenigbo, Secretary to State Emergency Service Commission (SEMA), Chairman of APGA Ayamelum Local Government Area.

“We also want to inform him that we have over 20 cooperative societies waiting for fertilizers and loans. You know we are predominant farmers. We shall do wonder if empowered with tractors, bulldozers and other mechanised farm equipment,” the PG explained.

Omasi Farm Settlement

The Omasi Farm settlement which is currently under contention with people of Uzouwani LGA of Enugu State but the Traditional Ruler of Omasi, affirmed that the land belongs to his people.

“Omasi was carved out of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State. It was then our farm settlement was renamed Uzo-Uwani farm settlement. I contested for Councillor in 1987. This was a time one of our tenants, Chief Robert Okutanyaegbu, an indigene of Enugu State was a former junior minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria. You know that in the past, those wiser than others strive to take over what does not belong to them. Robert having occupied our land for long, claimed that it now belonged to him.

“That land is 10, 381 hectares. He apportioned 1,977 of it to his people. Another 1,951 to Eziama Adani people, and 6,451 hectares to Omasi. The bone of contention now is the oil deposit discovered in the land. That is why they have come out to claim it again. But our working governor is not asleep. The Boundary Adjustment Committee will soon come to adjust the land,” he maintained.

On where Omasi people would vote in the 2017 gubernatorial poll, the monarch urged other contestants to gently step down as the community and others in Ayamelum Council Area were solidly behind Governor Willie Obiano’s re-election, whose dividends of democracy he claimed were numerous to mention and touch nooks and crannies of the council area.

Igwe Okeji, while praising the culture and tradition of Omasi kingdom, described them as “Peace loving people. Omasi is blessed with Ajana (blessed land) which forbids abominable acts like abortion, murder, robbery, adultery, etc. This is why we are always at peace with people.

“Obinna stream is our major source of water. We use it also as a source of irrigation. You need to attend our festivals, including new yam festival, ozo title, nze, umuogbaho, ogbuani, and others to view culture at its peak. Each celebration witnesses a mammoth crowd of people from all parts of the world.

“I celebrate my ovala (annual remembrance of his accession to the throne) every December 30. This year’s own would my 7th ovala and 17th my year on the throne as Igwe of Omasi. I will also confer titles on some deserving citizens of Nigeria and beyond, during the occasion. I use it to appreciate people who are distinguished in their chosen professions, careers and community works, and to encourage them to work harder.”



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