Saturday, 21 March 2015

Abandoned Anambra community within Awka Capital Territory …Where Politicians Rig Elections

 Exclusively from Okechukwu Chris Onuegbu 
Although I lost my camera which I used in taking pictures of the report on my way back via Okada...I hereby present you with the report

In this 21st century, it may be hard to believe that Awka, the capital of Anambra State, which came into existence upon creation of the present Anambra State in 1991, still harbour a community where there is neither a public secondary school nor hospital. The community, which was recently discovered by our reporter, Okey Chris, is Ezinato.
Ezinato community in Awka South Council Area of Anambra State is among the communities in Awka Capital Territory Development Authority Board headed by 9-man committee under the leadership of Mr. Chike Egwuatu.
The Board was constituted by Governor Willie Obiano alongside the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency under the leadership of the traditional ruler of Umuoji, Igwe Cyril Igweze in order to champion the course of lifting the state capital to Dubai standard.
Structurally, Ezinato has three villages; Ntoko, Ndi-Ikpa and Ndiora, but politically falls within Obizi (Awka South 2 State Constituency currently represented by Hon. Harford Ikechukwu Oseke, the Majority Leader of the Anambra State House of Assembly and second tenure candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, on the 2015 poll).
Although less than an hour drive from the state temporary government house located along Enugu/Onitsha Expressway, the deplorable road condition of Ezinato town could knot you on the way for almost two hours or more.
However, the ongoing construction of Amansea/Ezinato/Ndiukwuenu/Awa Road connecting Ufuma in Orumba North LGA might remedy the situation once completed, but flagging off another road leading the town to her closest neighbour-Isiagu town (also in Awka Capital Development Authority) which shares common boundaries with Umuawulu and Nibo, would definitely add a tinge.
In a tour round the community, Daily Times discovered two public primary schools; Oraebeke and Central School; one private Secondary School, Divine Secondary School; and one maternity at Ndikpa, both in sorry mood.
At present, electricity which came to the town in 2010 during the tenure of erstwhile Governor Peter Obi remains the government presence in the agrarian community.
But the most frustrating history of Ezinato was that the town was teamed-up with another town, Isiagu to form an electoral ward (Isiagu/Ezinato ward), even though her prominent sons and daughters in government are Hon. Chike Ezeudu Councillor representing Ezinato/Isiagu ward at Awka South legislative chamber, Engr. Humphrey Emeka Nwafor, the State Chairman, Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB), among others.
Similarly, these densely populated people are predominant farmers; producers of palm oil, fish, garri (cassava flour), abacha (African salad), yams and so on.
According to our findings, Ezinato was renowned by her great deity, ‘Ofe’, situated at Ntoko village; hence it was popularly addressed as “OFE NTOKO”, gods so much feared by the Igbos of Southeastern Nigeria.
However, the town now inhibits over 60% Christians and Churches including the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Assembly of God Mission.
Speaking to Daily Times, Comrade Stephen Iloh, the Secretary General of Ntoko Development Union, described Ofe and Agwu deities as gods of cleansing, purification and sanctification.
“Ofe used to be the most renowned powerful deity in the Eastern part of the country. People from far and near normally pay homage to the god on every Eke and Afor Market days… Before the invasion of the Europeans, according to my father, Ntoko used was a-town with 7 villages and very observant of nso arusi (things forbidden by the gods). The gods forbade murder, poisoning, stealing, robbery, and others. And anyone who contravenes instantly dies mysteriously”, he said.
“As a result, our people were so much respected. There was no such abominable acts prevalence in modern societies today. But as soon as whiteman culture (westernisation) dominate, things fall apart, and the gods turned against us. Many reportedly died sequel to the wrath of gods for been immoral, and they scamper for safety at neigbouring towns. This and slave trade reduced our population to a village now in Ezinato”, he added.
Comrade Iloh further enumerated the cultural festivities in the community to include Igo nmou, imechi (mostly involving women), onwasato (month for celebration of the masquerade, culture and tradition at its peak), which he claimed was previously celebrated around January in the past but now rescheduled to hold on Christmas (between December 27th to 30th) so as to witness mass participation.
On lack of social amenities in the town, he added that his people has neither a secondary school nor hospital/health centre, exception of an obsolete edifice branded maternity centre at Ndikpa, which according to him, lacks functional materials and a nurse to address patients.
Our reporter could not find a single soul to address him upon arrival to the disfigured building with no signboard claimed to be a maternity at Ndikpa.
Sequel to the anomaly, Iloh lamented that Ezinato people have to travel all the way to Amansea, Awka or Ebenebe; about two hours journey in search of health practitioners and medications, adding that the health centre being built by Ntoko Development Union in 2005 was yet to receive government presence.
On his part, Chief Edwin Nwankwo, one term President General of Ezinato Town Union and current Traditional Prime Minister (Onowu) Ezinato alluded the cause of their status quo to political instability and crash of interest.
Chief Nwankwo, who doubles as the Catechist of St. Paul’s Catholic Church Ntoko, said that Hon. Harford Oseke, representing them at the state Assembly had never for once visit them with a view to discovering or addressing their plights.
He also reiterated the needs for the state government to carve them out of Isiagu Ward, and further divide the town into 3 wards, stressing that their people and voice were under represented.
He however, maintained that the relationship between the traditionalists and Christians in the community is cordial, as they attend same meetings, harvests and bazaars, among other events separately held.
On the recent distribution of Permanent Voters Card (PVC), both stakeholders disclosed that two INEC officers visited the town one day and left within two hours without distributing up to 10% of the cards to the electorates.
They wondered how they could exercise their franchise in the 4 polling booths located in the community on March 28 and April 11 general elections, alleging that it was how the Anambra 2013 Local Government Election was rigged, because they were waiting for arrival of voting materials till the result of the said elections were announced at ANSIEC office in Awka
On the utilization of millions of naira, Ex-governor Peter Obi usually dished to President Generals of Town Unions and Traditional Rulers for palliative works on road each festive season, they told our reporter that it was among the things sparkling fire and crash of interest in Ezinato Town Union.
The Traditional Ruler, Igwe Timothy Nwachukwu Ezenwaka (ochiagha 2 of Ezinato) could not be reached to react on this developmental news at the time of filing this report, having travelled out of the town when our reporter came to his palace.
In opinion sampling, the people denied ever receiving micro loans for farming, fertilizers and others the governments said it distribute to rural farmers for mechanised agriculture.
All attempt by our reporter to hear the side of Hon. Harford Oseke and other persons mentioned in this report, including the Awka Territory Development Authority proved abortive as their Special Assistants refused our reporter access to them either in person or via phone calls.



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