Perhaps, if man was to chose his place if birth, and origin, certainly not many would have chosen to come from their place. If not because nature has being unkind to them, but because man have decided to treat his follow man like animals. Even monkeys are better for at least they may have their needs or be allowed to go back to the forest. It is worse when such treatment comes from your own race, especially if they are from the same geographical locations and even drink from the same river.
The people of Opehi / Umukoro, a community in Ozuzu autonomous community in Ngor Okpala local government area in Imo state, for many decades have remained voiceless. The very high level of illiteracy among the people has been a disadvantage to their neighbouring communities and even though their very few sons who managed to learn to write their names which gave them the opportunity to represent them at the local government level, it seemed to be a threat to their development.
It is very interesting to know that Ngor-Okpala is known as the food basket of Imo state, but it pains the heart to know that one of the few communities that made Ngor-Okpala the food basket of the state is Opehi /Umukoro, but the people find it very hard to mention even one basic amenity. Is it motorable road, a health care centre, market, electricity, running water? Not to mention a single secondary school to educate their children and wards.
This is a community that their forefathers worked very had to ensure that their offspring will have something to rely on and even develop more economically, technologically, social etc. I find it hard to discover any community in Imo State that have the kind of agricultural products that are abound in Opehi / Umukoro. Are we to take from the rubber trees plantation, the pineapple orchard, the palm tree that one man has claimed ownership at the expense of the poor and voiceless community which covers many hectares of land?
The people are highly blessed with a very fertile land good for the production of cassava, cocoyam, maize, melon, corn, vegetables, wild fruits. Even the Shell company has always been around in search of the national treasure called crude oil etc.
The heterogeneous states of Nigeria, no doubt created room for sentimental skirmishes across the length and breath of Nigeria. The government of Nigeria has constitutionally tried to allay the fears of the minority in a country so tribally divided, but much as the government has been doing it, its best through the instrumentality of federal character principle, the evil of marginalization has continued to rear its urgly head across the country.
The creation of states in the country is one of the ways through which people who felt dominated in a particular state or local government to take their own destiny into their own hands. Ngor-Okpala as a local government in Imo State is supposed to be a channel through which those at the grassroots will fill the impact of the governance. But those inhabiting Opehi/Umukoro under Ngor-Okpala local government in Imo State are not given this opportunity by being provided with the essential needs as mentioned above.
What is obtainable in Opehi/ Umukoro is a story of a people systematically denied of equal right and privilege in a nation, state and locality they call theirs. A people whose fate is stunted, stricked, captive and paralyzed politically, socially economically and educationally by people who are supposed to be their brothers. People not allowed to catch the spirit of governance, they live somewhere around it but not of it. Imagine such injustice and inhumanity against a fellow man. Do you relieve someone from hunger by merely giving the person eba (garri) without soup to swallow it?
Around 2006 a Japanese company was given the contract to install solar electricity to the rural communities which the people of Ophei/Umukoro managed to be remembered. Yes, the people were happy believing that their messiah has finally arrived at least to redeem them from the bondage of darkness. Little did they know that they were once again being used and exploited by the federal government of Nigeria.
Yes, I am a bonafide indigene of this politically beriefed community, therefore I will not fail to expose evil when it is available. Every well thinking electrician talk less of an engineer knows that solar systems electrical energy gives the type of current called direct current, this direct current is not very common among Nigeria elites talks, less of my rural people. It is also a known fact that basically 99.9% of our electrical appliances in the Nigerian market makes use of what is called alternating current. Then, installing a direct current for a rural farmer whose interest is to watch television, listen to radio, iron his cloths and easily buy his 40, 60, 1000 and 200 watts bulb from the next shop is basically useless without installing the inverta which converts the direct current (D.C) to alternating current (A.C).
The so-called Japanese contractors in connection or agreement with the project supervisors only installed, a battery of 12V, the solar panel of 24V, 10AMPS, 150WATT for each building not minding the number of rooms or occupants, and of course the regulator. This, to those who are electrically inclined, is just a direct current of low voltage. And alternating current appliances are very common. In other words, the said installed electricity to the voiceless Opehi/Umukoro community remains useless to the people even as the direct current bulbs installed are now bad and no replacements are available. Worst of all, there are no trained technicians to manage the facilities. To further deceive the people, a transformer was given to them around 2004/2005. Untill now not even a single wire or cable has gone up yet the nearest community umuagwu which is just a stone throw enjoys electricity.
Oh! What an injustice to the voiceless people of Opehi/Umukoro? I understand that we have illiteracy in my community, but that is not enough reason why my people must continuously be deceived. This is not why during elections, elements called politicians would just come and paint our six rooms community primary school which was built by our fathers who meant well for us, this should not be the reason why politicians continuously deceive my people especially our mothers with cups of N5.00 salt.
If silence is all it takes for an injustice of this magnitude to perpetuate, it is time to break it. It is a long way to go, but the essence of a step in thus journey of miles need not be over emphasized. This situations need to be purveyed for all and sundary to see, especially authorities at the state and federal level.
All the members of Opehi/Umukoro community and the generations yet unborn face an unpleasant and bleak socio-political education and economic future if this dangerous trend is not corrected. Infrastructural development is rarely extended to them. The community is never considered in the sitting of government institutions even amidst abundant natural resources like palm trees, rubbers, pineapple, land, rivers, etc.
The collateral impact of this age long premeditated atrocity is perceptible in all spheres of human endeavour in the community. Critical infrastructural base is lacking the economic development is at its lowest ebb while unemployment especially among the youth is the order of the day. There is no home- grown institution to engage the teeming number of young men ad women in the community. The result is yearly mass exodus of people to cities in search of green pastures which is must cases they over stress themselves while some die very prematurely in the hands of their masters. Others stranded at home engage in various antisocial vices as a way of survival.
If democracy is a game of the masses, it is simply does not obtain in Opehi/Umukoro community. We are seriously in need of a secondary school, to educate my fellow youths. Please, the transformer given to my voiceless community is fastly rusting without function. My people in high extent may be illitrates, but certainly not foolish or lazy. Let our electricity be installed to enable us to exploit our potential. At least enable us to operate and build more of our oil mills and the people of Imo State and Nigeria at large will benefit. Since God has given us that grace, we need a road to get there.
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