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Peter Obi’s Political blunders : Nzam most neglected community in Anambra • Pregnant mothers deliver at home • Hospital, electricity, pipe borne water and good roads rare • Bicycle a major source of transportation.

nzam Anambra

In this age of globalization and technological innovations, some  communities still exist as in the Stone Age era where all the modern  amenities of life are absent and citizens rely on nature and human  natural instincts to survive.
Nzam Community, the headquarters of Anambra West Local Government,  Anambra State fits into the above description.  A recent trip to the  community by the reporter confirms the lyrics of the song by Afro beat  legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti that some people are “suffering and  smiling.”   A land so blessed with rich agricultural produce but yet  wallows under the throes of underdevelopment and government neglect.
In Nzam, most children have never seen electric light since they were  born, while access to clean water, hospitals or accessible roads is  like a luxury often dreamt of by the people but yet to feel it.
A turbulent two and half hours sail through the River Niger by boat  from the Niger Bridge Head brought the reporter to the precincts of the  community.  On berthing and anchoring at the bank of the river, one is  confronted with weary villagers loading and offloading agricultural  products behind mud houses and thatched roofs.
A narrow swampy road from the river bank leads to the community  accessed by trekking or boarding of commercial cycle a major  preoccupation of the youths in the area who have lost interest in  farming.
Though there were few electric poles fixed on the narrow road which  connects the local police post and an empty Health Post, the first  response one gets on asking where to charge one’s phone battery through  the public power source is a jolt on the real situation.
“My brother, maybe you are in a dream land,” the Okada rider  said. “Ever since I grew to maturity, I’ve never seen electric light  from NEPA here. These electric poles you see now are just fancy  decorations on the road because that is where it ends. We have no light  and our people only travel to Onitsha by boat to get the diesel, which  we use to power our rice milling plants.  There is no telephone network  too as you may have noticed that your phone has lost service as you  alighted from the boat. We are like people living in another planet and  what they do is to visit us with empty promises whenever election time  is approaching. That is all we see or get from them,” he lamented.
At the market square, though it was a work day and schools were in  session, many children were seen playing by the heap of sand beside the  community rice grinding mill.   Farmers coming back from their rice farm  all conveyed the yet-to-be-parboiled rice on bicycles. The local  government secretariat, which was accessed by the reporter on a  motorcycle through another narrow path with streams and locally made  bridges, was like a ghost place.
The sign post bearing the inscription “Anambra West Local Government  Headquarters, Nzam” was swallowed by grasses that it becomes difficult  to view the signpost from afar. The secretariat, though deserted had  some nice buildings. The old secretariat complex commissioned on 18th  February 1999 was built by the military administration of Uwakwe Ukaegbu  in Anambra. On enquiry about the state of affairs in the local council,  a staffer who pleaded anonymity alleged  that the members of the  transition council of the local government reside in Onitsha and only  visit once in month when their entitlements is released by the state  government. He said they immediately return to Onitsha in their  speedboat after sharing the booty for the month.

‘Our local government is the worst in Anambra’
An executive member of the town union, Kenneth Nwabunwanne in a chat with Sunday Sun described their local government area as the worst in Anambra State.
“During the flood crisis in 2012, our community was ravaged beyond  proportion and we are yet to recover from the immense destruction. But  before the flood disaster, we were living as the dregs of the society  here. We have a health center but nothing is inside so it is more like a  monument. When people fall sick, we are at the mercy of patent medicine  shops while there is no hospital or qualified doctors to handle  emergencies.  We have no road and because of that, we are cut off from  the rest of Anambra communities. There is no trade connection between us  and others because of lack of access roads while those who can access  this place through the river are very much limited. Our needs are  numerous that we don’t know where to begin itemizing them but all I can  say is that this place is the worst local government in Anambra State.”
Elizabeth Maduneme, a mother of five voiced the pains of mothers in  the community thus: “Just last week, we lost a woman during childbirth,  infant and child mortality is very high here because of absence of  medical facilities. The woman had complications after delivery at home  and before we could make arrangements to convey her to Onitsha, she  died. We don’t have roads, water and light.  All of us are basically  farmers here and we cultivate yam, rice and cassava in large quantities  but we don’t get encouragement from any quarter. During the rainy season  it is bye – bye to Onitsha unless you can use boats but if not, we are  cut off completely,” she lamented.
A community and its unique culture
Nzam community is the Ijam and Igala speaking part of Anambra State.  It is made up of seven villages, comprising of Etakolo, Odobo,  Udda,  Urubi,  Enekpa , Ndiokpoliba and Echa.
Despite suffering from government neglect, the people are a happy  people steeped in various cultural and traditional festivities and are  happy for that. An elder in the community, Chife Amekwe told Sunday Sun the historical origin of the community and its cultural activities.
“The natives of Nzam were the descendants of General Ajida, a notable  warrior of Idah origin in Kogi State. Ajida is the father of Field  Marshal Ogbe who was married to Iyida Ogbe and Iyida had five  children-Nzam, Anam, Anaku , Oloshi and Okpanam. Ogbe and his family  lived around Ankpa in Igala Kingdom.  When the Apa and Jukun warriors  invaded the Igala communities, Field Marshal Ogbe along with many others  retreated with their families through the present Ibaji jungle moving  Southwards along the course of the River Niger.  As they journeyed  through their way, various children of Ogbe for one reason or the other  settled themselves at their present locations. This movement from the  Igala Kingdom explains the fact that there are Odobo , Enekpa, Igah ,  Iyano towns in both Ibaji local government area of Kogi State and also  in Nzam town in Anambra West Local Governent Area of Anambra State.
“Between January and June, we have festivals like Ugwolegwu, Edo onu  Ananwulu and Enachune.  In the month of January we call on the earth  goddess to bless the children and bless our crops. The Ugwolegwu  festival has to do with masquerades. It is more of masquerade feasts  celebrated with different soups and rich fish sauces.
Enachune is the Iwa ji yam festival.  We do it religiously because  without that, the yam will purge us if we don’t mark the festival.  The  new yam festival proper takes place in August and we call it Uchuero.   By December, we mark the Eka ceremony which is more of thanksgiving to  God for life and bountiful harvest,” he said.

‘Only Peter Obi administration remembered us but we want more’
While the people of Nzam regret the seeming underdevelopment and deprivation of the area, many of the residents who spoke to Sunday Sun said that the entire local government area was like a totally forgotten  enclave before the Peter Obi administration. A list of projects done by  the Obi administration for the local council obtained at the local  government secretariat by the reporter included “Umueze Mmiata Anam road  under construction, Iyiora Anam health center, new bridges at Utolu,  Oroma etiti  Anam and egonwa bridge at Nzam, solar powered borehole at  the local government secretariat, Nzam and completed Magistrate Court at  Umueze Anam among others.
Jonathan Nwafee in a reflection on the development regretted that  most of the projects executed by the Obi administration in Anambra West  were sited outside Nzam, away from the local government headquarters. He  lauded Obi for the developmental strides but expressed optimism that  with the conclusion of the governorship and council polls in the state,  the governor-elect, Chief Willie Obiano and the new Local Government  Chairman in the area, Mr. Simon Mbanefo Okafor would give the area a new  sense of belonging in Anambra State.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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