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Posts tagged ‘NEPA’

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.
FROM ALOYSIUS ATTAH, ONITSHA

Source: Radio Biafra.

Nigeria Dancing DISCO With Electricity By Prince Charles Dickson.


By Prince Charles Dickson

When question drop for mouth,
Question go start to run,
When answer drop for mouth,
Answer go run after am,

When answer jam question for road
Another thing go shele o, uh

Why you mash my leg for ground?
You no see my leg for road?

Question don drop for mouth,
Question don start to run,

Why you put your leg for road?
You no see say I dey come?

Answer don drop for mouth,
Answer don start to run,
Fela Anikulapo Kuti in Question Jam Answer

I got home weeks back, and on my study table was the power utility bill, it read N10,000.00K. Before I could finish studying it, my wife joined, and asked if it was the bill for the year or if we had stopped paying the bills.

I know that the consumption had been increased for a while, but I could not understand the ‘astronomical’ increase for a service that hasn’t been there in the first instance or at best been dancing disco when available.

So, the following morning, I was quick to make my way to the PHCN office, now Jos Electricity Distribution Company PLC (JED) permit me to call them JEDi-jedi…on getting there I discovered that I was just one of the many aggrieved customers.

Questions were flying everywhere, I remained calm till it was my turn, and the following conversation ensued.

Staff: Sir, how can I help you?

PCD: Madam, I do not understand this bill

Staff: Oooh, you wont sir, before government was subsidizing the amount you were paying, and they have stopped, so it is a reason.

PCD: (Trying so hard to be calm) what subsidy, how did it just jump from barely N3,000 to 10,000. Please madam something is not right.

Staff: Let me look at it again, (after a long glance) it looks like you were placed on estimate for this month, that is why.

Before I could talk, another dissatisfied customer shouted on her, “what nonsense! You told me the same thing, what then is the essence of having a meter, how do you place a whole community on estimation for electricity not consumed.”
I am an analog man, so don’t blame me, I still use the old meter, but it made no difference as persons on the new GSM like card system were asking questions, because some of them received bills. How was that possible, question jam answer?

In June 2013, I paid my bills via POS, and it did not reflect. I complained, I wrote letters, both close and open, I have screamed, I have begged but to no avail.

I was told the banks were at fault, later, I was told they had software issues, and then it was a case of  photocopy your bill, text your meter number, the only thing I was not asked for was my first school leaving certificate. Yet it is January 2014, and nothing has been done.

All these could be classified as collateral pains if after all there is power, but instead we are fed with the political gimmick of “…there is power for an average of 16 hours across major Nigerian cities” by Ngozi Iweala, Madam Minister for Finance.

It is ironic that only Ngozi, Labaran, and other government officials that experience electricity for an average 18 hours a day.

Most Nigerians applaud the fact that PHCN is dead, but many a Nigerian now craves for its resurrection, as the new DISCOS, at best have failed in the electric dance.

We are still in the NNPC said “there is no gas, we have supplied, and they did not pay”, era. Despite the best of efforts, most Nigerians do not understand the whole privatization, unbundling or fondling of power by those concerned.

We are an impatient nation but is this electricity matter not one that should have been done and dusted, why is it we still suffer high current—electric gadgets bear the brunt, no one is held liable, and then low current—you can barely see, so there is electricity but it cannot power a bulb.

My friend Sam Amadi and the Transmission company people are doing loads of hardwork but truly it amounts to nothing when there are many questions and no answers, I agree that we are a difficult people, it is probably only in Nigeria that PHCN owes NNPC for fuel supplied, and NNPC has not paid for electricity supplied and state houses owe utility bills, while citizens that have not paid bills in years have power as long as there is power to spare.

I know it is the same nation that after the fatia, Lord’s prayer and phrases like Allahmudillahi, and Hallelujah, one must have under the breath said “Up NEPA” or muttered “Thank God there is light.”

I agree that it would be difficult because millions of consumers are accustomed to that particular house that signposts whether there is light or not, some of us even call home to ask if there is light, rather than ask if everyone is safe.

I do not need lecture us on, the benefits derivable to the Nigerian economy in the event we sort out our electricity palaver.

I must state solution does not lie in Chinese, World Bank loans or Private Partnership but upon a strong political will by both leadership and those governed.

Meanwhile, at the office, we had cumulatively two hours of electricity, and it came in a space of 8 occasions the light was DISCO lights, off and on.

We may be on track, but really if this is the track, then, in Amauche Ude’s words we will keep making or recycling same mistakes. Would there truly be light soon–only time will tell.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

The ‘Up NEPA’ Masquerade By Prince Charles Dickson.


By Prince charles Dickson

One who hears and repeats a curse of the king is really cursing the king

A few years ago, the Bureau for Public Enterprise BPE sold NITEL the nations elephant telecom company to a building in Switzerland, it was a building housing a church, all the dance and drama. We soon let go. Just a reminder it was called PENTASCOPE. Only this year, the father of a white cloth wearing former Honourable bought the NITEL house…The NITEL story remains a tales by moonlight, plenty lies, half truths, misinformation, propaganda, a pot pourri of sorts.

How about the Steel Rolling Mill in Jos, Plateau, it was ‘racketeered’ in that sweet sounding word privatization. The likes of Andy, and his cohorts bought all the assets, renamed it Zuma, today the only functional thing is the housing estate. The factory and machines have been vandalized.

There was that drama of Daily Times, publishers of that ole time newspaper.  Before I go far, a former Managing Director of the once pride of publishing told me “Charlie, Daily Times is like a big elephant, everybody comes and cuts his/her own and goes away.”

You need to appreciate that statement in context, at a time in point Daily Times had properties virtually everywhere Nigeria had a presence in the world. All that changed as all that was left of the elephant was sold to some clowns and the rest is history.

Today, my admonition is on our power sector, I am sure you are wondering the ‘…masquerade’. As we round up the year, I recount 27 promises from over a dozen public official. That the power supply would get better, and indeed on some odd occasions I and many Nigerians have enjoyed more than 8hours of electricity. But don’t forget, it was not the norm, it was an exception. The President, his aides, and ministers made these pledges.

It is an interesting masquerade, recall a top aide, who blamed witches for power outages. Have we not since forgotten the Minister who resigned and the controversies.

And then the many Chinese loans taken, yet we are on the same track, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria has been sold and the drama has only begun. But if you know Nigerians and Nigeria, it is only a repeat episode, nothing new.

Most of the new owners have simply bought PHCN properties for peanuts. Owners that have no required expertise, distribution companies aptly called DISCOs that see the venture as new ‘oil wells’.

Looking at the best effort of government or the DISCOs, I simply recall those days when we read, there is this novel by Adaora Ulasi, Many things We don’t understand. It is a book I read many donkey years ago. What captivated me then, was not just in the story but that title.

Yes I am talking about PHCN, former NEPA, onetime ECN, for those old enough to remember. Now Distribution Companies, the power sector and these Discos are just a repeat episode–things we never may understand. It’s an ‘Up NEPA’ Masquerade, nothing new, yet when it comes out it engages our fancy, our fears, and enthusiasm.

Like why we can’t get 18hours electricity in a nation with so much resources both human and financial. Like how do we expect to get the desired megawatts with generating and transmission points that are run ala Luggard.

How do we get electricity when a third of consumers don’t pay bills, infact stranger than fiction some state government houses owe several millions in bills.

I kindly ask us to reflect as the year end, what matters to us. As a nation, as a people, both the led, leaders and those who are in the business of dealing with us–what are our values, what drives this nation and her people?

What is the Nigerian dream, as we gravitate towards the centenary, there are complains, grumbling, disaffection and conflicts.

To some its Goodluck Jonathan, to others, it is the institutions, others blame the opposition, the opposition blames government. The people blame the leaders, the leaders blame leaders.

What is the Ijaw nation’s dream, is all the political-economy of the SouthWest about the Tinubu Monarchy, and in the North, is it not a betrayal republic, one of a people that has let itself and people down and then as usual lie to its people.

Let us share this fable as I conclude: A master was strolling through a field of wheat when a disciple came up to him and asked, “I can’t tell which is the true path. What’s the secret?”

“What does that ring on your right hand mean?” – asked the master.

“My father gave it to me before dying.”

“Well, give it to me.”

The disciple obeyed, and the master tossed the ring into the middle of the field of wheat.

“Now what?” – shouted the disciple.

“Now I have to stop doing everything I was doing to look for the ring! It’s important to me!”

The ring is the masquerade, it is important to us, but it can be thrown away, and indeed it has been discarded many times. We stop everything we are doing to look for it, but we don’t even know why, yet it is important.

Nigeria, Nigerians, don’t understand many things, we are a repeat episode, yet we desperately desire change. We have watched as university teachers’ union stayed on strike and five months counting. We have seen these same strikes in the past. Meetings, meetings, agreements, and broken promises. All repeat episodes, all masquerades.

Finally these three things: 1) Masquerades are often from the community, the same people you eat, play, work and discuss with. Yet, they hide their faces and scare you, poke fun at you, and chase you…

2) A repeat episode, many a time, you have watched it, you know what to expect, how it will end, what happened. Yet, you are still addicted to it, like the yearly masquerade you want to see it again, even when you are being fooled.

3) Many things we don’t understand–because we choose not to. Like the power masquerade, good governance masquerade, and corruption masquerade, ethnic card masquerade and more–Are we ready to shed the deceit, and get it right, only time will tell.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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