By TAIWO AKERELE
In this loaded piece, Taiwo Akerele, the former Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki of Edo State, highlights the insecurity, poverty and pains of the Akoko- Edo Local Government Area people as well as the lack of government presence in the area. It is thought provoking and worth reading to the end.
This year’s Christmas in my beloved local government might be postponed, travelling by indigenes from all over the world for the usual celebration in the beautiful serene local government blessed with Igarra and Ososo rocks, mountains and hills may be placed on hold, the usual weddings, funerals, family thanksgivings, annual re-unions of alumni associations and all forms of ceremonies might be done in downgraded tones, characterized by sober reflections and low morale because the government is simply on holidays while criminal marauders are having a field day across the length and breadth of the local government.
From the central towns of Igarra to the pottery town of Ojah, the tourist delights town of Ososo and the boundary community of Okpe extending to the north eastern part of the local government such as Bekuma, Ekpe, Makeke, Ogugu, the entire local government is eclipsed by criminal elements who ostensibly, courageously and without fear run a parallel government. A situation that is likened to the pre-Buhari era where over 14 local governments were under the total control of the dreaded Boko Haram in the north eastern part of Nigeria. As we speak Akoko-Edo is cut off from Edo state, security and infrastructure wise. Pitiably, Akoko-Edo people are now at the mercy of bandits, kidnappers and the government appears helpless. Who is the next victim? Only God knows and we are all expected to keep quiet while a few court jesters are clapping for the government all with a view to keep earning their peanut salaries.
Our diaspora (residents outside the LGA) are daily inundated with news of kidnapping incidents almost on an hourly basis and the fear is palpable. Just few days ago a driver was kidnapped and his body was later found in the forests of Owan East Local Government. Two weeks earlier it was widely reported that Eight (8) women on their way from the market were kidnapped and a ransom of Fifteen Million Naira Only (N15,000,000.00) was demanded by these criminals for each victim before they are released. These women are reported to come from Ekpe, Bekuma, Makeke and Ogugu. Few days earlier, two men were killed at Ojah, a very beautiful community known for pottery making globally, contributing to the GDP of Edo State. Across the local government, farmers have abandoned their farms and the people are at risk of food crisis with inflation soaring high, as high as 25% (year on year) on the few available ones, hunger is looming while the state government is on holidays.
In October, while the Governor, was busy playing politics inaugurating so called Senior Special Assistants, SSAs, in the local government, I raised a patriotic alarm over the needless activity as that is completely at variance with the priority of the people at the moment but their security, road infrastructure, adequate teachers for their schools and general welfare of all. Surprisingly, in a very weak and cowardly reaction, the government sponsored an article aimed at tarnishing my name and integrity and rewarded the author with a Special Adviser,SA, position few days thereafter.
However, and to the consternation and bewilderment of the people of Akoko-Edo, the state government clearly attempted to cleverly dodge the key issues raised in my notes. For how long will a state government continue to play politics with the welfare of his own people? There should be an end to politics and there must be effective governance that is result-based, one that prioritizes the greatest happiness of the citizens who elected them into power.
Today, the people of Akoko-Edo are contemplating postponing Christmas. The village squares across Ibillo, Igarra, Ugboshi, Uneme-Akpama and others are being swept clean to pave way for the gathering of the village elders for a referendum over the possibility of a collective plebiscite over this sorry case of insecurity till the government wakes up from their obvious policy slumber.
Today, we have scores of SSAs and SAs littered all over the place without clear terms of reference, they eagerly await their US$78.00 monthly salaries while they have matching orders to deliver their party in the next election by hook or by crook, yet the citizens live in fear, agony, uncertainty and lacking in hope for a solution to these intractable security crises that has enveloped the local government.
Over the years and historically, Akoko-Edo people are not known to be cowards and they will never be conquered by bandits and criminal elements obviously aided by some evil-minded individuals.
The state government must discharge its duties without fear or bias, the whole essence of governance as stated in the 1st schedule of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the overall welfare of the people, anything less than this amounts to abysmal failure and abandonment of constitutional duties. Liberate Akoko Edo now to avoid a postponed Christmas and avoid needless agonies.