- Say ‘we have no electricity, others, our children can’t go to school’
BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
Residents of Agba village, Oziza autonomous community of Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have accused the state government of depriving them of social amenities.
They accused government of outright abandonment, saying that the only primary school in the riverine community was in decay.
In an interview with our correspondent, the Headmistress of Agba Migrant Fishermen Primary School, Ameta Oziza, Mrs Evelyn Oko, said the structure, which had seven classrooms, was built by the missionaries in 1956, courtesy of a foreign priest, Rev. Fr. Itta, but that since then, the state government had refused to maintain it.
Speaking through one of the teachers of the only community primary school, Mrs Joy Egwu, the headmistress disclosed that the old school had 107 pupils with only six teachers.
She said the school had not been given adequate attention by the government like its counterparts across the state.
“In my school, out of the total number of six teachers, we have only four under the government’s payroll while the two others were contracted by the Parents Teachers Association of the school. In addition to that, we do not have other facilities like toilets and borehole. The school is also prone to attacks from wild animals, dangerous reptiles and even miscreants since there is no perimeter fence,” she said.
She further disclosed that apart from the government approval authorising the school to conduct both Common Entrance and First School Leaving Certificate Examinations for its pupils, no other assistance had come their way in recent time.
The headmistress also said that the villagers, in their quest to provide their children and wards with secondary education had levied themselves and started a six-room block since 2004 to be used for the secondary school section, adding that approval had not been given by the state government through the Ministry of Education.
“It is as a result of our earnest desire to bring secondary education close to our children and wards and prevent them from trekking for hours while attending school in a neighbouring community that members of the community levied themselves and built the structure, but till this period, it has not been approved by the government,” Oziza said.
She urged the state government to provide more teachers and classrooms so that the whole nursery pupils who were together with their counterparts in the primary one class could be separated and given quality education.
The Chairman, Community Based Management Committee, Ignatius Oko, said that the name “Agba Migrant Fishermen School” was adopted based on the fact that the people of the area were predominantly fishermen who also lived close to the river.
He added that there was virtually no government presence in the area in the sense that before now, the villagers got their drinking water from the river until recently when the Women Wing of Agba Development Union provided the community with a motorised borehole.
Oko said, “In the area of our health, the only Health Center in the area was built about 10 years ago through the effort of an NGO known as Participatory Development Agency (PDA), but, unfortunately, the health workers are living outside the community and they could only be contacted on phone under emergency situations. The people usually visit the Health facility periodically.
“Concerning the bridge that lies at the entrance of our community, which was initiated by the present administration of Ebonyi State, suddenly the project was abandoned half way without any known cause. Likewise electricity, there is neither electricity nor hope of having it in the nearest future, even when other component villages of Oziza Autonomous Community have been enjoying electricity for years.”
“The attitudes of the people who are representing us in government are not encouraging as they do remember us only during the election campaigns and, thereafter, we will be forgotten,” he lamented.
Oko also described the road leading to the village as worrisome, mostly during the rainy season when the villagers usually engaged canoe men before they could either go out or return to their homes as a result of the flood that usually submerges the only route to the village.
“The government had wanted to solve the problem but unfortunately, the project was abandoned half way. Even as it stands now, we are the only community without a secondary school and the primary school built by the white men is only maintained by the villagers,” he said.
The Assistant General Secretary of Agba Development Union, Sylvanus Ogbonnia Otu, added that the area lacked access road, electricity and potable water, noting that the only Health Center, which was built between 2007 and 2008 through the PDA, lacked workers.
“We have been yearning for social amenities since the creation of the state and till now, we are still appealing for basic social facilities,” he lamented.