An indigene of Ette Community, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, has decried neglect of the area by the state government.
The source, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Tuesday, said the community lacks basic development even though it has produced more than one local government chairman.
According to him, the community has only one primary health care centre and two cottage hospitals that are not functional.
The indigene, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised, described the situation of things in the community as pathetic.
He said, “The situation of things in the community is pathetic; the community has been neglected for a very long time. Things got worse about five years ago and some members of this community are already agitating to be merged with Kogi State since Enugu State is no longer taking care of their needs.
“The community is a border town between Enugu and Kogi states but it is under the administration of Enugu State though it is not an Igbo speaking community. It is an Igala/ Idoma speaking community, but somehow it was merged with Enugu State. It is recognised by Nigeria as a community under Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
“Politicians come to campaign in this community, we have three councillors from this community: Haruna Idiris (Ward 1); Agada Innocent (Ward 2) and Abraham (Ward 3). One of our sons, Tony Ogidi, was a two-term House of Assembly member of Enugu State. Chief Emmanuel Alachi held various positions in the past. We’ve had our people serve as chairman of the local government area: S. S. Abula; Suleiman Yusuf Akwu; Aaron Audu Alachi and Matthew Abula.
“But the issue we have is that the politicians from here do not represent the interest of our people, some things that are due the community, they don’t fight for them.
“We have three hospitals – one health centre and two cottage hospitals. They are in bad conditions, no medicine, no adequate staff; just one or two nurses handling those places. When they have issues that are beyond them, they source doctors from outside. People die as a result of this. Recently, we had an outbreak of Yellow Fever in the community (August to December, 2020) people were dying in their numbers.
“The state of the hospitals here is so bad that when it broke out, we didn’t even know it was Yellow Fever. People go to the local government headquarters in Enugu Ezike to get treatment. We lost over 80 people to that incident.
“When the death rate became too much, we started a media campaign and brought it to the attention of the government, so they responded. Health workers came and took samples for COVID-19 and Yellow Fever. The results showed what our people had was Yellow Fever. The government deployed a medical team to the affected areas, treated people, brought vaccines and by December, the death rate reduced.
“Mostly, it is until when things get out of hand and we cry out that the government hears us; the councillors don’t do anything.
“Recently, I learnt that one of the cottage hospitals had been converted to a base for the neighourhood watch, a vigilante group in the area. They use that building as their base for arresting criminals, locking them up and so on.”
He said he started a group in 2019 and had consistently been on the issue of education as schools in the community lacked the monitoring needed to ensure staff members actually resume work.
He added that some schools in the area lack good structure with no seat for the pupils while some classrooms are abandoned.
According to him, an investigation by his team into the condition of these schools revealed that a head teacher in one of the 15 primary schools in the area got an appointment as a lecturer in Kogi State University, took up the job, abandoned the school but still earns salary as someone still working there.
He said, “I started a group in 2019, the aim is to try to bring our people together and see how we can help ourselves. In 2019, we discovered that though there are only two government secondary schools in the area, one is not functioning, nothing is happening there – Model Secondary School. The structure is there, no teacher, no student nothing is happening there.
“The other school, Community Secondary School, that was functional, the structures are dilapidated, we also discovered that they don’t even have National Examination Council accreditation, they only sit for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and when it is time to take the National Examination Council test, they go to another community to do that. This is one of the things the government ought to do for us. My association took up that challenge, we brought staff members of NECO, we paid, we got the school accredited.
“Last week, I got a report about the lack of teachers in a government primary school in Ette, so we decided to set up a committee to do an investigation into it. We have about 15 primary schools in Ette, we sent people to go and get vital information about the state of these schools, to find out why teachers are not coming to school.
“We discovered that some of these schools have teachers but because there is no monitoring by the government and education secretary of the local government, the teachers just decide not to come to work, some have even absconded from their duty post and yet they are still earning salaries. We even discovered dilapidated structures, some of the buildings are totally destroyed and teachers cannot teach students there. The pupils have to trek long distances to go to neighbouring villages to get primary education.
“In some of these schools, there are no chairs, students sit on the floor. We discovered that one of the headmasters in one of the schools got an appointment as a lecturer in Kogi State University and he is still being paid for his headmaster role in that primary school despite his absence. He abandoned the school
“His daughter too is a teacher in that same school, she absconded to start a life in Abuja, and she is still earning her pay as a teacher, so it is a serious issue.
He lamented that there are many abandoned projects and roads in the community that upon completion will translate to a positive development for the people.
“We have an agric farm in that community that employ a lot of people. Proceeds from that farm can feed the whole of that local government area but the farm has been abandoned. The tractors are there, but the government abandoned the projects. It is an issue of government neglect.”
In a report shared with SaharaReporters, primary schools in the area were identified with their peculiar challenges.
It read, “Schools visited: (1) Ayinebe Primary School: The visit to this school shows that five (5) teachers were posted there. Four (4) were present on duty. The school structure is in a deplorable state as there are no seats for the pupils as well.
“(2) Ogodo Primary School: This primary school has just three (3) teachers, two were present while the third person was absent. The head teacher informed us that she has applied for more teachers to be posted to the school, but yet to get approval from the ENSUBEB. The old structure of this school is in a bad shape but there is new structure there as well.
“(3) Efeche Iyaya Primary School: The visit to this school shows that the structure of the school is in a bad state, no teacher was in school, as children were seen roaming around while others were sitting at home helping their parents with domestic chores. Urgent attention is needed to alleviate the plight of these children.
“(4) Efeche Aiebe, “Two (2) teachers were posted to this school and both were absent. Teachers we met on the ground were two (2) PTA teachers (employed by the community). Interaction with the pupils revealed that they are eager and willing to go to school but lack of teachers and conducive classrooms for learning is a major hindrance.
“Names of teachers posted are Mr. Augustine Akoji (who is now a lecturer at Kogi State University but under the payroll of Enugu State government as a teacher in Ette); Akoji Mary (The daughter of Augustine Akoji based in Abuja and collecting salary as a teacher in Ette) and the headmaster Mr Simeon.
“(5) Ijekpe Primary School: This school has seven (7) government teachers posted there but only two 2 were present and the whereabouts of the rest of the teachers were unknown as at the time of our visit.
“(6) Ogliama Primary Schools: (2) teachers were posted to this school, only one was present, the Headmaster Mr Daniel Akwu was absent.
“(7) Adupi Primary School: A visit to this school shows that five (5) teachers were posted to the school, four (4) were present and the whereabouts of the fifth one were unknown. Absentee (1) Philip Nelson Itodo, said the school has it that Mr Philip is a stubborn teacher who never comes to school
(Ogboyaga Primary School: Two (2) teachers were posted to this school, none of them were seen on duty. The structure of the school is in a deplorable state.
“(9) Emachanye Primary School: No single teacher was sighted in this school. Due to the attitude of teachers posted to this school, the structure has been converted to private school so as to help the children in that community to learn.
“(10) Unyi Ette Primary School: Report from this school shows that a teacher posted from Kogi State was seen on duty, while those posted from Enugu State were not on duty. Details about their whereabouts are yet to be ascertained.
(11) Ayishi Primary School: A visit to this school shows that four (4) teachers were posted to this school, two were present while the other two were absent. The school is in a dilapidated state and pupils lack seats and desks in their classrooms.”
In a similar condition is the school at Ogo Ayishi. No teachers in the school and the school structure are in a deplorable condition.
The school at Umuagada has only one teacher, (1) Ugwuanyi Ndidiamaka, whose whereabouts were unknown as well as that of Mrs Ogwuche Felicia who is the Headmistress.
(12) Oliepe Primary School: There was a good report on this school as at the time of visit. Six teachers were posted to the school and they were all present at work. The school structure is in a good state, teachers urge parents to send their children to school as they are fully ready to teach them.
(13) Ette Central School: The school has a very good structure and is well-furnished. Eight teachers were posted to the school, six (6) among them were present at work, while two were absent as at the time of visit.
(14) Adokpe Primary School: Teachers posted to this school were nowhere to be found. The school’s structure is in a good state. Only PTA teachers were available to help the pupils in learning.
(15) Ileje Primary School: No teacher was seen in school as the classrooms were all locked up.”