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Enugu: A huge controversy over AIIA



Enugu: A huge controversy over AIIA

The Minister of State Aviation, Hardi Sirika, recently ruffled feathers with the threat to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, over safety issues. The state government has gone ahead to take some urgent steps, which the minister acknowledged. But stakeholders in the East are angry. Kenneth Ofoma reports from Enugu



The announcement by the Federal Government through the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, recently that it planned to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu or shut it down for runway rehabilitation, has not gone down well with the people. It has set off chain reactions and hullabaloo within and outside the country especially from people of South East geopolitical zone of the country.


In Enugu, the state government has been jarred into action, while a lot of dust has been raised by groups and individuals over the announcement.


Sirika, who issued the threat at the 2019 Stakeholders’ Forum, in Lagos, said the decision was taken to enable the Federal Government to work on the airport runway to avoid any major incident.


He said, “We may downgrade Enugu Airport in terms of its status as an international airport. The runway is terrible. I have been there three times, seen the governor of the state and told them what to do but nothing has happened. There is a market and an abattoir at the side of the runway and these attract birds. Of recent, Air Peace suffered a bird strike and this affected the airline. Thank God, there was no major incident.


“At the end of the runway, you have the government establishing a free trade zone at the centre. Enugu is to the East what Kaduna is to the North. When the government wanted to expand the runway to 60 metres long and 71 metres wide, there were few houses there and we were promised that they would be demolished and the owners compensated, so we can have the improvement but now, they have built more houses. Enugu would have to be closed down; that is the honest truth.”


The Minister stressed that with the above reasons and more, the Federal Government would have no choice than to downgrade the Airport for not meeting required safety standards for international operations.


By this development, Ethiopia Airlines will stop operations to the airport. The minister said that the infrastructure at the airport did not meet given safety standards, from the dilapidated runway to absence of approach light and lack of enough water for fire cover. Sirika also pointed out that there were things the Governor of the state was expected to do so that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would provide critical infrastructure like the approach light which would enable flights to land in the night.


According to the minister, the governor has agreed to clear buildings at the flight path, relocate the market at Emene for broader approach, remove the masts that obstruct flight path and also allow FAAN to have access to the Ekulu River to use pipes to bring water to the airport.


It would be recalled that for more than four years now, flights cannot operate at night because the airport does not have approach light, which ought to be installed at the two ends of the runway. Sirika lamented lack of adequate water supply at the airport which means that it may not service large body aircraft because it does not have adequate fire cover, as certain volumes of water are needed for the fire hydrants in case of emergency.


It would also be recalled that the Governor of the State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, during the courtesy visit by the Minister last year, had assured the minister that urgent action would be taken. Meanwhile, following the safety concerns raised by Sirika and the FAAN last Friday, the Enugu State Government issued a press statement the same day, detailing steps it had taken to address all the issues raised. The statement read: “The Enugu State Executive Council has approved the immediate closure of Orie Emene Market (abattoir inclusive) to forestall tragic air accident at the Airport. Accordingly, the Chairman of Enugu East Local Government Area has been directed to effect the immediate closure of the market.


“Council also ordered immediate removal of all illegal structures encroaching on the land of the Airport. The State Executive Council had on 12th October, 2018 approved funds for relocation of the State Broadcast Mast on the approach of the Run Way to Okpatu Hill (Ugwu Rerenkwu) in Udi Local Government Area but the implementation of this project has been hampered by the disruptive activities of some youths in the community. Enugu State Government hereby directs immediate cessation of all hostilities against the project as any further interference will attract the full wrath of the law given that government has paid all the necessary compensation.


“The traditional rulers of Okpatu Communities and town union leadership are hereby called upon to ensure full compliance with the above directives.”


The state government did not end with issuing of statement. It followed it with action the next day (last Saturday) as the State Ministry of Capital Territory Development rolled in the bulldozer and started demolition of Orie Emene market and the abattoir. The demolition has also come with a lot of hues and cries from traders and shop owners whose goods and property were destroyed as they cried wolf. Traders admitted the state government gave them notice long ago but there was no alternative provided, and that government ought to have given them at least 24 hours final notice, so that they could evacuate their goods before the demolition. Meanwhile, the threat by the Aviation minister to shut down or downgrade the airport has set off a firestorm of controversy across the country.


This is because for the people of South East geopolitical region, which is land and sea locked, the airport remains the only window to the world. It took years of struggle and cries of marginalization before Enugu airport was made international.


In early days, the colonialists had established three aerodromes in Enugu, Calabar and Port Harcourt for easy movement of their administrators. Thus, the Enugu airport started as a colonial aerodrome before it was commissioned a full blown airport on October 22, 1976 by the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. By stroke of fate, it was his younger brother, late former President Umar Yar’Adua that designated Enugu Airport as an International Airport and named it after former Governor of old Easter Region, Dr. Akanu Ibiam.


Yar’Adua also commenced the process of facility upgrade at the airport before he died. And his deputy who succeeded him as president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, continued with the process and awarded the contract for international terminal and runway. The upgrade and extension of its runway were part of Federal Government’s airport rehabilitation programme designed to improve the state of infrastructure in the nation’s 21 airports.


The Akanu Ibiam airport project is being executed in two phases; the first phase being the extension of   the runway length from 2,400 metres to 3,000 metres and the width from 45 metres to 60 to enable large aircraft such as Boeing 747 use it.


The first phase was what former President Jonathan commissioned in December 2010 while the second phase which is ongoing involves the construction of a new apron and taxiway and the upgrade of the Airfield Lighting System to Category 11. Work on that project has slowed down considerably, perhaps because he did not return to office in 2015.


Thus, being the only international airport in the entire South East zone, any pronouncement pertaining to the airport was bound to generate emotive feelings and even rake up cries of marginalization by the Igbo in general. Little wonder that reactions to the Minister of State for Aviation’s threat to shut the airport threw up heavy dust in the air with the usual primordial sentiments.


For instance, pan Igbo sociocultural organization, Ohanaeze warned the Federal Government not to carry out the threat of shutting down or downgrading the airport. The National Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Chuks Ibegbo, who spoke to New Telegraph on the matter said: “Enugu airport must on no account be downgraded. Eastern governors must do the needful so that the Federal Government will not have excuse.”


A commentator who didn’t want to be mentioned went comical and stated as follows: “There’s no doubt that the downgrading of the airport must have been ‘hungrying’ them for a long time. Is there a more ‘downgradeful’ action than the exorbitant rate being charged travellers using the Enugu airport? That disparity in fare is clear downgrading policy. Whose duty is it to expand the runway? Is it the town unions in the South East? As for the market and mast, the ENSG has indicated interest in responding to their demands. So, let the downgrading wash clear from their minds.”


Another commentator who simply wished to be identified ad Chinedu said: “Shutting down the airport to fix the problems is one thing. Saying it would be degraded is another thing. There’s nothing that constitutes danger there that cannot be removed. Sirika talked about masts, free trade zone and market. These things can be relocated to other places.”


Another public affairs commentator, Mr. Edmond Uche, has this to say: “If there are security and safety issues at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, would the right thing not be to address them? Why would Sirika be talking about downgrading it?


“Downgrading well intentioned? He never talked about fixing the runway. All the issues he raised are not exclusive to Enugu airport. There are masts around Lagos airport. Go and check and birds all over. Has it been closed? That Minister, if you have had the opportunity of getting close to him, is so arrogant and would stop at nothing to withdraw the international status of the airport.


“He talked about the FTZ at the end of the Runway. Let him tell the world where Nahco FTZ in Lagos is located. ‘They’ are not comfortable with the international status of Akanu Ibiam Airport. The conspiracy is from the Southwest too. The Enugu airport is adversely affecting the number of people using the MMA to travel abroad. All these forces fought Adaeze Oduah (Former Minister of Aviation) when she was planning to give Enugu airport the international status. The same forces that forestalled the building of Oba International Cargo Airport (near Onitsha, Anambra State) approved since 1961. It was fought up till the 90s and the asphalting of its runway stopped on the eve of its commencement. Southeast ronu! Minister of State, Aviation insults Ndigbo.”


A former Secretary to Abia State Government and veteran Journalist also reacted to the development.


He said: “I don’t have problem with the observation (by Aviation Minister) but I find the solution condescending and particularly insulting to the Igbo nation. It further ridicules the country and the black man in world affairs. I begin from the first. It has become like a policy that when any major development project is to be undertaken in East Central States, the Federal Government would make it look like a patronage rather than a national necessity. Check power supply; see the big issue being made of a new bridge across River Niger.


“Various central governments have so made an issue out of this project aided by ‘In House’ Igbo that everyone now thinks 2nd Niger Bridge is Igbo Project. Is it true? Would it be right to say only Igbo would use the bridge or that it is most strategic to Igbo nation? Of course, this is not true. “Now the aviation people have identified faults, which are within their job description. What I expected them to do next was to confront the challenges head on. Vote more funds and where it requires interface with either Enugu government or entire East Central States governments; they take the initiative and set the ball rolling. But going public and threatening a downgrade, first amounts to leaving substance to chase shadow. It is a clear case of abandoning core responsibility.” “Thirdly it reveals existence of obnoxious motive. See this, the airport is not safe for international flights but internal runs can continue. So locals can die and their planes destroyed.


“It is no secret that there is this unwritten state policy to squeeze Ndigbo and emasculate their territory. It began with the loss of civil war and has lasted over 40years. If we mean well for this country, it should not be allowed to continue. It is possible the aviation people may have experienced some frustrations. Yet, that can’t explain away this act of recklessness which their position clearly amounts to.”


Similarly another angry commentator, Mazi Hilary Okonkwo said: “In a civilized clime, the minister should have resigned for wasting the resources of Nigeria on the aborted Air Nigeria project. And now he is up against the most vibrant ethnic group by threatening to downgrade their only international airport. He should not have made this statement as a minister in charge of aviation in Nigeria because it is not a solution to the problem on ground. He should have proffered a solution rather than threat to downgrade the already internationalized airport”.


Another commentator, Obunneme Ifeanyi yet said: “I have been asking the Federal Government to hasten up with Onitsha inland Port and Second Niger bridge, two projects that are key to the economic survival of the zone, and the minister had the temerity to threaten to downgrade the only federal presence in the whole of the South East. Let him dare the zone if he can! I wish him well.”


However it appears there are some observers even from South East who saw what the minister saw and are in total agreement with him. One of such persons is former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka. Chidoka stated that the possible closure of the Airport and subsequent demolition of Emene market in Enugu were steps in the right direction towards tackling the recurrent safety and security challenges rocking the airport.


Reacting in a series of tweets last Sunday, Chidoka said the Enugu Airport needs urgent holistic attention to improve its safety and commercial viability, suggesting concession of the airport to private operators through the state government.


He wrote, “I was on board the @flyairpeace that suffered the bird strike and had to make an emergency landing last Monday. “The pilots were professional and they told me that was the 3rd bird strike suffered by the Airline at Enugu. I called Minister @hadisirika unsuccessfully to discuss. “Safety is an important issue and should be handled professionally. The Minister’s statement and the response of Enugu State government are in the right direction. “Enugu Airport needs urgent holistic attention to improve safety and commercial viability.”


Meanwhile less than 48 hours after he issued the shutdown and downgrade threat, the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Sirika, last Saturday, expressed satisfaction with steps taken by the Enugu State government in a bid to improve safety at the Airport.


Addressing aviation correspondents in Lagos, Sirika said that he was excited to see that the Enugu State Government had seen reason with the aviation ministry to address safety concerns at the airport promptly. He said: “We are happy to see that the Enugu State government has seen reason with the Ministry to address safety concerns raised.


“We are appreciative that in the name of safety, Enugu State Executive Council approved the immediate closure of Orie Emene Market (abattoir inclusive) to forestall any tragedy at the Airport.


“We are also happy that the Council also ordered immediate removal of all illegal structures encroaching on the land of the Airport, mast of the state broadcasting service, and Free Trade Zone.


“We, however, would be extremely comfortable if compliance with the above directives from the state government are carried out as soon as possible to give us necessary allowance to carry out repairs as well as expansion and extension of the Runway. All these will better the lot of the Enugu Airport and improve safety a hundred fold.”

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The Mega City / Life

Doka: A community in need of help



Doka: A community in need of help

Doka is a suburban community in  Bauchi metropolis, located at the southern part of the state and about four kilometers away from the main Dass-Tafawa Balewa road behind Gwallameji Area in Birshi Gandu ward of Bauchi Local Government council.



Doka village, also served as a host to many students of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and some of its staff.



However, New Telegraph gathered that the community, which has been in existence for about 70 years, lack basic social amenities such as road, hospital, school and a Police post where the locals can settle their differences since the establishment of the community. Interacting with some of the community members on their present predicament and challenges surrounding them, Mrs. Sarah Yohana, a mother of five children, said truly women are not finding it easy living in Doka community, especially, when they are sick. She said that they also find it difficult to cross the river whenever the need rises.



Yohana explained that as a result of the deplorable road condition and lack of bridge to link Doka community to Gwallameji and Rafin Zurfi in the western part of the community, it had resulted to two pregnant women losing their lives. The woman leader pointed out that most pressing challenges facing the whole community now is lack of maternity clinic, portable drinking water, school, access road and a Police post, where they can settle their little misunderstandings in the community and they have to go far away to seek for readdress of any differences that occurred among themselves.



The 56-year-old mother said: “We are not finding it easy to cross the river or ply the road but the most challenging issue we are having is lack of maternity. Our  women here are suffering during labour because the road is bad. Consequently, we lost two women due to prolonged labour at home and lack of medical service providers within the community.”



She pleaded for help from both individuals and government, saying that lives had been hard on them for many years, living without hospital, water, good road and school for their children.



She said: “If our children, women or any member of the community fall sick at night, it becomes a serious issue to us because we know the chances of survival is slim. We have no access road, and no one can access us. There is no way we can take our sick ones for medical attention and we have to wait till day break before succour may come out way.”



Commenting on children’s plights, she said, any day that it is raining, it becomes automatic holiday for the children in the community, which according to her, also affects learning ability of the children greatly and is making education less attractive to them.



She recalled that she nearly lost her 17-year-old daughter due to the overflow of the river.



“One day, my daughter was going to school early in the morning this year and unknown to her that the river was over flowing, she was in the middle of river before she realised that the river was over flowing. The  water overpowered her and it took a combined efforts of youths and elders in the community to rescue her from death.”



Sarah Yohana said that their experience of living in Doka village which is about four kilometers away from main road is not palatable and needed urgent government attention.



“When it rains, that means those outside the community cannot come home and those inside the community cannot go out for any activities and we have been living miserably like this for many years,” she lamented.



“As you can see, we have not even one borehole, in this large community. Our source of drinking water is from the well and streams despite being close to the town. Sometimes, during dry season, even the well-water is not enough. We  find it difficult to get water still, especially potable water. All we need from government as a community for now is borehole, but most importantly, women need maternity clinic to reduce maternal mortalit among young women in the community.”



Speaking further to New Telegraph, community leader of Doka village, Mr. John Ciroma, said that he has being living in Doka for more than 40 years but the situation has not been so bad like this year, even though he confirmed that last year the river consumed one live.


“This road has caused us many lives. In  2018, I lost my neighbour while one escaped narrowly. Some  have lost their handsets, property and other valuables in the process of crossing the river while farm lands have also been washed away,” he explained.



According to him, because of the congestion in Gwallameji and Zafin Zurfi bordering the community, “people have shown interest to cross over but because we have no road, hospital and other social amenities, people are not forthcoming.”



On his own part, the village Head of Doka, Yohana Daniel, informed that if nothing was done to arrest the erosion, it would consume the whole community in the nearest future.


He said with the way the erosion is approaching them, people are scared to come and transact business with them and as human, they cannot continue to leave in isolation. 



Daniel explained that during the dry season, it is easy to cross to the other side of the world, but once it is rainy season, it becomes hell on Earth for them.


“This community is big. We  have about 1,500 people living here. Among  us, we have farmers, government workers, entrepreneurs, Federal Polytechnic students and hotel operators. Even though farmers are the majority, we have been cut off from the world.”


Daniel said their farm produce include, maize, Guinea corn, onion, rice, acha (sorghum) and beans.



“We have made frantic efforts to attract the attention of government in the past, all to no avail. But  in this present administration of Senator Bala Mohammed, , we have hope that he will do something positively for the community.



“All we need now in this community, first is bridge and road, so that we can be connected to Gwallameji, Zafin Zurfi and other parts of the state. Second is school and then maternity for our women and the sick and lastly a borehole,” he said.



Speaking with New Telegraph, the deputy Youth Leader, Doka village, Mr. Joel Jacobs, corroborated that, “it has been long since we have been yearning for construction of roads and the bridge but succour has not come our way yet. Your coming here today made us proud and gives us hope that the attention of various stakeholders would be drawn to our suffering which is an indicator that help may come our way soon.”



Jacobs said that youths of the community have done their best to arrest the escalation of the erosion by filling up the river with heavy stones, saying their effort have been overpowered by  the river due to downpour. According to him, youths have contributed positively towards the rehabilitation of the roads.



“Our request to this government is to construct a road for us and a maternity clinic. We are all citizens of this country and we were supportive to this government during election. We have lost two pregnant women already and we don’t want to experience that again,” he pleaded.



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The Mega City / Life

Light comes after darkness



Light comes after darkness

For 20 years, they wallowed in darkness over alleged indebtedness to electricity companies. Most communities in Ondo South Senatorial District of Ondo State were without electricity for long. In this report, ADEWALE MOMOH writes on the pains residents had as well as the respite on the way for the communities





espite finally came for these communities when the flash of electricity illuminated the communities. Immediately, thunderous cacophony of noise, ‘Up Nepa’, rented the air. Every household jubilated saying, “we thank God; electricity is taken or restored to our communities.”



Although, NEPA had for a long while metamorphosed from PHCN into privately owned distribution companies, the word is still the only word that is fully understood between the literate class and laymen in the country but this cannot be said for residents of Ondo State, residing in the Southern Senatorial District of the state, who had been without power from the national grid for almost 20 years.



With this seemingly pathetic condition, views of the over 1,000 communities making up the six local government areas of the senatorial district, no doubt have been redirected to see power as luxury and no longer a necessity, with generators competing for spaces in various households and  no option other than to acclimatize to its attendant effect of noise pollution.



Residents of communities in Odigbo, Okitipupa, Irele, Ese-Odo, and Ilaje Local Government Areas have been in total darkness due to the disconnection of affected areas from the national grid by the BEDC.


According to the BEDC, the action was taken so as to pressurise the communities to pay up the outstanding debt of about N2 billion, which were allegedly incurred by some households within the affected communities since the days of NEPA and PHCN



Reason for this, according to the BEDC officials in some of the numerous meetings held with top government officials of the state government towards finding a lasting solution to the crisis, was that when the privatisation of the power sector was formalised, February 21, 2013, assets and liabilities were handed over, hence their resolve that all outstanding debts of consumers from the days of PHCN and the preceding company must be paid.



After series of meetings by residents and stakeholders, BEDC trimmed the debt from N2 billion to millions of naira as against the appeal for a total write-off of the debt in order to begin the billing from when BEDC took over.



After the stalemate on measures to resolve the issue, series of protests rocked the various parts of the communities as BEDC insisted that the affected local governments be cut off in an alleged strategy believed to force non-debtors to compel the actual debtors to pay up. Among the protests that shook the state was the blockage of the Benin-Shagamu highway at the Ore axis of the road by the youths from the senatorial district last year. 



According to the leader of the United Action Democracy (UAD), Kunle Ajayi, also known as ‘Wise Man’ who led youths on the protest held on August 1st, 2018 he emphasized that the blockade of the busy route became necessary due to the continuous cut off of the district from the national grid by BEDC.   Ajayi, who maintained that efforts of the various personalities from the area as well as some of the district’s political representatives have continued to prove abortive, stressed that BEDC’s action has deprived everyone in the district from happenings around the world as well as suffocated businesses.



Also, the Ondo State Traditional Council of Obas had passed a vote of no confidence in BEDC over the issue with a call to Federal Government not to renew the operating license of the distribution company.  According to the traditional rulers during one of their monthly meetings in Akure, the state capital, the move became imperative as a result of the years of inefficient and erratic power supply by BEDC to the people of Ondo North and Ondo Central Senatorial districts as well as the total blackout in Ondo South district, which they said have negatively affected social, cultural and economic activities of the people. The monarchs added that BEDC had in past years put majority of the communities in southern parts of the state in perpetual blackout, yet continues to make unrealistic demands from the people.



Meanwhile, some groups within the senatorial district were of the opinion that politicians, who hailed from the area, have not been doing enough towards ensuring that power was restored to the communities. 



The Chairman of Tailors Association, Okitipupa branch, Mr. Wahab Muhammed, during one of the protests against BEDC and politicians in the district prior to the 2019 general elections, lamented the deafening silence of their political representatives, stressing that they have failed the people by not coming to their rescue.


“It is sad that our politicians from the Ondo South Senatorial District have failed us. We have been in total darkness for over 10 years and they have failed to restore our electricity.  We are also not happy that the state government has not done anything meaningful to address the situation. Henceforth, we are not going to pay revenue to the government,” he said.



Also, Chairman of Electronic Technicians Association, Okitipupa branch, Comrade Omosule, urged the Federal Government not to renew the contract of BEDC because of its alleged failure in the district as well as across the state.



“It is crystal clear that BEDC has failed woefully, despite the fact that we do not owe them. They have refused to supply us with electricity. We want the Federal Government to terminate their contract because they are not in any way effective,” he said.



Meanwhile, respite came the way of the affected communities during the visit of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to the state, prior to the last general elections where he assured the people that the Federal Government had ordered replacement of the all-power installation within the Ondo South Senatorial District following years of neglect.



Through the words of the Vice President, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) moved to site, where it replaced all the affected lines within the district with readiness to restore power to the affected communities. 



Speaking in Akure, recently on the restoration process, the Executive Director, NDPHC, Engr. Ife Oyedele, disclosed that respite is now in the offing as the countdown to the restoration of electricity to the affected communities begins.



According to Oyedele, commissioning of the restoration of electricity to the affected communities would be done by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is Chairman of the NDPHC as he stressed that the project was fully conceived by the Federal Government. He disclosed that restoration of electricity supply had been completed in communities such as Ajagba, Igbokoda, Okitipupa, and Igodan-Lisa (OSUSTECH) while rehabilitation of Ore-Okitipupa 33KV line had equally been completed.



Oyedele also said work is on-going on the rehabilitation of Okitipupa to Ilutitun 11KV through Ikoya, rehabilitation of Igbotako to Ilutitun 33kv line through Ijuodo, and the rehabilitation of Ore to Irele 33kv line.



“It is now certain that people of the area will have power supply because the job has been completed. Right now, what we are doing is a re-commissioning test, our work is to restore power supply.



“This project was conceived by the Vice President, designed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company and awarded to contractors that have passed the test and it has nothing to do with any individual, state, local government or politics. It is purely Federal Government-sponsored projects being projected by the Niger Delta Power Holding Limited. It is about development,”  he said.





Oyedele also disclosed that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, (NERC), has signed an agreement with Discos in supplying meters to customers across the country.



“The NERC has what we call meters assessment programme and this makes it possible between the meters providers and the consumers at an easy time. I think Discos have signed an agreement with NERC. It is the responsibility and duty of Discos to provide meters to all its customers across the country. Anybody, who wishes to have these meters should approach Discos.”



As regards the indebtedness of the Southern Senatorial district to the BEDC which led to the subsequent disconnection of the district from the national grid, Oyedele stated that, “I am not aware of any debts being owed by any people but in any case, what I know is that every consumer apply to be connected for power supply. It is an individual thing, not a community thing.



“But I know that in Ondo South senatorial district, the place is not classified as eligible customers. This is an individual to those who applied from former NEPA. But I know that if you have an outstanding payment, you have to pay.”



However, for some of the residents of the district, they have been expressing mixed feelings as to the full restoration of power to the entire axis of the southern senatorial district.



According to majority of the people New Telegraph spoke to, not until electricity from the national grid is seen by residents before accepting the claims of the Federal Government of electricity supply to the area.



One of the residents, Festus Akinkunmi, insisted that if truly electricity would be switched on the area, BEDC should be sanctioned for what he described as deliberate act in order to cut off the affected communities from the national grid. 



He added that the decision had affected the livelihood of residents, particularly those in need of electricity to power their businesses.



“Why must I bear the brunt of my neighbour’s iniquity when we are definitely operating different meters? Why must I pay for the inefficiency of PHCN? Why should I be made to suffer just because BEDC wants to make an unending profit?”



“Sequel to the blackout, how many jobs do you think must have been lost? What about lives during emergencies at hospitals within this area and the industrious youths that have been rendered restless and restive owing to the fact that this area makes Ondo State part of Niger Delta? Students of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, how do they think have been coping with this abnormality?”



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The Mega City / Life

A near-fatal spiritual exercise



A near-fatal spiritual exercise


He has been fighting poverty with all his might. He needed to work harder in the fight. Solution? Ikechukwu Oke, an SS1 student of Ishieke Secondary School, Ebonyi, went on a 41-day dry fasting on a mountain in Abakaliki. He is now in a hospital, where he is battling for life. UCHENNA INYA reports




kechukwu Oke, a 19-year-old, lives with his elder brother, Obinna Oke, a mechanic, on Ishieke campus of Ebonyi State University and was enrolled into school by the brother. On daily basis, he hawks a basin of sachet water otherwise known as pure water and gala in Onitsha, Anambra State after every academic term to raise his school fees.



Things continued to get worse for him and his aged mother, a widow, who lives in the village. He decided to embark on a 41-day and nights dry fasting due to the family problems.



Oke did not inform any member of the family before embarking on the dry fasting. He had sneaked out to a popular prayer mountain at Azugwu in Abakaliki metropolis for the dry fasting, which he embarked on July 23, 2019 and ended it successfully. But he ended with certain health consequences; he became malnourished, gawky in appearance, couldn’t stand on his toes upright.     He  collapsed on the prayer ground. Those around him ran away, trying to avoid police harassment but only two persons summoned courage and carried him to his elder brother, who immediately contacted a patent medicine dealer, who temporarily resuscitated him.



The patent medicine dealer administered drip and some drugs on him to revive him. A  former House of Representatives member in the state, Peter Edeh, who is  an old boy of Ishieke Secondary  School, not satisfied with the local treatment,  mobilized  people  to take him to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA) for proper medical examination and immediate treatment.



Edeh said: “He is unable to speak but arrangements have been made to take him to hospital. His mother, a widow, is with him now. On a notepad beside him, he listed some of his problems which include constant spiritual attacks, family afflictions, and other academic and financial problems.”



New Telegraph visited him at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA) where he was undergoing medical treatment. He was however unable to speak. His mother, Elizabeth Oke, who broke down in tears, said: “Ikechukwu Oke is my fifth son; my husband died in 1996. Ikechukwu’s elder brother, my first son, took him from me to assist me in training him since their father is no more alive and things became difficult for us. He was enrolled into school by the elder brother. After school closes in any academic session, Ikechukwu always visited me to work for me. After assisting me in the village, he would move to Onitsha, where one of his sisters is living. The sister, who is one of my daughters, was adopted by someone and has been in Onitsha. So, Ikechukwu usually goes there to live with them and hawk pure water and gala to raise money for his school fees.  After hawking the water and gala, he usually comes back to me to inform me that he has gone back from Onitsha for his studies. 



She continued that, “he told me that he would still come back to me after seeing his elder brother, so as to harvest cassava on our farm to process and get garri (cassava flakes) he would use and go back to school for his feeding. His brother thought that he has gone back to see me not knowing he went for dry fasting and prayer on a mountain in Abakaliki.



“That his brother decided to come to home after expecting him and asked me where Ikechukwu is, whether he was no longer harvesting the cassava for food processing. “I didn’t know he was going for 41 days dry fasting. Nobody knew it because we wouldn’t allow him to do such long fasting. Though, he has been fasting and praying, this one is the longest.



“So, people brought Ikechukwu to the hospital and he was dying. They alerted me in the village and I trekked long distance under heavy downpour to come and see him in the hospital. When he was revived in the hospital, I asked him why he did such fasting without our consent and he said we would not allow him to do it, if he had informed us. He lamented that things were becoming more difficult for us and he had to do the dry fasting for God’s intervention. “We are actually suffering; we started suffering immediately I lost their father. Things are very difficult for us. Nobody asks whether we exist or not. I usually serve men building houses. I serve as a labourer and they pay me N1,400 daily from which I have been using to carter for my children. I almost lost one of my hands while doing this tedious job. It is a hard job. My son, Ikechukwu’s elder brother told me to stop the work but I don’t have other means of survival.



“Ikechukwu always complains of our condition and always do fasting and prayer for it. He usually complains that we are not moving forward, no improvement in our poor condition. He started his prayer in early stage when he was 11 years old. We are all Catholics and Ikechukwu belongs to Charismatic organisation in the church. He  belongs to various prayer groups in the church while I also belong to charity organisation. We are all committed in the things of God and we have been begging Him to have mercy on us and change our story for good.”



His elder brother, Obinna Oke, said nobody was aware of the boy’s action, describing it as shocking and bizarre.



He noted that he wouldn’t have allowed his brother to embark on such suicidal mission. He added: “Ikechukwu is my younger brother. He is a healthy person and does not suffer any ailment. He lives with me in Ishieke where I work as a mechanic. He  told me that he would like to visit our mother in the village and assist in her farming activities since school has closed for the term. It was on July that he said this to me and that he would visit our sister in Onitsha after helping our mother in the village. He promised to return to me and then left. He has no telephone line as to know how he was doing. I decided to go to our village and check on him. When I asked of him, I was told he has gone to Anambra State.



“While I was working in my site at Ishieke, people came to me and said that my brother, Ikechukwu has been brought back home and that he was dying. I asked who carried him home and I was told it was two persons, who said that they went for prayer at a mountain in Abakaliki where he collapsed. They said he did 41 days fasting and prayer without tasting anything. They told me that on the last day of the prayer, he collapsed and they decided to carry him home after inquiring where he comes from.  “I asked him why he decided to do that type of fasting without telling me because he was supposed to be taking water or fruit during such long fasting. He said there was no cause for alarm and that he decided to do the dry fasting because of our condition which he had severally complained have gone worst”. 



Oke disclosed that his brother wanted to become a Reverend Father but there  was no one to assist him which was why he put him in secondary school, so as to join Junior Seminary after graduation to know if he can actualise his ambition.



One of his friends, Felix Nonso,  said Ikechukwu had sought assistance from  government and private individuals following the family’s poor conditions but to no avail especially sponsoring him to actualise his dream of becoming a Catholic Priest.



“Fasting has been part of his life, though he has never embarked on dry fasting. He was still reading his Bible while being administered to by the doctors.  Engr Peter Edeh called to attend to him. All thanks to God, who preserved him for 41 days and nights dry fasting. I want to enjoin you who have the heart of assistance to ensure this boy end up in theology school,” he pleaded.



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A rain of cries, agonies in Ondo



A rain of  cries, agonies in Ondo



Across all communities and tribes, the significance of rain is always attributed as blessings and a bountiful harvest for the people.  Biologically, rain is of paramount importance for survival of living as it serves as the main source of water that keeps the cycle moving.

When it rains, particularly in rural communities, after the commencement of planting on farmlands, the satisfaction and fulfillment of joy on the faces of farmers can be likened to that of blossom and green cornfield that is always in contact with the rains.


However, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), as well as the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), had, earlier this year, predicted that most states in the country would experience torrential rains while about 600 Local Government Areas in the country are under threat of flood.



According to the NIHSA, in its warning, “no person should build structures within the flood plains, and people should clean their drainages.

“When the flood looks for a way to move and does not find any, it begins to pull down buildings and bridges.



“It is not easy to predict urban flooding. It  occurs suddenly mostly, but river flooding can be predicted to a high level of accuracy because of equipment along the river channels in Nigeria.”

NIMET, on its part, had appealed to government at all levels not to take the prediction with kid gloves.



“We call on all policy and decision-makers in the three tiers of government to take these predictions seriously and prepare adequately against any eventualities.

“Let me advise that with the manner climate change events are unfolding globally whereby a number of predictions are upturned.”



Meanwhile, on August 3, 2019, it became evident that the warnings given were not yielded to by those concerned as the rains that fell in some parts of Ondo State came bearing sorrow and agony as it left the joy expected with it behind. 

Following the torrential rain in some parts of the state, many residents were rendered homeless due to the flooding, which led to the collapse of residential buildings and shops.



Also, hundreds of hectares of farmlands which were almost ready for cultivation were swept off, with farmers gnashing their teeth as their investment went under the waters before their eyes.  Mostly affected by the flood were those residing in Alade-Idanre and Odode-Idanre town in Idanre Local Government as well as those in Ayede-Ogbese community in Akure North Local Government Areas of Ondo State.



The flood, it was gathered, occurred as a result of heavy downpour in the state which subsequently led to the overflow of the rivers within the affected communities, particularly the Ogbese River, which stretches from Ekiti into Ondo State. 



In Alade-Idanre, areas affected by the flood were, Oke Mapo, Opa, Yaba Alade Idanre among others while in Ayede-Ogbese many areas were affected.



It was estimated that property running into millions of naira were destroyed by the flood as it also made movement impossible as most of the affected residents were stranded all through the downpour.



Also, those whose houses collapsed completely groaned of having nowhere to lay their heads, stressing that they could not salvage any of the property during the havoc.



While calling for urgent intervention from relevant government agencies, particularly, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to come to their aid, the affected residents lamented that the means of their livelihood have been swept away, adding that all they toiled to achieve in life were destroyed by the flood with nowhere to put their families.



According to one of the victims, Banji Akinkunmi, who pleaded with the government to come to his rescue, all his life efforts have been taken away from him by the flood. He expressed worries that due to his old age, he had nobody to run to nor had any income to fall back upon.



Another victim, Ayo Olusola, a retiree, lamented that his fishery business, which he set up with all his life savings was swept away by the flood.         



Mrs. Rhoda Saliu, a widow in her 60s, who runs a poultry farm, narrated that the birds which she just purchased days to the disaster were all destroyed by the flood.



According to her, she was nurturing the birds for sales ahead of the forthcoming festive season in December.


Also, those still counting their losses in the incident were rice farmers in the state. The farmers disclosed that the flood, which occurred as a result of torrential rainfall, destroyed over 600 hectares of their rice farms located in both Eleyowo and Ogbese.


The farmers, who were obviously in pains, stated the rice farms which has been totally submerged in water were expected to be harvested in October.



Pastor Olayinka Labiran, who is the coordinator of rice farmers in the state, lamented that such calamity has never befallen his members since they ventured into rice farming.                      



The rice farmers group with the name, Federated FADAMA Rice Association, appealed to the federal, state governments as well as other relevant agencies to come to their assistance, stressing that over 373 rice farmers came together with their resources to cultivate the farm.



Labiran added that a member had at least one hectare, which was made possible through the loans obtained from the Bank of Agriculture under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme.



“We are in a state of mourning because of the loss the flood had caused us.”


Meanwhile, on its apart, the Ondo State Government attributed the flooding in the state to the construction of buildings on river courses in the state. 



It, however, unfolded plans to demolish structures erected on waterways in different parts of the state.



According to the Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, who inspected the havoc wreaked by the downpour, the demolition is part of measures to prevent flooding in the state.

Ajayi, who is acting as governor, promised that the state government would try its best in terms of bringing relief to the affected victims soon.



“We thank God no life was lost. Small  flood that is not much like this had killed, but we thank God such did not happen in Idanre.



“I was in Ibadan when this happened. We have inspected the houses. I will advise that our people should leave the affected houses to prevent another disaster.



“Some people build houses along the river course. We will ensure that no matter how highly placed the person is, we will demolish the house to have a free flow of water,” he said.



Speaking on the magnitude of the havoc, the Odopetu of Ayede-Ogbese, High Chief Oladimeji Abitogun, stated that the government is only chasing shadows with its intending approach to the issues.



According to Abitogun, the Ogbese river has never been dredged, adding that the drainage within and around the community, which has blocked, overtime, has never been channelized which he said was the resultant effect of the heavy downpour.



He cautioned that urgent measures must be activated to prevent such from recurring in the future instead of strategies currently being employed by the government at scoring unnecessary political points.



“Farms have been destroyed. Buildings  have collapsed. Cars  have been swept away. Beyond that, people have lost so much in terms of valuable property.



“Even crocodiles and other amphibious animals now lurk around the community. That is the situation with us in Ogbese now.  “That kind of statement from a political leader that houses will be demolished is unfortunate. That is what I called a third world mentality. Leadership is more than political expediency.



“I have listened to some of the officials of the Ondo State government talking down on them as regards the flood as if the government does not have any blame in all of this.



“How about officials of the physical planning office, they do not do due diligence when they give approvals?



“They should look at the effects of erosion washing the riverbed as well as the blocked drainage. People have lived on these plains for centuries without any issue.   “Will the government also say that the flooding that occurs on the airport road in Oba-Ile is caused by people building houses on waterways too?



“We must look at this in a more fundamental and germane way other than saying it is because the people are building houses on waterways.



“They should release the relief material first for the affected victims. They should provide short and long-time measures,” Abitogun stated.

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Giving succour to IDPs



Giving succour to IDPs

One of the major challenges confronting the Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration in Benue State since assumption of office in 2015 is security.



The attacks on communities in various local government areas in the state such as Guma, Makurdi, Kwande, Agatu, Tarka, Logo, Gwer, Gwer West and Buruku by militant herdsmen no doubt buttresses the intensity of security challenge within the state.



Of particular note in the series of the attacks is the attack on Tomatar, a village in Saghev council ward of Guma local government area in the governor’s home, January 2, 2018 by herdsmen, where over 70 were killed. It was one of the most devastating moments in the history of the state.



The attack on Mbalom during which two Catholic Priests, Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha were gruesomely murdered along with worshippers by men suspected to be herdsmen militia was another dark moment.



Also worrisome are the series of attacks on Agatu leading to loss of lives and property which exposed the Ortom administration to the enormity of the insecurity and humanitarian challenges it had to contend with.



Sadly, these attacks have rendered many people homeless, leaving the state government with no other option than to establish camps in strategic locations of the affected local government areas to provide shelter and succour for the displaced.



In the midst of these challenges, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency SEMA has thus far been proactive in providing relief materials and other forms of humanitarian support to cushion effects of the hardship on victims of such attacks.



Proper attention has been accorded Cameroonians taking refuge in Abande and Imande Agbatse in Kwande local government area of the state that Governor Ortom sees as part of his administration’s responsibility to cater for.



It is quite obvious that the Executive Secretary of SEMA, Mr. Emmanuel Shior understands the mandate given him by the governor as he has evolved strategies to ensure prompt intervention in all humanitarian challenges and emergencies requiring such intervention. No doubt, it was perhaps based on this understanding that, Mr. Shior, on assumption of office, established the Abande and Imande Agbatse refugees camps in Kwande to address the humanitarian crisis.



Governor Ortom however, later approved the relocation of the more than 3, 000 refugees camped at the Abande and Imande Agbatse to Anyake settlement in Kwande.



With the approval, Mr. Shior also established Internally Displaced Persons camps in Daudu, Guma local government, Abeda Anyiin in Logo, Abagena in Makurdi and Naka in Gwer West where food and non food items are distributed on regular basis.



New Telegraph gathered that the state government through SEMA is currently catering for about 483, 692 displaced persons spread across the state in both official and non official camps.



The IDP camps are being effectively managed to ensure that the health facilities and other social amenities such as boreholes provided by the government are functioning.



Similarly, the state government, through the Ministry of Health has provided clinics in the IDPs camps and deployed medical personnel there to manage them while complicated cases are referred to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) and the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), all in Makurdi.



Also worthy of note is that the security of the IDPs and indeed all people of the state is a priority to the Ortom administration hence efforts are constantly made to secure all vulnerable communities from herdsmen attacks and deployment of security personnel to man the camps.



In order not to leave the children out of school for so long in view of their condition, the state government has established emergency schools under supervision of staff of the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to teach them.



In addition, individuals and organisations have been partnering with SEMA to voluntarily impact knowledge to children in the various camps with the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Benue state chapter taking its 2019 literary awareness campaign to Abagena and Daudu camps.



The successes recorded by SEMA under Mr. Shior are largely due to the unwavering commitment of Governor Ortom to the security and welfare of the IDPs in the camps.



Gov. Ortom has also consistently called on the federal government to release the N10 billion it promised through the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to assist states that had been ravaged as a result of attacks on their communities due to herders- farmers crisis.  It is also important to acknowledge that the state government has, through SEMA, built a strong synergy with NGOs such as United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which has often yielded positive results. For instance, UNICEF works in collaboration with SUBEB to run the emergency schools in all the IDPs camps to ensure that the children gain access to quality education same way those in the normal free societies do.



Apart from victims of attacks by herdsmen, victims of flooding in the state have no doubt, over the years, also benefitted from SEMA’s largesse as many of them, especially from the last devastating rains, were presented with relief materials.

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Saved from death’s jaw



Saved from death’s jaw

For a kidney patient, death can hit anytime. But 9-year-old Victoria Iboi in Ogheghe village, Auchi, Edo State, has escaped after undergoing successful transplant sponsored by Ebonyi-trained Medical Doctor, Obinna Oke. UCHENNA INYA reports




ictoria’s mum, a hair dresser and mother of five, was evicted from her shop four months ago for her inability to pay her rent. She had solicited for help from different quarters to enable her realize the rent and return to her business but to no avail. 



Her husband, a Toyota Mechanic apprentice, could not raise the money and the  health condition of Victoria, her daughter, who is  a twin, compounded her woes.



The little girl was diagnosed of kidney disease. The woman and her husband had done all within their power, begged everyone they knew, relations and politicians, approached many radio and TV stations, took to social media but nothing came out, not even enough money to afford the maintenance of Victoria’s  hemodialysis to avoid her sudden death.



But Luck smiled on her when an Ebonyi trained Medical Doctor, Obinna Oke, who is currently on his Housemanship in Benin Edo State,  got wind of the worsening  health of the 9-year-old girl and resolved to tackle it.



Oke, before moving to Benin, Edo State for the Housemanship/Intenship, floated  a foundation known as JOFA Global Foundation to sponsor  free hemodialysis for paediatric patients between 0-18 months  in any Nigerian hospital  of indigent parents who cannot afford the procedure. He put N3million into the fund.



Oke, who is Chairman/CEO of the foundation said: “Once we verify the authenticity of their condition through their care providers, we make a transfer of the required sum for the procedure to the hospital or clinic or through the managing physician, with a token for the patient’s upkeep.



“This however, shall only cover for emergency situations until the definitive cure (e.g renal transplant) or sponsorship for maintenance hemodialysis for such a patient is sort by their relations or any other means most of which the foundation shall help”.



However, the foundation took the bull by the horn and sponsored Victoria’s kidney transplant. The disease kept the girl popularly called Vicky out of school. N10million was spent on the transplant to save Victoria from the chronic kidney disease.



Oke said: “I had been distraught for over three months now but today, my heart pumps with joy. About three months ago, a Paediatrician and a nurse phoned me from the Renal Unit where I work concerning a  9  year old girl, Victoria, with Chronic Kidney Disease, who needed urgent hemodialysis and whose parents were indigent. They were aware of my offer (through JOFA Global Foundation) for such sick children of poor parents, who needed dialysis but can’t afford it.



“Victoria couldn’t later be dialyzed because of difficulty in getting femoral access due to the swelling that developed from previous cannulations. They were meant to buy a tunnel line but there was no way they could afford it. Her poor, helpless Mum, a hair dresser and mother of five, who was evicted from her shop four months ago because of inability to foot the rent, kept calling for help. Her Dad also, a Peugeot car mechanic, had to become an apprentice again of Toyota since Peugeot cars have nearly become extinct. Victoria’s ill-health had worsened their condition.



“Attempts at getting her a suitable tunnel was futile as an appropriate size was not readily available. This led to a worsening of her condition and created a state of hopelessness for her with a deep sense of urgency for us to do something. She had become bloated with fluid, in persistent pain, in constant dyspnoea and could only manage to sleep sitting up all night.  We didn’t give up until Vicky was successfully cannulated and subsequently began to dialyze although once weekly as against the recommended two to three times weekly. “Vicky doesn’t allow any other doctor touch her apart from me. From then on, people call her my daughter. She has a twin brother, Victor, who is in Primary 3. Victor hasn’t the slighted idea what Victoria goes through, although he is said to often cry beside her on such terrible nights when it appeared Vicky would breathe her last. Both are inseparable. Vicky had stopped school for over six months now because of her ill-health. Yet, she’s so brilliant and adorable, and gets everyone asking God why she had to be that unfortunate. “Vicky’s recent cold mood sends deep fear down my spine. She no longer cries of pain, even as we drive the big cannula down her thighs, a process that sends the adults up the couch in pain irrespective of the level of local anaesthetic agent infiltrated. She now merely stiffens and gasps and then continues to stare vacantly at the ceiling. She seldom talks or smiles anymore even when I play her favourite cartoon, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Imagining the horror on her mind suffocates my soul.



“Her prognosis had become very poor. Her Managing Consultant had many times counselled her parents in light of it, and on the only window of recovery; Kidney transplant. A procedure that takes average of 10 million, excluding the cost of a donor kidney, if a free donor isn’t available. “Vicky turned nine on the first of last month. When she was asked to make a wish, everyone knew what poor Vicky would ask. Of course, to get better and be strong. But no, she limped up on her feet and with a tinge of smile that she hadn’t afforded for a long time said: “I wish to be the flower girl at Dr Obinna’s wedding.” My heart was instantly ripped apart even as the nurses and my colleagues hummed in fondness.



I got home that day and wept. I couldn’t sleep all night. I discovered I would never make peace with myself should I wake up any day to hear that Vicky was no more.



“A week ago, after Vicky’s session of dialysis, I realized something needed to be done before the obvious would happen. So, I sat up at night and wrote a long mail to the only stranger-friend I knew, a saint in human flesh.



It wasn’t for him to expressly help. I wrote him to pour out the frustration and despair that Vicky’s condition had enmeshed me in and for him to help me in one of the steps I had determined to beg even the whole world for her sake.



“Later in the evening, I got the most shocking reply from this stranger. He wrote: “Dear Doc. Let’s not waste more time. Please initiate the process of getting her a kidney transplant. I will raise the required funds.



“The next day, I woke up to a credit alert of N10million and I couldn’t believe my eyes. This particular stranger who pleads anonymity has done it again! So, simply as before and as always. Of note is that I had long transferred this sum successfully to the hospital that carried out the transplant.”

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Burga: One community, many problems



Burga: One community, many problems


Burga is a big community in Dull ward, Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State. Like any other community, Burga is faced with many problems that need urgent attention to reduce some of their sufferings and pending crisis that may erupt between the people of Bal village and Burga over market relocation.



Checks by New Telegraph revealed that the market was temporarily  relocated to Bal village as a result of series of complaints by Fulani herdsmen, who constantly alleged that on every market day, Burga people use to steal their motorbikes and other valuables. That is nearly leading to a showdown. But now that the people have resolved their differences to return the market to its former host community, Burga, has become a tug of war between Burga and Bal communities and if not addressed, may lead to a breakdown of peace in the two communities.



Speaking to New Telegraph, a community leader in Burga town, Alhaji Musa Talle Burga, said initially, the problem started with the Fulani over missing motorbikes on each market day and the market was relocated to Bal village to douse tension. 



According to him, another problem, “what we are facing is that in the whole of Tafawa Balewa LGA, there is no big market like Burga market but we have no shops. Apart from that, currently, we are having problem with Fulani, even though that problem has been settled. The problem between us and the Fulani was that the Fulani accused our people of stealing their motorbikes and other valuables each market day and because of that, the market was relocated to Bal village for peace to reign.”



Burga said that now that their feud has been settled with the Fulani, another one erupted between the Bal community and Burga as the Bal people have resisted any move to return the market to Burga. “We want our market back but the people of Bal village are claiming the ownership of the market day and any attempt to relocate the market to Burga would result to breakdown of law and order,” he said.



“Now that we have reconciled our differences with the Fulani, we are expecting that the market should go back to its former place but we fixed Monday for our market day, Bal community fixed Monday. We fixed Tuesday, Bal fix Tuesday and it is getting out of control because it is really affecting our business and other trade. They wanted crisis but our people rejected it. We have elders who are prevailing on us. If not, by now, we would have shed blood.”



Speaking on flooding, Burga, who is 61 years old, said that, the recent flooding in their area affected 50 houses and destroyed 30 farm lands.



He said the flood washed away maize farms and the sand covered rice farms, saying they are yet to record death as a result of the flood but those living near the river bank are always afraid of the unknown. He said another problem in Burga, is youth restiveness.



“We have many youths in Burga who have finished secondary schools but have no work to do. Some of them are willing to further their education but no one to help them. As you can see, we are poor, we cannot sponsor them anywhere for education.”               “We need help ourselves, not to talk of helping others. We need government to help us in this situation. We are calling on people to help us.”



He said some of them are farmers but this year 2019, they don’t have enough fertilizer in good time and when the fertilizer is available, the high cost drives them away.



“A bag of fertilizer costs N10, 000 in this community and we are looking for what to eat. How can I carry N10,000 to buy a bag of fertilizer. It just would not work like that. To buy a bag fertilizer at N10, 000 is better but a bag of maize is at N7, 000. But if government would subsidize it at affordable price like N5, 000 or below, we will be able to afford.  “We are also into dry season farming but last year 2018, the farming was not good for us due to some certain reasons and this year’s rainy season farming, flood has washed away our farmlands and we don’t get fertilizer in time which is a double tragedy for us.”




He said their people are battling with malaria, pneumonia and typhoid because of cold and lack of enough mosquito nets. “Some people have three wives and 10 children but they gave them three mosquito nets. That would not do them anything. Our hospitals have no drugs but we have enough manpower.”



Commenting on road project embarked on by Governor Bala Muhammad Abdulakadir in the Burga community, he said it was a blessing to the people of the community and it would further boost their businesses and link them with other communities within a short time.



“We are yet to receive any intervention from government but we are hoping and expecting government to do something about our situation. I am calling on government to help us with fertilizer, nothing more!”

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A hell of a flood in Ekiti



A hell of a flood in Ekiti

Ekiti State witnessed a sensational rainfall which began on Sunday August 25. The downpour became heavier on Wednesday August 27 and ravaged sections of Ekiti communities.



The heavier downpour, which started around 6.30pm on Wednesday and lasted till the following day, Thursday 28th of August, cut off from the main city, certain parts of Ado metropolis and some parts of Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of the state.



Mainly affected in Ado Ekiti is Ureje area, along Federal Polytechnic road and other adjoining communities like Boom Town, Eminrin and Ijelu village, fondly called Aba Oyinbo by commuters.



A resident of the area, Mr Idowu Adaramoye, said the bridge on Ado-Ijan-Ikare road, which also linked the capital city to the Federal Polytechnic region was overran by flood around 1am and lasted till 6am.



He said commuters travelling along that route between that six hours had to park their vehicles at the nearby filling stations and waited until it subsided. The source said the flood also surged into a church and about five houses located within the vicinity of  Ureje Bridge .  “Nobody could cross that bridge to the Polytechnic side or go into Ado Ekiti city. Most of the residents had to wake up and catch a glimpse of the ravaging fast moving water.”



Also, residents of the Boom Town, Eminrin , had to stay indoors till 12 noon before they could cross Ureje stream that overflowed   their environment. The Chairman of the community, Mr Yemi Oladimeji, appealed to government to dredge the stream to lower the water to prevent recurrence of the flooding.  “This Ureje stream was dredged about three years ago but the job was not well done and the effect is what we are feeling today. About four houses could have been destroyed but for communal efforts made to ensure that we concrete the same inner Ureje bridge that linked us with Oke Ila region.



“There is need for government to do more thorough job to dredge inorder to reduce the water level.”



In Ikere Ekiti, aftermath of the downpour has rendered some residents homeless while property worth millions of Naira was destroyed by flood.



The affected areas are Kajola Adun Ogbon in Oke Osun, Alade filling Station Area in Odo Oja. When New Telegraph visited the affected areas, it was observed that the downpour led to flooding which submerged many houses, livestock gardens and cars.



Some occupants of the affected houses are now trapped within, while others are finding it difficult to get to their houses as the whole environment has now been flooded.



Flooding has been a usual occurrence annually in Ikere Ekiti. Some residents are stranded and helpless, calling for the assistance of government.



The Commissioner for Environment in Ekiti State, Olugbenga Agbeyo, said he was notified about the incident by the speaker of the Ekiti State Assembly, Right Hon. Funminiyi Afuye and since then, he had started contacting relevant authorities to do the needful.



Earlier, the Ekiti State Government said it has commenced proactive measures to save residents from flood and other natural disasters.



The Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, said the measures include enlightenment of the populace, moral and material support for disaster response agencies, among others.



Egbeyemi explained that the state government would aid the state fire services in providing emergency and prompt response services, to areas and individuals affected by natural disasters.  Egbeyemi gave the assurance on Tuesday, while receiving the Head of Operation, National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Ekiti State, Mr Olusegun Afolayan, in his office in Ado Ekiti. Egbeyemi stressed that the state government, through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has embarked on sensitization programmes that would discourage the people from blocking drainages with refuse and sewage that can prevent the free flow of water during this rainy season.



This was sequel to the forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agencies (NIMET) that over 20 states of the federation would be overrun by massive floods in the month of September.



Egbeyemi, who commended the efforts of NEMA across the country in bringing succour to natural disaster victims, urged the officials to shun nepotism, sectionalism and be fair to all disaster victims irrespective of their tribe, ethnicity, and location.



The Deputy Governor also added that the state government through SEMA was mobilizing all forces to ensure that the state is clean and to avert the 2019 flood prediction through the provision of waste bin to houses.



Egbeyemi promised that the state government would ensure full compliance to NEMA directives and advice that would make the state safe from flood and other imminent natural disasters.  Afolayan explained that the essence of his visit to Ekiti State was to seek for the assistance of the state government in creating enabling environment for a functional SEMA, Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs)and other stakeholders in the states.



The NEMA Head of operation in the state, who commended the state government for cooperating with the agency in responding and tackling of disaster challenges, said vision of the agency was to build a culture of preparedness, mitigation, response and community resilience to disaster in Nigeria.



While disclosing that the agency recently embarked on repositioning, restructuring and reengineering its activities in tackling disaster challenges, Afolayan noted that concerted efforts and active collaboration were needed between all emergency response services to provide a viable disaster rescue response to the distressed.



Afolayan stressed that all hands must be on deck to mitigate and respond to imminent flood disaster that might likely occur as a result of heavy rain fall as predicted by NIMET, and NIHSA 2019 Annual Flood Outlook.



The NEMA Boss in Ekiti further appealed to the state government to fund SEMA and Fire Services to make them more proactive and provide operational vehicles to them to enhance their performance during intervention.



Afolayan wanted the state government to produce media jingles that would sensitize and enlighten the people of the state against indecent dumping of refuse in gutters and deviate from blocking waters ways to avert flood disasters.

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The Mega City / Life

Help! Don’t let me lose my only leg!



Help! Don’t let me lose my only leg!

Except for urgent intervention, this physically challenged man may lose his second leg following what he described as ‘spiritual attack’. He narrated his pathetic story to MURITALA AYINLA in this report




e walked gently into the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Lagos Secretariat, Alausa, struggling with his clutches. Making sure that he got the rapt attention he wanted, he wasted no time to pour out his pains. Despite putting up great efforts at mustering courage to share his story in the secluded office, wrinkles of hopelessness laced with frustration were as  clear as crystal all over him as he took his seat.



However, as the 60-year-old amputee started narrating his tales of woes and negligence, and how he lost one of his legs to an accident in 1982, he lost the inmost struggle to hold back his tears.  He sobbed intermittently as he continually punctuated his conversation with this New Telegraph amidst sob and tears over fear of losing his only hope. He is Osawemwenze Francis from Oredo Local Government of Edo State.



According to the Edo State born technician, he had a dream to become a rich and successful businessman. With little education his parent could afford him, he had made efforts to develop himself and broadened his skills. He had ventured into so many trades that many of his contemporaries who had humble background like him refused to dabble into for fear of failure and difficulty.   



Through his persistent struggle and adventurous enterprise, he rose more than his peers and became more privileged than most of his contemporaries. But in 1982, his fortune changed! The supposed bright star began to go gloomy courtesy of an unfortunate incident that nearly rendered him permanently incapacitated. 



According to him, he had no premonition that things would suddenly go awry because he had a call to pick up a contract that could possible lead to his breakthrough but he never got to the office of the firm that invited him when he met his waterloo. He had a fatal accident that left him maimed!



Hear him: ”In 1982, I got a contract in Delta State. I was called upon with my friend to come and brief the firm on the estimate of the job. On our way to Warri, we had a fatal accident where I was told almost everyone involved died. For months, I was unconscious. Before I could regain my consciousness, my leg had been amputated. Based on what I was told, when the accident occurred, I was taken to Specialist Hospital on Sapele Road in Benin City. The only thing I could remember was that my left leg was in Plaster of Paris, POP and I used to have serious pains on the leg.



“When the pain was too much for me to bear, the family decided to discharge me from the hospital and took me to a native doctor, who specialised in bone mending. When we got there, the native doctor told them that the POP had to be removed. After critically examining the damage the accident had caused on my leg, the native doctor discharged us and advised that the leg should be amputated. A doctor told me I had seven days left to die unless the leg was amputated.”



“For me and the entire family, it was a very tough decision to take but eventually we all had to agree that the leg should go for me to remain alive.”



He explained further that, after losing the leg, he intensified his struggle and hustle to become successful in life. Realising that he had no wherewithal to further his education, especially having become physically-challenged, he began to learn vocational skills, from a radio technician near his house in Benin City for two years before setting up his own shop in the city.



“I had a shop in Benin City and that was where I was able to raise money to enroll myself at the Benin Technical College to have better understanding of the technicality of electronic repair work. I can repair plasma TV, massaging machine and other electronics,” he said.



But like thousands of Lagosians today, the search for greener pasture made him to come to Lagos. As envisaged, when he got to Lagos, life was good to the extent that he was not disappointed with his ambition to make a better living. He visited Alaba International market regularly to help people buy television and other electronics. He helped his clients to replace their damaged spare parts and fixed them.



He got more patronage than his contemporaries who are not physically challenged as he was usually busy fixing one electronic gadget or the other. He became the first choice of anyone who wants to repair a faulty electronic. There was never a dull moment for him. Things were so good for him that he bought a motorcycle that he takes to the electronic market to buy spare parts.



But in 2015, he had an experience that is currently threatening his existence. Amidst tears he said: “It was in 2015. I left home around 9am. I was hale and hearty. I had gone to Alaba International Market to buy Plasma for a customer. When I returned, I was feeling feverish. I went to a nearby chemist to buy drug and slept off after taking the drug. By the time I woke up, my leg had become red and up till now, that is how I started battling with this remaining leg.




“I have been spending so much money, moving from one traditional doctor to the other. I have been to Ijebu and other towns of known spiritual doctors in Nigeria but none could save me. I was told it was a spiritual arrow. I don’t want to lose this only leg. I’m begging the Lagos State government and the Governor, Mr Babjide Sanwo-Olu, through the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs, LASODA and other public spirited Nigerians to help me save this leg.”



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The Mega City / Life

Tanker explosion: When Hell came to Niger



Tanker explosion: When Hell came to Niger

Indiscriminate parking and reckless driving by articulated vehicles, especially fuel laden tankers have sent many to their early graves. The recent explosions in parts of Niger State have claimed over 30 lives, injured many, destroyed houses, shops and cars. In this report, DANIEL ATORI writes on the negative effect and need for the federal and state governments to place stringent measures to curtail the illegalities of these drivers



he most recent of these explosions occurred on Friday in Dikko, Suleja, where five people were confirmed dead with about 20 persons severely burnt and currently receiving medical attention.



It would be noted that on August 13,2019, no fewer than 15 people lost their lives at Dakwa junction in Madalla Niger State, in an accident involving a gas tanker at about 2:50pm after the driver lost control.



The tanker driver, the Personnel of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said, had successfully dodged a cyclist (an okada rider) who suddenly crossed the highway from the opposite direction. The tanker, he added, crushed several tricycles parked on the roadside with their operators and passengers inside.



New Telegraph counted five badly damaged tricycles and a makeshift shop which was severely destroyed by the truck.



A witness said: “You know this spot is notorious for truck accidents. The truck, which we later discovered to be carrying gas, was heading to Kaduna Road from probably inside Abuja. An okada rider, with a female passenger, crossed from the opposite direction.”



Also, on September 21, 2018, a tanker explosion burnt down at least 30 houses and shops in Maje community in Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State.



The tanker explosion, according to an eyewitness occurred after the tanker’s brake failed. The tanker was said to have bumped into three vehicles before it rammed into shops and houses and exploded. Reports from officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said no lives were lost in the explosion; only properties were lost. When New Telegraph visited the General Hospital, victims could barely speak as most of them were still in shock and groaning in pains.



Some of the victims were however taken to traditional homes as there were claims that they were not being attended to at the General Hospital.



The cause of the explosion, according to an eyewitness, was that the tanker driver was told not to park where he did after several warnings but ignored advice and the explosion happened while he was trying to park by the road side.



In 2016, a fatal accident in Tegina town in Rafi Local Government Area, of Niger State happened and it claimed 14 persons  after a petrol tanker exploded.



Expressing concern over the incessant explosions, the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, on Sunday decried the activities of tanker and trailer drivers who park illegally by the roadside, warning that the state government would no longer condone such illegalities.



He said it was quite unfortunate that the accident happened. As a government, we are pained to see the lives of our people being cut short, especially as a result of recklessness of drivers. “We will enforce all necessary laws with regards to illegal motor parks and other activities on the highways. I have therefore directed that the illegal park where the accident took place and other illegal motor parks and markets in the state be cleared off. We will ensure that our laws are enforced to the letter.”



He also commiserated with victims of the explosion, which left three persons dead, several injured, 19 cars and over 35 shops razed. The governor described the incident that occurred at Diko junction in Niger State, along Abuja-Kaduna Highway as unfortunate, saying, “it was heartbreaking to see lives of innocent people lost as a result of the recklessness of an individual.”



It would be recalled that the tanker explosion occurred late hours of Friday and lasted until 4:00am on Saturday following intervention by the State Fire Service men in collaboration with the Federal Fire Service from the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.



Furthermore, Bello directed the State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) to take assessment of the accident with a view to ascertaining the level of damages done.



Earlier, the Director-General of NSEMA, Mr Ibrahim Inga, who led other officials of the agency to the scene of the accident, said financial assistance would be provided to the victims, who are alive to enable them undergo treatment, as an immediate intervention by the state government.



He said the agency would also compile its report and submit to the governor for further action.



Also, at the scene of the accident was the Secretary to the State Government, Mallam Ahmed Matane and the Speaker of the State Assembly, Right Honourable Abdullahi Bawa Wuse.



On his part, the SSG said the state government would work with all relevant agencies in the state to ensure compliance to laws regulating motor parks and business operation on highways. He encouraged the survivors not to despair in their moment of trial, but to remain in faith, praying for speedy recovery for them.



The Speaker, on his part, enjoined local government councils to also tighten all loose ends in their laws to ensure enforcement at all means.



According to him, the challenge was not that there were no legislations to check the illegal activities of tanker drivers and other motorists, but the lack of enforcement of the legislations by those charged with the responsibility of doing so had given room for such.



The Unit Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr. Gabriel Amawo, said the corps would work with other relevant agencies to ensure safe and immediate evacuation of the burnt vehicles and the tanker to avoid further explosion as fuel might still be in it.



The victims and especially, survivors currently need the support and assistance of the Federal and state governments as the degrees of burnt.



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