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Anambra Igala-speaking communities protest marginalisation

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By Chidex Onyemah

Over 300 protesters from Igala-speaking communities in Anambra West local government area of Anambra state, yesterday stormed the Anambra state Government House, Awka, to protest alleged marginalisation in the state.

The protesters, drawn Nzam and Olumbanasa, under the aegis of Nzam Development Union, also decried what they called pathetic condition of the local government secretariat located at Nzam and lack of access road and other abandoned projects in the area.

Orient Daily reports that the protesters, brandishing placards bearing various inscriptions such as “Obiano tell the contractor to complete our road”; “our people are dying”, “Anambra govt come to our aid”, among others, accused the transition chairman of Anambra West local government area, Mr Syvester Orji, of failing to address the plights of people in the area as well as dereliction of duty.

They also accused the Anambra state government of enslaving them in their ancestral land with continuous denial of social amenities in the area.

The youth leader of the communities, Engr. Emeka Nwolisa, while addressing newsmen, discredited the Anambra state government for abandoning the Nzam community. This, according to him, has led to the absence of social amenities in the area. Nwolisa revealed that Nzam, being the local government headquarter of Anambra West, was so merely on paper as it was not functional. He said that past chairmen of the council abandoned the secretariat on the excuse of bad road.

“The local government secretariat has been practically abandoned in years past by chairmen on excuse of inability to access the secretariat by road. No doubt, the level of negligence displayed over the years till date by the chairmen has negatively affected the pace of development of the council headquarters and the local government at large, as even the current caretaker chairman has rather chosen to use a room apartment at Umueze Anam to run the affairs of the council,” he said.

Also speaking, the president general of the Nzam community, Fidelis Nnazo, acknoledged that they currently have indigenes in the Anambra state government, top among them being the commissioner for lands, Bonaventure Enemali. He revealed that letters had been written to the government, some directly, some through their ‘sons’ in government but that all seem to have been fruitless, the reason they resorted to the protest.

In his words; “It is clear that we are being marginalised as Nzam is the only local government headquarters in Nigeria so abandoned. The feeling is terrible. There is no good water, good roads, hospitals. Though we speak Igala, and not Igbo, we are still part of the state. It is painful that we would have to travel down to Asaba or Onitsha, when we have health emergencies, as there is no hospital in Nzam.

He listed areas they want Governor Obiano to intervene in the area to include the completion of internally displaced persons building that has been abandoned by the contractors since the past seven years, Water Reticulation Project abandoned six years ago, lack of security vehicle in the Nzam police station, complete absence of electricity since the creation of Anambra state in 1991, lack of Medical Centre and lack of judiciary institutions. They also demanded Obiano’s intervention on the ongoing Mmiata-Nzam road construction to ensure its completion so as to ease the transportation system in the covered.

He equally appealed to Governor Obiano to intervene in ensuring full utilisation of the government-approved and existing secretariat in Nzam as the headquarters of Anambra West local government area by directing the current chairman and subsequent ones to enable the local people to feel the impact and dividends attributed to the creation of the local government.

Addressing the protesters, the public relations officer of the ministry of local government, chieftaincy and affairs, Henry Nwasike, commended the protesters for being peaceful in their demonstrations. He assured them that their requests would get to both the commissioner’s and governor’s table.

“Anambra West is one of the local governments in the state and must not be overlooked. The fact that you have a commissioner from your town should make you understand that you are not abandoned. Although this administration is winding up, I believe the governor, Chief Willie Obiano, will intervene and proffer solutions to your needs when these requests get to his table,” Nwasike said.

In their separate reactions on the development, the transition chairman of Anambra West local government area, Mr Silvester Orji and the lawmaker representing Anambra West State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Patrick Udoba, said they had no knowledge of what the people are protesting about.

They accused the opposition of using some selected youth in the area to tarnish the APGA government, especially now that the state is about to conduct its governorship election.

They denied the allegations that the community had no hospital and road. On electricity, they noted that the blackout was a result of the flood that submerged the road and that the work to restore power supply in the area was near completion.

They appealed to the protesters to appreciate the present administration of Governor Willie Obiano’s 20 million naira choose-your-project initiative that has put a smile on the faces of many youths in the area.

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