Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Obubra Local Government Area is one of the six local government areas in the Cross River Central Senatorial District. It is one of the oldest local government areas in Nigeria which was established as a British Colonial District in 1902. It covered areas bounded by Abakaliki and Ikom to the North, and Afikpo and Calabar to the South.
At present, Obubra has two major government establishments- the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp and the Ibrahim Babangida College of Agriculture which is now Faculty of Agriculture, University of Cross River State, UNICROSS. Obubra has Over 90 villages and 11 Political wards.
Notable among the 11 Wards is Ofumbongha/Yala. The Political Ward is notable because a former deputy governor of the state, Late John Okpa, a former Commissioner for Works, Engr. Pius Okpa, a former member of the State House of Assembly, Fabian Okpa and the current local government chairman of Obubra are all indigenes of the community.
Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned personalities has been able to attract any community development project to their people which has made the community remain in a sorry state. There are also reports that the community has been the root cause of their situation. That is from an unconfirmed source.
Navigating through the various link roads in the area to confirm the situation of things, TNN observed that generally, Obubra still has a long way to go in terms of development while the condition of things in Ofumbongha is indeed an eyesore.
Fortunately, TNN did not just observe the situation of things in the community in isolation; efforts were made to see the community’s council chiefs during their meeting at Onyina Community playground. In truth, the chiefs who gladly gave audience to TNN at their council meeting were disappointed at the way they have been neglected by the government. They were sad that despite all their efforts, abandoned projects are littered all over the community.
In his complaint, HRH Chief Lawrence Ayang who is the Clan Head of Onyina community debunked the report that the community has been the cause of their situation. He said “the major issue we have is road. Apart from the road, we don’t have any problem. This is a peaceful community. The construction of the road began about 20 years ago but was abandoned. But, in 2019, APC aspirant came to do something on the road, but still abandoned it in the long run.
“Government has tried several times but has always abandoned the project at some points. We have written to the government but our efforts have always proven to be abortive as the response has always been no money, wait, wait”. He disclosed that the late military administrator of defunct South Eastern State, Brig.-Gen. Udoakaha Jacob Esuene and General Yakubu Gowon passed through the road to visit calabar. He said the road is the shortest route to Ikom and Northern Cross River but that it is no longer accessible.
The traditional ruler said the community will be willing to make any financial contribution the government may ask them to make just to ensure that the road is fixed. One of the Chiefs also lamented that the community has not had electricity since April 2006 until one of their sons recently provided them with electricity. He however said it is true the community lacks many basic amenities but that their emphasis is on roads.
Another community leader, HRH Chief Peter Eworo who is the clan head of Obhana pleaded with the government to remember them and attend to their pressing needs. On his part, Chief Solomon Irik said Ofumbongha is the home that provides leaders in the state. He said, “The first water project in the community has also been abandoned. We support the government but the government does not support us”.
They further directed TNN to the first two water projects in the community which were abandoned over 20 years ago as well as a bridge leading to Ebonyi state that was abandoned in 1992.
Efforts were made to reach local government Chairman of Obubra, the Commissioner of Works, Member representing Obubra/Etung at the House of Representatives but they did not respond to calls at the time this report was filed.