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Inside Ondo community where abandoned projects, neglect take sway

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Years ago,  when the federal government extended its rural electrification project to Akinfosile, a suburb of Igbotako and its environs, in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State, residents of  the community believed their  decades-old  prayers for rapid infrastructure development were being answered faster, than they had expected.

But, unknown to them,   the project was more providential, than planned! The community, founded by the Ijelu people of Ikale land, was just a beneficiary of the Afforestation Project being sited in a neighbouring  Onipetesi, a not- too-distant community from;  a case of  the community having its  palm kernel cracked  for it by some benevolent spirits.

The agrarian community, which boasts of a huge palm trees reserve, had been a  beneficiary of the  electrification project of the Ondo State Afforestation, at Onipetesi, being run by the then Ministry of Mines and Power,  headed by  late Dr.  Olusegun Agagu, who   later  became the governor of the state.

Then, as part of the  federal government’s  electrification of the project,   Agagu, also  ‘a son of the soil’, that is an indigene of the area, had  installed electricity poles and wire, through Akinfosile  to Onipetesi, then.

My mother is hale and hearty ― Taye Currency

Few months after the installation, in the community, there were shouts of joy in and around the community.  Akinfosile would eventually have access to one of the ‘wonders’ of the white men, ‘electricity’. And, for residents, the development actually called for celebrations; since they were witnessing what they still believe, till date, was the most significant landmark in the history of the community.

Oloja Olamide Ayodele, Olufara of Akinfosile-Osoro Kingdom

Interestingly, the fact that the community shares a common border with Omotosho, where  a multi-billion naira power plant, Omotosho Power Plant is situated, reinforced the people’s belief that darkness had become a thing of the past in the community. They would no longer need to resort to home-made lanterns and torchlights, to illuminate the town at nights.

But the celebration was not  to last for long! Few weeks after electricity was activated in the area, it disappeared the way it came. And, curiously, what remains of such project in the town today are some of the electricity poles and wires, that are being  daily cannibalized and vandalized, by people from outside the community.

For instance, the poles and wires that run through the community’s paramount ruler, when South West visited,  represents nothing but a relic of its glorious past. The poles are gradually coming down while it was obvious from the fallen wires that they had not seen current in the past few years.

When asked  whether  current still ran in the high tension wires, hanging dangerously, on the community’s landscapes, a resident, Pa Olusanya, was quick to respond that everybody would have been consumed by now, if there was current in the wires since they had been hanging loosely on the community for some years

“The wires had been like  that for sometime. You can see that the poles are gradually giving way because they’ve not been used for sometime now. If there is current in the  wires,  the whole community would have  died by now, afterall you can see the wires all over the floor,” he stated.

Pa Olusanya however described as absurd  that  despite its proximity to Omotosho, where one of the nation’s power plant was sited, the community had continued to grope in darkness.

“We  never believed this type of thing could happen to us here. We had thought that  there was no way we would be so close to Omotosho here and would be having power challenge. The thinking was that we would be a major beneficiary of the  gas turbine. Unfortunately, the reality today is that our dream of having electricity and a stable one, at that, is fast becoming an illusion,” Pa Olusanya added.

Olufara’s palace

“It was rather strange to us. We thought it was a minor hitch which would soon be addressed. Unfortunately, when the minister later became the governor of the state, taking over from late Adebayo Adefarati, we didn’t see any action in this regard,” argued Pa Olusanya.

The community leader, the Olufara of Akinfosile-Osooro Kingdom, Oloja Olamide Ayodele, also buttressed Pa Olusanya’s claim.

“It is rather strange that the  residents of Akinfosile are  telling you a sad tale of how they once enjoyed electricity for a few weeks.

“When the whole thing started and we were no longer seeing electricity, we thought it was a minor hitch which would soon be addressed. Unfortunately,  even when the Minister later became  governor of the state, taking over from late Adebayo Adefarati, we didn’t see any action in this regard,” the traditional ruler stated.

The traditional ruler, who was installed  as the paramount ruler of the community five years ago, stated that the community is fast becoming a huge site of abandoned projects.

According to him, besides the vandalised electricity cables and poles that presently run through the community, nothing in the community could attest to those brief and  glorious, moments in the past, when the people enjoyed electricity.

Oloja Ayodele believes Akinfosile, comprising of Lailo, Loyinmi, Ilebe and a host of other small communities, is far too important to be left in the dark.

“For instance, while it still remains a wonder that the community only enjoyed a few weeks of electricity before things went awry, one wonders how a community which shares a border with Omotosho where we have one of the nation’s  gas turbines could be left to grope in the dark,” he argued.

This, unfortunately, he stated, is beginning to have its adverse effects on the economy of the community.

For instance,  about three companies,  one of which is a plywood manufacturing company that employs over 500 of the community’s residents, are permanently on generators.

“You can imagine how much those companies would have been spending on diesel to power their generators. We believe the economy of this area would have been far more enhanced if there had been light in the area. For instance, the companies would have had the capacity to employ more people, since they would be spending less on diesel,” he stated.

The traditional ruler also lamented that the electricity cables are being gradually canibalised by unknown people at night, thus making the community’s dream of getting the light issue resolved on time,  a near impossibility.

Interestingly, it is not only in the area of power that the community is having infrastructure challenge. For instance, the police post building, started in the area, some years ago, has also been abandoned; a development, he says, has continued to have  far-reaching  security implications for the community.

Abandoned electricity poles and wires

“Look at this community, we are very close to the expressway. As you can see, we face the Benin-Ore-Ijebu Ode Expressway directly, and that makes us vulnerable. Every day they rob on the Express Way there, and we had thought having a police post here would give us some sense of security. But it has been abandoned since,” he stated.

While calling on the federal government to help secure the environment, the traditional ruler also lamented the near absence of government schools in the area.

For instance, only one primary school exists in the area to take care of its juvenile population, running into thousands.

Besides, those of  secondary school ages would have to go some distance, outside the town, to get that.

“You can imagine what a community,  such as Akinfosile, go through without a secondary school. The people have to travel quiet a distance to get secondary school education. Don’t forget this is a state that prides itself on its educational prowess, how does one, therefore, explain  a situation where a community with many residents of secondary school ages, not having a secondary school to meet such ambition?” the traditional ruler argued.

The traditional ruler, an offspring of Ijelu Family, the founder of the community,  also expressed his displeasure that the town, till now, could not boast of a clinic that could take care of the health needs of  residents, especially pregnant women.

While some  resort to self-help for delivery, other pregnant women in the community always relocate to neighbouring communities, whenever their due dates are fast approaching.

Perhaps of greatest concern to the Olufara is the fact that the community is fast becoming a site for abandoned projects.

For instance, the lock-up shops, built by General Olu Bajowa, a native of neighbouring Igbotako, in the state, is yet to be completed, many years after the first phase was completed. Unfortunately, when the South West  visited the community, only one of the shops,  out of the ones that had been completed, which goes for N1,000 per month,  was occupied, a development some people in the community believe must have been responsible for the non-completion of the remaining lock-up shops.

While corroborating the paramount ruler’s claims, Chief  Tayo Adeyelu, Oja Mayegun of Osoro Kingdom, however believes all hope is not lost. His appeal is to the  government of the day to factor the community into its developmental agenda.

“It’s not good to have all these beautiful projects, abandoned midway. You can imagine how this community would have looked like, if one or two of these projects had been completed,” he added.

The post Inside Ondo community where abandoned projects, neglect take sway appeared first on Tribune Online.

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