By Charles Okogene
In 2015, at the height of that year’s electioneering campaign, yours sincerely brokered a meeting between Adonte Professionals and His Excellency, Sen. (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa to show solidarity towards his ambition to become the first Anioma son to govern Delta State. At the time, these Adonteans from different professions were concerned primarily with how to help him in the realization of that ambition.
The meeting, which was initially billed for his then campaign office along Government House Road, Asaba, was later shifted to his private residence also in Asaba on his request and on the excuse that he was fasting and that the delegates were too dear to him to be hosted in his less spacious office.
Pronto! The more than 30 delegates that included but not limited to Mr. Umeadi Onyebetor, his schoolmate at the famous Edo College, Benin, Mr. Austin Ebodili, the late Mr. Alex Onochie, Prof. Ben-Collins Okonta, Mr. Anthony Okigbuzor, Pastors Austine Okocha and Ndu Solomon. Okocha and Solomon were the spokesperson and ‘prayer warriors’ of the day respectively.
At the jaw, jaw on that blessed Tuesday, which lasted for an hour plus, the visitors told Okowa, that they had come to ask him what he wanted them to do for him as that year’s general election was just two weeks ahead.
A visibly surprised Okowa, astonished by the fact that in that time and age, the Adonteans did not come to ask him to grease their palms with ‘fifthy’ lucre, which was the ‘tradition’ and still remains today in Nigeria. Usually, people come for their personal interest under the guise of delivering votes for the contestant but in this case, the reverse was the case. Their case was akin to that of a one time American president who admonished the Yankees not to ask for what America can do for them, but what they can do for America!
And in response to their demand, Okowa enjoined them to, not only vote massively for him, but to vote all People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidates standing election that year because according to him, if he wins as governor and the party fails to command the majority in the state house of assembly or fail to represent the good people of Delta North Constituency at the Senate or at the federal house of representatives, it will be difficult for him to spread prosperity, like a farmer spreads manure on his crops, which was his campaign slogan then.
True to his command, Adontens did his wish, voted massively for him and all the candidates for the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the senate. It was a hundred per cent victory for the PDP and they were respectively returned to political power.
However, six years after that feat, which they repeated in 2019, it is not certain that the rusty, sleepy, agrarian town with fertile land, tourist attractions and able bodied farmers that can feed the whole of Aniocha South Local Government Area, has gained anything in terms of infrastructure development. The town is still archaic, rusty as it was in the days of Brig. Samuel Ogbemudia of Midwestern Region, if not worse. It is still as old and neglected as it was when kings Obiejego, Ebodili and Nwalikor sat on the sacred throne of their forefathers. Then, though, there was no government development, peace reigned supreme unlike now that the government that is blind, deaf and dumb to the cries of the town folks for development is in charge. The people are also crying out over rogue government officials’ led illegal land acquisition that is rife in the town, a practice that was alien in those good old days.
Today, Adonte is one of the least developed towns in Delta State. It lacks the basic amenities that make life worth living.
For a start, Okowa has turned deaf ears to this reporter’s ‘wailing’ on social media, Facebook, to be precise, for access road to be extended to this long-suffering town. A road no doubt, will seriously address the daily challenge that faces farmers whose produce from their farm waste away because of lack of good road to transport them to adjoining towns and communities. Unknown to many, Adonte is even a gate way because of its strategic location. These roads in question include the one from Ogwashi-Uku through the Ughelli/Asaba Expressway. This is a two kilometer road from Abbah Unor right from the point Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) left it off. Another is from Azungu/Ogwashi-Uku direct to Adonte. This is a nine kilometres road and yet, Okowa who ironically goes by the sobriquet of a ‘Road Master’, has refused to tar the roads for reasons he has equally refused to make known to the town’s folks except for the underground rumour from his political associates who claim that Adonte has no political value, yet the town has been voting for PDP since 1999.
The only thing near infrastructure the town has attracted from Okowa’s administration is a six classrooms block constructed by the state’s Ministry of Education, which the state constituency representative for the area, Aniocha South Local Government Area, Hon. Austin Chikezie, is also laying claim to as his Constituency Project. But the crux of the matter is that months after the completion of the building, which lacks facilities like chairs/desks, borehole for water supply and toilet, it is yet to be inaugurated.
The village’s only primary health centre built in the 1970s by the military is already grounded. At best, it can best be described as ‘a mere consulting room.’ not different from the state of health facilities nationwide when the military took over years ago. The health centre has only one auxiliary nurse, no resident or visiting doctor to give care to those in need of healthcare. Not even an NYSC doctor. The nearest hospital to the villagers is the General Hospitals at Isheagu and Ogwashi-Uku which is a distance of nine and eight kilometres respectively.
The water reservoir started in the military days of Governor George Inieh estimated to serve the whole Nsukwa area, is still at the foundation level that work stopped many years ago at the site in Okenu Quarters. This is the reality despite Okowa’s mouthed supply of portable water to every nook and cranny of the state. Land grabbers have also encroached on the community’s land donated for the project. Petty thieves have long carted away iron materials bought for the building of the reservoir while the generality of the town folks depend on the two streams in the town, Iyi Nneoyi and Iyi Akashe, for their daily water needs.
In short, Adontens are living in the Stone Age in this age of technological advancement. The big, bold question then is: what will Okowa be remembered for by Adontean, as he turns the sharp bend to begin the final two years of his eight years term?
Well, probably Adontens were too trusting and so failed to extract a promise from him, on the day of that meeting, as to what he will do for the town when he gets to government house Asaba.
Time, as they say, will surely tell!