For the people of Agu-Umabor community in Nsukka local government area of Enugu, life is incredibly becoming more difficult.
Tucked about thirty five kilometres away from the city centre and the headquarters of the local government council, Nsukka, Agu-Umabor is one of the autonomous communities in Eha-Alumona, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.
WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that during the Nigeria Civil war, it played host to displaced persons from most of the local government areas in Enugu North Senatorial zone. The IDPs enjoyed the hospitality of the community throughout the period the war lasted.
However, Agu-Umabor remains the only community in Eha-Alumona town that is yet to be connected to the national grid. It is a community in the dark. Most of the residents of the community have never seen an electric bulb.
A trip to the community
A trip to Agu Umabor is like a journey to nowhere. A stranger would likely have the impression that he was going to an evil forest. No access road, no electricity, factors combining to make the journey dreadful.
Ordinarily, a journey to Agu Umabor from Premier Junction, Eha-Alumona(a popular junction in the area) is not supposed to last for more than 20 minutes.
However, with the terrible nature of the road, the trip takes more than two hours. It is hardly accessed with vehicles.
The only means of transportation has remained commercial motorcycle riders, who have so much monopolized the journey owing to the bad nature of the road. The poor rural dwellers are forced to cough out between N2000 and N2500 each time they plan to visit their relatives outside the area or go to market.
This is considering that once you get to the community, you cannot go beyond it as there is hardly any other road connecting it to other communities.
Although the community is very close to Enugu capital city, there is no connecting road.
Consequently, the residents must mount motorbike, drive for nearly one hour in what could be explained as a ‘merry go round’, before they can board a vehicle to Enugu.
Also worrisome is the discovery that the community has never been captured in Enugu’s budget ever since the state was created. No wonder it looks like a community in another world. Little wonder the residents look forgotten, dejected and neglected.
The manner they convey dead bodies
One of the worst and most horrible scenes in Agu Umabor is the manner they convey dead bodies to places of burial. Owing to lack of roads, residents turn themselves to hearse.
For a journey of more than three hours, members of the community lifts the coffin on the waiting heads of two volunteers. Two of the volunteers would stand erect, one in the front and the other person slightly behind. The coffin is now lifted unto their heads and they will take off accompanied by wailing women.
At intervals of 30 minutes, the corpse bearers exchange with two other persons while they have some rest. Most times, stench would be oozing out from the corpse in question, which may have lasted for two or more days. This is the agony of a people with no access road, where poverty does not just stink but speaks.
The situation is the same in the area of health and educational facilities. It is quite unbelievable that a community with a population of over ten thousand residents has no single hospital.
As unbelievable as it may sound, there is no functional hospital in the community. A dying person has to be transported for over three hours, with motorbike serving as ambulance, spending about three hours before it gets to the city centre or nearby hospital.
In most cases, the patient dies even before getting to the hospital owing to the stress and rigours involved in traveling via the death-path called road. Only few hardly makes the journey alive to the poorly equipped private church hospital outside the community.
Their primary schools is like a goat barn, not different from most of the residential houses found in the area. This is as over 80 percent of the buildings in the community are mud houses. The teachers who helplessly reside outside the community, rarely come to school more than once in a week.
Residents speak to our reporter
One of the residents who spoke to our reporter under condition of anonymity explained that the community has been totally forgotten by successive administrations in the state.
” We have been totally neglected in this community. Look at the road been constructed by the state government. Just midway into the project, they abandoned it completely.
“We have no road, no water, no electricity, no hospital and no school. We have been living like sheep without shepherd.
” Every election year, they will come here, soliciting for our votes. But after the election, we will not see them again.”
Another resident of the community who gave his name Jacob Ugwu narrated his experience as painful.
According to him, ” my son died in this village four years ago because there is no hospital to take him to. He was ill and we decided to take him to Nsukka town for medical treatment because there is no health facility here. We spent up to two hours to get to the hospital at Nsukka.”
Narrating further said, ” when we eventually got to Nsukka, the doctor blamed us for coming a bit late. He was admitted in the hospital and few hours later, he died.”
Traditional appeals to the government
However, since the administration of Barr. Sullivan Chime, (2007-2015), the traditional ruler of the community, His Royal Highness, Igwe Kelvin Mamah has continued to appeal to the state government to come to their aid and give the community a facelift.
According to several appeals by the royal father, the area lacked government presence, except for three public primary schools and one public secondary school which were built through community effort.
He told the government team, which was on an assessment tour of communities in the state, that the area was threatened by gully erosion on the only narrow pathway leading to the community from the local government headquarters in Nsukka, through Umabor community.
“Our major concern is the lack of road leading to our community. I believe that with a good road, other developments will come,’’ he said.
Mamah appealed to the team to make a favourable report so that the state government could rescue the area from imminent cut-off.
He said the people of the area relied on streams for their water needs, while the promise for electricity supply to them had not been fulfilled.
Reacting to the requests, the leader of the team, Mr Donatus Uzogbado, said the team was impressed with the peaceful atmosphere in the community, especially the relationship between the Igwe and the town union.
Uzogbado, who represented Oji River in the Enugu State House of Assembly, said the area deserved government presence, being a young autonomous community.