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Ibusa and Okpanam: Story of capital territories in deep neglect

Ibusa and Okpanam are two of the six communities that make up Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State with the other four being Akwukwu-Igbo (Headquarters), Atuma, Illah and Ebu. The story of the condition of these communities tells nothing but woes as the Local Government Area in short thrives in despondency of a sort. Here the attitudes of the people towards governmental speaks of despair because of the assumption that the people derives almost nothing in return from the government even though claims conspicuously abound in official papers on how developments are added to the communities on daily basis. These claims glamorously flaunted at all levels of the government are absurdly incongruous to realities on ground.

In 1991, shortly after the creation of Delta State with Asaba named as its capital, Ibusa and Okpanam were named as parts of the capital territory that will enjoy developmental projects because of their propinquity to Asaba, this was aimed at avoiding future congestion of the capital city among several reasons but 20 years afterwards, conditions of Ibusa and Okpanam have worsened off with no seeming agenda to better life in the communities.

Anioma Essence (Vol. 1, No 6 2010 edition) puts it this way:

“No doubt, the changing face of Asaba is a welcome development even as we look forward to more developments because the emerging face of Asaba is a confirmation that indeed Asaba Amaka (Asaba is beautiful)

However, one question on the lips of people is when will Okpanam and Ibusa own transformation by virtue of the fact that they are also part of the capital territory? This question begs for answer from the government because the effect of urban spiral in Asaba has led to population explosion in these communities without requisite amenities and infrastructures to improve their standard of living”.

Asaba as the capital of Delta State has come with socio-economic evolution for the community and people with countless fortunes for Aniomaland as a whole but the neglect the various past and present governments of the state has visited on other nearby communities to the capital city is of dolefulness. It is hard to explain why these governments have the gawky knack for limiting developments to Asaba. We question this lumbering attitude which is inimical to Okpanam and Ibusa especially because when seeming developments visit more hardship on other people, it becomes difficult to differentiate between such developments and hardships.

Although, it is a welcome development to see Asaba transform from a Local Government headquarters before 1991 to a state capital in 1991 with adequate amenities and infrastructures now somehow in place, it is a sad story altogether for Ibusa and Okpanam, a duo of nearby towns infested with the populations of people who want to live in the towns to work in Asaba because of high cost of accommodation procurement in the state capital. What this portends for Ibusa and Okpanam is disgustingly terrifying for indigenes and inhabitants as a whole. The morality behind the deliberate neglect of these two important Anioma communities is questionable and those the governments concerned can supply adequate answers to this ugly development.

Today, over population of Ibusa has given birth to several ugly implications for the town. The over-usage of the natural provisions of the town is one problem, that over-population has gradually increased crime and violence so that inhabitants can no longer sleep with both eyes firmly shut is another story entirely. The story of Okpanam as it concerns crime is similar to that of Ibusa. It was in Okpanam that the mother of ex-bank chief, Sabastine Adigwe was located by the police. Countless youths now roam the quarters of Ibusa and Okpanam in idleness and as we are aware, idle minds are the Devil’s workshops, reason why crime is increasing in the communities.

In the whole of Ibusa, there is no single government’s housing unit or even a ministry to give indigenes employment is lacking. Good roads, water and constant electricity cannot be provided to the people just as Infrastructural projects are lacking. Vista of opportunities for professionals, investors and entrepreneurs begins and ends in Asaba and never extended to other Anioma communities that exist only by name. Something needs to be done fast about this. Interestingly, government officials showcase, reconstructions of roads, completion of healthcare centers, provisions of motor-cycles and other insignificant “achievements” that does not add anything meaningful to the lives of a community.
If nothing is done immediately, I fear that the Asaba International Airport when completed will worsen the already bad situations of these towns. We have seen this with lands abundantly taken from Ibusa and Okpanam to form parts of the airport and named Asaba much to the detriments of Ibusa and Okpanam communites. We also know that in the end, a lot of persons from the outside will choose to live in Okpanam and Ibusa and work at the airport and if infrastructural amenities are not put in place in these two communities, population explosion leading to increase in crime will be recorded.

Other Anioma towns must not be made to look like extension-slums of Asaba. If developments are eluding capital territories like Ibusa and Okpanam, we wonder just how far-way communities like Ubulubu, Ukwuoba, Ukala, Ezi, Ugbodu, Adonta, Umute and Mbiri will look in terms of development.

By Emeka Esogbue 


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