By Dickson Okafor
Roads in Nzerem, a community in Ehime-Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, are in a terrible state. Year in, year out, the people have been crying that something substantial should be done for their area, to alleviate their plight. But nothing so far has been done about their sorry situation. Now, they are unhappy that people they elected to represent them at various levels of government have abandoned their area.
Leaders of Nzerem, which prides itself as the food basket of the state, are unhappy that the community had been isolated for long from other communities because the main road leading into the community had long been cut off by erosion.
The community leaders told Daily Sun that, among villages whose roads were in a pitiable state were Umuaguma, Umuosu/Alike, Isieke and Umueleawo, all in Umuoma Nzerem. They recalled that as, a result of the unbearable hardship the people were subjected to, recently, youths from the area staged a protest to express their displeasure over the worsening state of the roads, especially during rainy season.
The leader of the youths, Mr. Christian Nwokoro, expressed sadness that the member representing Ehime-Mbano in the House of Assembly had not helped their situation. He accused the area’s representatives of being insensitive to its plight and expressed regret that they that were supposed to be closer to the people had not come to Nzerem to see how far things had deteriorate. He claimed that the last time any representative visited the area was during the electioneering. He recalled how the community gave the lawmakers votes in block. So, the residents are angry that, after the elections, nobody has visited the area. He described the politicians as being far from the people at the grassroots.
Nwokoro disclosed that the youths wondered had been wondering why their lawmakers especially the House of Assembly member whom they estimated was closest to them, suddenly forgot to seek improved amenities for people from Nzerem through legislation, recalling how they turned their back on his predecessor and candidate of the opposing party in the last election.
They accused the lawmaker of being insensitive to their plight and expressed regret that several attempts to draw his attention to the condition of roads in the area had been fruitless.
Nwokoro said that not even one of the numerous campaign promises made to the people of Nzerem by the lawmaker had been fulfilled almost three years into the current administration.
Speaking in the same vein, Chief Hipolite Esiagu, former Chairman, Umuoma Nzerem Progressive Union, Lagos branch, decried the untold hardship the people had been facing due to the condition of roads in Nzerem. He regretted that peasant farmers and other locals had been finding it increasingly difficult to access other communities and even move their produce to nearby markets. He disclosed that most children could no longer access their schools because erosion had cut off some of the villages from the schools. He said that the situation was even a threat to the Federal Government’s drive to improve the welfare of farmers and uplift the lives of many.
“The Federal Government’s quest to develop the agriculture sector won’t yield the desired result if farmers in Nzerem which is the food basket of the state is unable to bring out their farm produce and deliver them to where they are most needed just because the roads leading to the community are in a terrible state,” he said.
He called on the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, to come to aid of the community. He blamed the Caretaker Chairman of Ehime-Mbano LGA and other elected representative of the people for failing to provide basic amenities to the area since the third-tier government was closest to the people.
In his reaction, Chief Linus Onyenanu, patron of UPU, Lagos branch, highlighted the importance that Nzerem attached to agriculture, which he maintained was the mainstay of the people. He said that every serious government ought to place high premium on agriculture because of its strategic position in the development and improvement of the lives of rural dwellers.
According to him, Nzerem had enormous agricultural potential and time had come for government to optimise the potential in order to enhance food sufficiency. He said that it was in that regard that improvement of roads in the community had become of paramount importance.
He said: “Agriculture provides gainful employment opportunities to both the educated and uneducated. That is why the agricultural potential in rural communities like Ezerem needs to be to be tapped. In these hard times, agriculture needs to be developed. One way to encourage the development and sustenance of agriculture in communities is through the provision of roads so that the farmers can evacuate their produce. Even where farmers are unable to take their produce to the urban communities, traders from there can assess the communities and buy the produce off the farmers.
“That is why we are crying for roads in our community,” Onyenanu said. “During the rainy season, the main road leading into our area is completely impassable. Any vehicle that attempts to pass through the facility is trapped. This situation is even affecting the spiritual lives of our people. It is equally frustrating the lives of priests posted to our community as they cannot get to their parishes because of the state of the roads.”