Men of goodwill pass by in pity and regrets, politicians blaming their opponents, while the common man in Oraifite is yet to understand why Anambra state government is keeping quiet. But the truth is that the worst environmental disaster, which the people of Oraifite have never witnessed, is gradually coming.
We now live in a society where “mind your business” is the order of the day. Political individualism has conquered the foremost communal way of life of the Oraifite people. Selfishness conquering selfless help while lies conquers the crystal truth. Nobody cares if the house of his brother is on fire, trees are cut down for buildings, farmlands are being cleared for church activities and now I welcome you to the age of environmental disaster in my beautiful home, Oraifite.
Oraifite is a beautiful community in Ekwusigo LGA, in Anambra state. Many prominent leaders and business tycoon in Anambra state come from Oraifite. Oraifite is the home of Sir Emeka Offor of Chrome Oil, Sir Emeka Okwuosa, the CEO of OilServ limited, Justice Obiorah Nwazota, the former Chief Justice of Anambra State and host of other elites in Oraifite. You can simply call my town “OraiLondon” as our people likes to identify it.
The sudden increase in erosion and landslide, which have resulted in the loss of lives and properties every year surprises the good people of my blessed town. This is because before now, the land of Oraifite was not known for such environmental disaster. From January 2018 to November 2019, 4 people have lost their lives, while 10 houses (people’s native home) have been destroyed by the devastating effects of gully erosion and landslides in the community. Various efforts by those affected to reach the governor of Anambra state have been discouraged by the community leaders who feel that they will not have any monetary gain if the government become interested in such matters. The Ekwusigo Local Government Transition Committee whose sole duty is to liaise and bridge the communication gap between the people of Oraifite and the government, is only interested in little community project that will fetch them millions of Naira every month. The member representing Ekwusigo at the Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Onyebuchi Offor is a member of the opposition party, PDP of the current administration, APGA in Anambra state. With this, his voice and motions are not taken serious. The member representing Ekwusigo, Nnewi North and Nnewi South LGA at the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Chris Azubuogu, is not interested in such issues because he is not from Oraifite and he wants to become the next governor (in his dreams).
The erosion disaster in Oraifite have gone beyond the control of the Anambra state government. The Ifite Oraifite gully erosion site, which is active, was estimated to be 200 ft depth. This is erosion site is similar to the Nanka gully erosion site. Eight buildings have been destroyed by landslides occurring in the gully. By the year 2025, more than 30 buildings must have been affected by the erosion and landslides. People living close to the erosion site are living in fear of being buried alive by the landslide. One of the residents told me that they are making plans to relocate to his uncle’s house in Irefi Oraifite by the end of the year. A woman and her 16 years old daughter coming back from farm nearly lost their lives on the 4th day of September, 2019. The landslide occurring at the gully have become unpredictable to the villagers, fear and worry have been their only food.
Why are we quiet about this deadly environmental disaster? How about the tears and wailing of those who lost their loved ones and properties?
On the 24th day of March, 2017, I was appointed the Councillor representing Oraifite Ward 2 in Ekwusigo LGA, Anambra State. My first step of service was environmental and community development assessment. I designed a questionnaire for interviews, visited community leaders and elders in Oraifite Ward 2. Many community issues came to my notice but when I went to the Ifite Oraifite gully erosion site, I nearly shed tears. I took video interviews, pictures of the erosion site and wrote letters to the Chairman of Ekwusigo LGA, Hon. Ikenna Ofodeme, wrote a “Save Our Souls” (SOS) letter to the member representing Ekwusigo, Nnewi North and South at the Federal House of Representative Hon. Chris Azubuogu and finally to Hon. Andy Uba, the then senator representing Anambra South at the Red Chambers. My letters were never replied, I posted it on their facebook walls, but they ignored it. I went to the office of the Ekwusigo LGA Chairman, I asked him if he received my letters and pictures of the erosion site in my ward. He laughed at me and told me that such project can never get approval that I should look for something that will cost like 200,000 Naira. I left with anger, returned home and visited the newly elected President General of Ifite Oraifite Progressive Union. I told him my aim and the need for him to write a letter to the appropriate bodies as mine failed. He looked me into the eyes and told me that he didn’t have erosion control in his agenda. That the only project he is interested was the building of Ifite Oraifte Town Hall, which he needed people who will donate money for the project he embarked. I walked away, like Jesus Christ of the Christians, I went to the mountains to meditate.
I went for a field assessment of the Ifite Oraifite gully erosion, to understand how this erosion got to that extent. In my field result was something filled with pains and horror. During the construction of Nkwo-to-Nkwo road, the white contractor, stupid as he was, channeled flood waters from St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Nnewi down to Ndami-Ani Ichi in Ifite-Oraifite. This flood waters now increased the flood flowing through the erosion site. The contractor that constructed the Ichi-Nkwo Edo Oraifite road did the same, thereby increasing the flood by 1000%. Nothing can survive along this flood plain during heavy rain. Ecological funds given to Hon. Chris Azubuogu for such disasters and emergency were embezzled by Hon. Chris Azubuogu.
Till the date, it’s like an abomination to discuss the deadly erosion sites in Oraifite in the presence of Oraifite leaders and I ask why?. I am asking Hon. Onyebuchi Offor representing Ekwusigo L.G.A at the Anambra State House of Assembly, have you forgotten “umu” Ifite-Oraifite?
Something needs to be done, we can’t fold our arms and watch our brothers bleed. We must fight for our people through any means possible. Am more concern of our people who cannot afford to buy land and build a new house somewhere else. We have farmers who can’t afford to relocate due to poverty, we have those whose only property in this life is the land being taken away from them by natural forces. Am using this medium to reach out to our brothers, sisters and elites who still have love and pity for their fellow humans to please come back home. Let’s do something meaningful, something encouraging that will bring a positive change and put pressure on the government to do something. I end this article with this quote of mine:
“GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DON’T FEAR GOD, THEY DON’T FEAR CHARMS AND GUNS. THE ONLY THING THEY FEAR IS THE UNITY OF EDUCATED PEOPLE”.