The Eku to Effurun road and Eku to Abraka and thereafter to Agbor in Delta State is one of the worse federal roads in Nigeria. At a point, the road from Abraka to Agbor became impassable.
By Ovie Edomi
Similarlythe federal road from Eku to Abraka became impassable during the raining season that motorists began to use an old road constructed in the era of the old Bendel state. Also the Eku to Effurun road equally became a death trap owing to the state of the federal road until a good Samaritan and fellow compatriot, Austin Oghenejobo, a philanthropist, farmer and an Engineer deployed his engineering firm: Fenog Nigeria Limited, to fix a bad portion of the road which had become a ditch and a death trap to many road users especially those that were not too familiar with that section of the road.
Since Engr Austin Oghenejobo of Samagidi, Ethiope East Local Government Area of oil rich Delta did what ordinarily was the responsibility of the federal government, there has been less cases of road accidents and attack on road users on that session of the road.
This act of patriotism on the part of Engr Austin Oghenejobo stands as a further demonstration of his compassionate nature across board. To say that he has helped to save lives by preventing several accidents and attacks that would have occurred at the spot in question is stating the obvious. Engr Austin Oghenejobo’s patriotic spirit using Fenog to Savage a federal road is a demonstration of the recognition of the fragility of human lives and the sacred duty to extend a helping hand to his country and by and large the masses.
Infact, the way and manner he single handedly fix the worse section of the Eku to Effurun road inspired more hope in many of our youths and equally reminded many of us that even in the darkest times, there are kind individuals in our country who are prepared to illuminate the path to a brighter tomorrow.
Unfortunately, this same road leading from Eku to Effurun which Engineer Austin Oghenejobo got his engineering firm to repair a section that was a death trap was last week being excavated by people doing road maintenance believed to be from FERMA.
I, in company of a renowned clergyman drove through the Eku road last week and we saw different sections of the road that were cut. When we got to where the workers were, we greeted them and asked when they intended to fill the sections of the road they have removed the surface, their leader said it would be refilled the same day. Unfortunately, one week has passed nothing has been done to the surface that they excavated. The worse thing the FERMA men did, was that the failed portion of the road that Engineer Austin Oghenejobo took time to fix using first class equipment and materials not long ago was equally excavated leaving a big pot holes on the road. The question road users are asking is why excavate that session of the road that gulped several millions of naira from a fellow citizen to fix when it has not yet gone bad? Is the fresh excavation of the spot needed to be done in order to put more money in somebody’s pocket or to waste our common wealth?
The Urhobo Ethnic Nationality where the road in question is situated, produces the highest crude oil and gas in Delta state, yet all the federal roads in Urhobo land including the East West road are in very deplorable condition. Meaning that in terms of road, there are no commensurate benefits to the Urhobo nation.
Infact it is said amongst the Urhobo Ethnic Nationality that the nation’s reward for our people from our enormous contributions to the Nigeria project, has been deprivation, poverty, lack of access to good road, electricity, portable water etc. Almost every home in the entire Urhobo land spanning eight local government have their own generator and bole hole, yet the Urhobo nation’s volume of crude oil and gas productions, are far more than the quatum of oil and gas production of some states in Nigeria. In some oil producing countries both the road and other social facilities in Urhobo land will be top class yet Nigeria ranks the sixth oil producing country globally.
What really is the sin of the oil producing communities in the entire Urhobo land and accros the entire oil rich Niger Delta? It would be recalled that in 1974, some roads previously maintained by state governments were transferred to the Federal Government, this created a classification called Trunk F roads. Since then, most state governments have left the maintenance of roads regarded as federal government road to the Government at the center to maintain.
But it appears the Federal Government has deliberately abandoned most of the federal roads in Delta State and most of the South South states. Efforts by some of the state governments to repair the roads that are in very deplorable condition have been continually denied by the federal government. This development is something the administration of President Bola Tinubu must address especially since the Minister of Works, David Umahi, has enmarked different federal roads for repairs.
In Delta State for instance, the federal government and nay the Minister of Works need to be told that the Agbor-Abraka-Eku road has been abandoned. Also the Warri-Sapele-Benin road, the Illah-Ebu road and the East West road, are Federal roads that have similarly been abandoned. These are roads constructed by the federal government and they therefore should be maintained by the federal government through the federal ministry of works and the federal roads maintenance agency.
Only recently, Hadiza Bala Usman, Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Policy and Coordination, said
“Mr president insists that there needs to be first-hand participation of Nigerians in the verification of the delivery programme and projects of the government”.
If indeed President Bola Tinubu is determined to make Nigeria work for Nigerians and committed to giving Nigerians a voice as well as empower them to participate in the governance of their country, then the citizens’ Tracker that avail Nigerians across the country to track and monitor the list of priority programmes and projects of the government and their status should be put in place. Then Mr. President along with the masses would be able to see and track the progress of implementation of his priority programmes and projects
That way, even the officials of federal road maintenance agency and other contractors handling projects across the country will be up and doing For now, I sympathize with our people and other road users of federal roads in Delta State and beyond, who suffer endlessly on daily basis, but things should not be so when we have a government that has the political will to change the narrative After all as at 2018, the total length of federal government roads in Nigeria was: 36 thousand kilometers secondary routes that are made up of around 18 thousand kilometers of the total network. Some 17 thousand kilometers were trunk routes while 343 kilometers were branch roads. These are certainly not too much for the federal government to maintain through the ministry of works especially if David Umahi, the Minister of works chooses to make a difference as it is expected of him and President Bola Tinubu.
Dr. Edomi, is Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, South South International magazine as well as former Publicity Secretary, Association of Mass Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria