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Okpella white elephant projects

by Business News Report

The community Okpella, is the 3rd largest clan in Etsako situated in the northern border between Bendel and Kwara. The clan is endowed with abundant natural resources.
The clan has a population estimated by the 1963 census figure at 100,000. The settlements in the clan is rural. The community’s abundant resources are left untapped as a result of lack of power supply, pipe borne-water and communication equipment.
The few firms that found their way into this community are those that can afford power supply of their own and can manage of tankers to supply them with water.

In fact, it is only the Bendel Cement Company which enjoys power supply from NEPA but not the community.
The oddity of the situation is reflected in the fact that neighbouring towns, Fugar, Agenebod, Ayiogwuri, Jattu, Auchi etc, all are supplied with electricity from the national grid but not Okpella. A visitor to Okpella would observe that the community does not have power supply, although electric poles and wires were put in place in the community for the past 13 years, (1975) when the Odje Commission of enquiry into Bendel State owned parastatals recommended that the state government approach NEPA to supply the community with power. The state government did award the contract to REB. The project was just about getting off the ground when it was grounded. Ever since then pleas, upon pleas to subsequent state governments to reactivate the programme have fallen on deaf ears. Determined to resuscitate the abandoned programme, Okpella people imposed levy on its adult members in 1986.
On December 13, 1986, the community launched an appeal fund. The proceeds from the launching was N150,000 which was paid into the state coffers in order to convince the state government to the concern of the abandoned project.
According to the community leaders, the cost of wiring the community by REB would be in the neighbourhood of N200,000 while that of NEPA would be N500,000. Certainly, they contend the community cannot foot the whole bill hence they have to bear part of the cost through the Bendel State Government.
In the words of one of the leaders, Okpella is a rejected part of Bendel State. In 1970 he said, the community contributed heavily to the then Ogbemudia government’s Bendel State Development Project without the community benefitting anything from the government.
Recently, the present state government launched an appeal fund, the community played its part but so far nothing has come to it.
Another member of the community told The Reporter “many small firms have come to Okpella to exploit the resources here. They were scared off because there is no power supply,” he declared, “We are losing of no power supply.”
The community student’s union told this writer that most members of the community now look at their leaders with disdain because they feel their money had been embezzled somewhere along the line.
A prominent member of the community also confirmed the students fear that the leadership is being looked at with the evil eye.
The light problem is not the only issue at stake, the post office is yet another contract for the construction of a sub post office was awarded in 1982, the post office went little beyond the foundation level and was abandoned by the contractor, a then party stalwart.
Painfully, the Okpella abandoned post office is among those gazetted as having been commissioned. Most members of the Okpella community are getting disillusioned and skeptical about anything government. The Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure has not had any impact on the people. Some have not been heard of it. Like one community member said, we pay our taxes regularly, pay levies yet nothing comes to us from government.
The Okpella electricity project deserves attention from those in authorities most especially now the government emphasis is on rural development.

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