(Opinion) Edo State Government, What Is It With Ewohimi? By Ernest Omoarelojie

* Source : :esanland.org

The above title may not entirely represent the issue(s) in contention in Ewohimi, the third most populated town in Edo Central Senatorial zone. If a better title were possible, it would have been, ‘What Went Wrong Between Ewohimi and Governor Obaseki.’ That won’t be necessary as it would personalize the issues as the governor himself appears to have done. Whatever the case is, courtesy still demands the use of a milder title. So, it remains as it is-Edo State Government, What Is It With Ewohimi?

Don’t ask me why the piece is so titled. It will be better if the question is about why the governor chose to abandon Ewohimi, a hugely agrarian town in not just Esan South East council area but also the entire Esan land.

At the expiration of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole administration, Ewohimi had sundry reasons to be grateful that the Iyamho borne labour leader turned politician was governor of the state. That is not without reason anyway. As a worthy son in-law of the town, he ensured that he resolved some of the town’s major challenges. Among others, he did wonders with the road connecting the town with Igueben which, before his intervention, had no space for even bicycles to transit from Agadaga, through Idumu-Agbor, Oghu to Eguare, the heart of the town where its main market is domiciled.

Upon the completion of the road, locals dubbed it ‘…the Computer Road’ more for its quality. It provided real relief for
farmers from the affected areas of the town, including those from Igueben after decades of being cut off from the town centre. At least, they were able to freely move their products to the market without any hassle.

Oshiomhole also made sure that his administration constructed a general hospital in the town. His gesture became very significant given that in the first instance the people attempted to provide one for themselves having failed to attract same from previous administrations. Secondly, their attempt to provide a hospital for themselves did not turn out successful even after decades until he came and built a brand new one which came, complete with two industrial generators, a functional borehole, doctors and nurses’ quarters.

While one of the generators was dedicated solely to surgical operations, the other was set aside for general use. The hospital had 13 doctors on call at the time the incumbent governor assumed office. But at the moment, all except one are no longer there.

A visit to the hospital, as this reporter did recently, proved to be an eye opener. Daily, every visitor is greeted with a sorry sight. That is, in addition to noticing that it has since gone into a coma, so much that its survival is dependent on an urgent, life-saving surgery.

In the first instance, no one is ever present at the Out Patient Department reception hall as this reporter found out. Thus, all calls for attention ended up reverberating back as the empty hall howled the echo in hollow response. Until one keeps calling more loudly while moving further down its labyrinth, no one gets a response.

It was the case with this particular visit. At least, from somewhere deep within, a voice, which turned out to be that of a responded from a khaki-wearing woman, who looked more like a hired cleaning hand, clutching files, responded.

A short chat later, the reporter was taken through the only functional ward, where only one patient was on admission in the entire facility, onward the doctor’s office. The ward had no net in any of its windows, a reflection of what obtains with the innumerable windows in all other rooms in the entire hospital. It was a sight of defined desolation and neglect. That is, putting it mildly.

A little enquiry here and there also revealed more tales of desolation. Though the generators are still functional but only just. Hospital staff confirmed that one of them broke down not long ago but has been fixed. Their operation is now at moments of emergency but only when relations of affected patients agree to pay for diesel.

The borehole has broken down completely. However, despite repeated requisition requests to the state government, no fund has been released for its repair. Worse still, the hospital’s monthly subventions have dried up.

In an earlier visit, a medical staff explained that the hospital no longer required the specialist medical equipment procured by the Oshiomhole administration. They opined that they should be taken to health facilities in Benin City where they would be put to better use. That is, according to their explanation, the equipment would waste away as they are never in use. In any case, locals hardly patronise the facility. That the explanation then which sadly remains the same now. Albeit, there was no word, this time, as to whether the equipment are still in place. What is very clearly visible is that the hospital is in dire straits just as it is in dire needs of rehabilitation having been abandoned for far too long.

The Oshiomhole administration also made Ewohimi the location of one of the three Model Secondary Schools-one each for Edo Central, North and South Senatorial zones. While the one for the North reportedly metamorphosed into Edo University, Uzairue, the South had theirs completed.

The only one with troubles is the one allocated to Edo Central, located in Ewohimi. The contract for it-Pilgrim Baptist Grammar School-was allegedly awarded to the same firm that built the New Central Hospital, Benin City. However, the contract was halted when a part of the Central Hospital collapsed, killing the contracting firm’s Project Manager.

With the unfortunate death of the foreign project manager, the fate of the school project was sealed. It was never built even as the hospital was later completed. It didn’t matter that the school had no remote connection with or to the reasons for hospital’s unfortunate collapse or the death arising therefrom. In any case, the firm fully refunded the N2b contract sum, which the Obaseki administration has since acknowledged.

Ironically, even though the town has a number of other people-oriented projects waiting for attention, including its electricity scheme, which fell into bad waters some years back, its three secondary schools without teachers or teaching aids, its moribund Iyagun/Ewohimi Water project that requires new engines and reticulation, not a dime was deployed to any.

Since then, the governor has not deemed Ewohimi fit enough to have part of the funds deployed to other important projects, including the ravenous gully erosion site at Idumu-Oboh that is threatening to excise a chunk of the town, the rehabilitation of the dreadful Idumu-Oboh/Uzebu and Ogbe/Idumuguokha roads, all of which the governor himself, now in his second term, promised to sort out in his first term.

It is time for what has to be said to be so said. Don’t ask me why I choose to be the one to say it. It is my right to ‘cry my own cry:’ I mean, if those the governor has affected positively in the last six years have a right to shout, Eureka,’ I have as much right to cry blue murder for his complete abandonment of my own town.

To that extent, I should point out here that Ewohimi’s problem with the governor is that he sees the town as the support base of the most troubling pain in his neck. His anger over the matter took a more concrete form at the height of his standoff with his predecessor, when he declared unambiguously that the town is his enemy for allegedly taking side with the former governor, a reason for which he reportedly vowed to make the town and its people suffer abandonment. Is it not playing out?

 * Courtesy: 2n–Network.com

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