Emmanuel Ugwu writes on how a rain storm wreaked havoc on Amapu Ntigha, a sleepy community in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State
With the rainy season already past its peak with the attendant ferocious winds the people of Amapu Ntigha in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State were taken aback by a rain storm that visited the community recently. It came in the night of November 22, 2016 and by morning time the extent of havoc the rain storm left in its wake was enormous. The daily market, Orie Amapu, which was the fulcrum of the local economy, was destroyed along with 10 houses, five churches and lots of economic trees. Not only that, the community was plunged into darkness as over a dozen electric poles along the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway were brought down by the wind. The shattered poles carried the high tension cables that supply electricity to agrarian community. The natural disaster indeed dealt a devastating blow to the economy of the community as almost 90 per cent of the stalls at the daily marker were flattened by the wind while goods estimated at millions of naira were equally destroyed. Many families were rendered homeless in this harsh economic situation.
The traditional ruler of Amapu Ntigha, Eze Benson Asonye, Apu II, was astonished by the disaster. The 85-year-old monarch told THISDAY that he had never witnessed any rain storm with such disastrous consequence all his life. “It is the first of its kind,” he said, adding, “We thought it was an earthquake.” The royal father said that though Amapu Ntigha had in years past witnessed natural disasters associated with rainfall it was not in the magnitude that could cripple the local economy and render people homeless. He said that despite the level of destruction his people still have every reason to be thankful as no life was lost. The transition council chairman of Isiala Ngwa North, Chief Ginger Onwusibe said that apart from the 10 houses destroyed many other buildings were partially destroyed while fences were knocked off in some compounds. He said that his people were astounded by the level of destruction witnessed after the rainstorm, which effectively wrecked the local economy.
With the devastating blow dealt their economy by the rain storm the people of Amapu Ntigha were already despondent by the time Senator Theodore Orji visited them on a fact finding. But on seeing their senator, the crowd of people that came to welcome him became excited. The octogenarian monarch broke into a dance and was immediately joined by some of the members of his cabinet. “Senator T.A. Orji is a compassionate politician. He believes in equity,” Eze Asonye said while welcoming the Abia Central Senator. Orji holds the chieftaincy title of Ebekuo Dike (a man of valour that intervenes to save his people when called for help) and he demonstrated the meaning of this particular title when he heard the distress call from Amapu Ntigha. The traditional ruler expressed gratitude to the Abia Central senator for coming to identify with his constituents who are crying over their losses, adding that Orji has over and over again demonstrated that he is a compassionate leader. Senator Orji was already set to fly back to Abuja when the transition chairman of Isiala Ngwa North, Onwusibe called him on phone and informed him of the disaster wreaked by rain storm at Amapu Ntigha. The former Abia governor had to immediately cancel his flight in order to visit his distressed constituents. His visit was both to sympathise with the people and see for himself the extent of damage done by the rain storm. Senator said that he was saddened by the amount of havoc wreaked on the community by the rain storm and the attendant pains and sufferings it has caused his constituents.
The Abia Central Senator noted that a lot of families depended on the commercial activities at the local market to make their living hence the urgent need to come to the rescue of the people affected by the natural disaster. He observed that the extent of damage done to the market meant that it would take quite some time to rebuild it. But he said that palliative measures must be put in place urgently to enable the people have an alternative means of making their living. To this end, he donated N1 million to enable the people clear the rubbles of the destroyed market and in the interim possibly conduct their commercial activities in the open space pending the reconstruction of the market. Orji assured the people that he would immediately notify the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the rescue of his suffering constituents. While sympathising with the people affected by the disaster, Orji said that there was reason for them to be grateful to the Almighty God as no life was lost. After he was taken round the scene of destruction at the market adding that despite the amount of destruction wreaked by the rain storm the people should be grateful to God that no life was lost. The Abia Central Senator also visited St. Patrick Anglican Church, one of churches destroyed by the rain storm.
Benedict Onyedinma, who is among the traders depending on commercial activities at Orie Amapu market, was despondent. He told THISDAY that he lost his shop and that of his wife as both of them were making their livings in the market before the devastating rain storm hit the community. “There is no business for me and my wife now. We are helpless now,” he lamented. Onyedinma said that it was heart wrenching as the Christmas season is already around the corner and the prospect of commercial activities is bleak for him and other traders affected by the disaster. He said that he was scared of Christmas and New Year celebrations as well as payment of school fees since he could no longer make money to live up to his financial responsibilities. The father of four said that there was need for urgent assistance to the traders to enable them start their business activities even in makeshift structures.
Right now the people of Amapu Ntigha are desperate to rebuild their lives and their local economy. Mr. Livinus Ogbuokiri, a permanent secretary in the office of the Secretary to the Abia State Government, said that he was hopeful that NEMA would heed the call and come to the aid of the community. But while waiting for NEMA, he said that the Abia State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) should come to Amapu Ntigha and help restore light to the community before Christmas.