Enugu: Ejim’s Midas Touch In NKanu West

 Ikechukwu Nwobodo 

For the past three years now, I have not returned to my community, Amodu Okowo Awkunanaw in Nkanu West LGA, especially during festive periods such as Easter, Christmas and New Year. 

   My decision to stay away with my immediate family was borne out of the continous nefarious activities of unknown gunmen and other criminals, coupled with lack of basic infrastructural development in the communities across the council area.

   In short, before my decision to stop coming home, I and my wife had a terrible experience and encounter with daredevil armed robbers along Amodu-Amaechi Awkunanaw link road during 2020 Christmas celebration on our way to Enugu metropolis around 2pm.   

   The recidivists dispossessed us of all our belongings including phones, monies and other valuables and threatened to kill us if we try to resist. It took us years to recover from the psychological trauma of that ugly experience which was the first of its kind to us as couple.

   Afterwards, I kept reading in the media especially social media the continous activities of these criminals and unknown gunmen in Nkanu West LGA axis. 

   Surprisely, since last year and early this year, I have not heard or read such in the media about, the nefarious activities of the criminals across the council area, especially the non-state actors that were always enforcing illegal sit-at-home on Mondays. 

  Upon inquiries, I was reliably informed that the present Chairman of my council area, Nkanu West, Hon. Uchenna Ejim has done much and still doing well in the areas of security, infrastructural project, human empowerments and others at the grassroots level to alleviate the suffering of the people in synergy with the Enugu State Government, Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah and the people of the council area.

   These encouraged and emboldened me to return  home with my family again this year for Christmas/ New Year celebrations. Since our return, I have taken time to move across the nooks and crannies of Nkanu West LGA, interact with people and see things on ground. What I have seen and experienced had doused my fears and apprehension about people’s comfort and safety in our council area. 

    One of my greatest findings about the Council Chairman’s giant strides is the total reorganization and repositioning of security architecture of the council area in tandem with the international best practices and protection of lives and properties of the people. This is in line with the saying that nothing can be achieved in an atmosphere of insecurity. 

  It is not hyperbolic to say that the present security architecture put in place in Nkanu West  LGA, by Hon. Uche Ejim-led administration is unprecedented, topnotch and unique. It is because such has never happened  anywhere in the state.

     A visit at the Agbani Divisional Police Station,  where Hon. Uche Ejim’s administration constructed and equipped a two-storey concrete-built Surveillance Centre and Security Tower for aerial surveillance operations at the entrance of the station with 24 hours solar powered energy says a lot about the premium his government placed on the lives and properties of Nkanu West indigenes, residents and visitors as well.

   Inside the Surveillance Centre, which is being manned by security expert in the person, Mr. Okenwa Cyprian Chukwuebuka, are two constumized drones with newly acquired transmitter that can fly 7km above sea level and 10 km circumference,  large monitor and other sophisticated security gadgets that are used for 24 hours surveillance activities across the 44 communities in the council area, where CCTV  cameras alongside solar lights have been installed in majority of them and still ongoing in the rest.

   According to Okenwa, “from here we constantly monitor activities using the installed and solar powered CCTV cameras across the communities, which we have landmarked with codes and locations for the easy deployment of the drones for constant security surveillance across the council area.”

    Also at Agbani Divisional Police, the Council Chairman has completed the construction of the Station’s collapsed perimeter fence which has secured the place. Also constructed to provide convenience for the Police personnel there is modern toilet system that was non- existent before. The Police building is wearing a new look.

  Sincerely, Hon. Ejim’s security innovation in Nkanu West LGA is the first of its kind in Enugu state if not across local government areas in Nigeria.         

   Along the Amodu-Amaechi Awkunanaw road that links Enugu metropolis, where I and my wife had terrible experience in the hands of criminals in the 2020, which later became a hotbed for killings and attacks by unknown gunmen, is a well-built, properly equipped and continously maintained Military security house and a security tower constructed by the Chairman of Nkanu West LGA, Hon. Uche Ejim. The building houses the joint security personnel that are always on duty there for 24 hours. 

    It was discovered that there are 20 equipped and motivated Nieghbourhood/ Forest Guard personnel each across the 14 wards in the council area that are always on duty. Apart from these,  each five of them from the 14 wards do a 24- hour patrol shift in collaboration with other security personnel across the length and breadth of the council area  armed with sophisticated arms and communication gadgets. 

  Anyone from Nkanu West LGA, who knows Obinagu Uwani, Akpugo and its environs knows the dilapidated state of roads there that was not helped by topography of the community that made their roads erosion-prone, too sandy and swampy. During both rainy and dry seasons, roads there are impassable. 

    But succour and relief had come the way of the people of the community and its environs as the Council Chairman is speedily constructing the 3.7km asphalt road in the community. Already completed are 7.4km concrete double drainage system and 11 adjoining culverts in the double drain alongside solar powered streetlights. Presently, work is at the final stage with compacting ongoing to pave way for asphalting. This was after sands were removed and replaced with clay soil and hardcores to enhance ongoing compacting by the construction company handling the project. 

   Also, ongoing in Obinagu Uwani community is the total rehabilitation of the Community Primary School.  Already replaced at the school were all shutters, windows and doors, solar powered lighting system and white maker boards in all the classrooms. 

     Before now, the people of Ndiagu Umuokwuo in Akegbe Ugwu community were cut off from the rest  of the people of the council area. This is because the only motorable road that led to the community was cut off by deep gully erosion and river. The people needed a link bridge that was never provided for them either by government or individuals from time immemorial. 

   This very important link bridge, which has been a source of worry to the people of the community and even visitors to the community, has been started and completed, amidst several daunting challenges by Hon. Ejim’s administration and will soon be put to use.

   Meanwhile, apart from the ongoing extension of rural electrification project to Ameke, Ogrishi, Obodo-Edeh, Azu-Egu, Uno Ofia in Obinagu Uwani Akpugo, Hon. Ejim’s administration has replaced bad electric poles at Amuzu village and repaired the spoilt electricity transformer in Orji village, all in Obinagu Uwani Akpugo. 

   Findings revealed that in each of the 14 wards in the Nkanu West LGA, Hon. Ejim’s government has constructed at least one strategic culvert to control flooding and other life-impacting  projects across the 44 communities in the council area. 

   In the area of health which they say is wealth, Hon. Ejim on assumption of office demonstrated that he truly understood the importance of primary healthcare service, especially in the rural areas by embarking on comprehensive renovation, equipping, staffing of the Umuatugbuoma Health Centre, Akegbe Ugwu, just two weeks after the operationalization of the Health Centre, there were four childbirths at the centre. The healthcentre, which has been fully operational, has provided urgent and immediate medical assistance and support to the people of the community. 

  The same feat was replicated by the council Chairman at Ndiagu Obuno Healthcentre Akpugo where people are now trooping in and out on a daily basis for medical attention. 

   At the once fire-gutted and abandoned Orjiagu Health Centre, Agbani, Hon. Ejim’s administration has comprehensively completed the total rehabilitation and modernizing of the centre with the state-of-the-art hospital equipment, staff, water, solar power light after clearing the backlog of debt they owed EEDC. The centre is in effective use amidst appreciations,  commendations and applauses by the people.  Also at the Agbani Health Centre, the perimeter fence there, which was destroyed by rain, has since been reconstructed by the local government Chairman.

   Educationally, apart from rehabilitating and equipping of some collapsed primary schools which I have earlier mentioned, Hon. Ejim’s administration organized six weeks intensive free long vacation lesson at Boys Secondary School, Ozalla and later awarded scholarship to the six best students that emerged from the exercise.

   Also awarded scholarship to were six best students that emerged during the six weeks free primary school holiday lesson sponsored by his government at St. John Primary School, Agbani and to another six best students that emerged at another free holiday lesson at Boys Secondary School, Akpasha.

    Not resting on his oars, Hon. Ejim has procured and distributed many literature books and novels to primary school pupils in the council area and awarded scholarship to Miss Somtochukwu Ekwochi from Umueze for emerging the overall best student in 2022 WAEC examination in Nigeria.

  Also not left out in Hon. Ejim’s scholarship galore, which has become a huge source of encouragement and motivation to the beneficiaries and great reliefs to their families, were  the six best students that emerged from the six weeks free holiday lesson that took place at Technical College, Akpugo.

   In order to rescue,  safeguard and protect the Enugu State Government government built Fire Service Station at Ozalla community that has come under the attack of vandals, Hon. Ejim’s administration has started fencing, electrifying and securing the place for effective use and to avoid its total vandalisation. 

    In Nkanu West local government headquarters in Agbani, Ejim administration has installed solar lights and CCTV cameras, and the same time constructed Mini VIP modern car park for the council area’s top and senior leaders and personnel. 

  He has also renovated and equipped the Nkanu West Legislative Chamber and offices of principal officers with modern furniture, air conditioning system and rechargeable fans. He is constructing internationally standard security post alongside modern toilet system to replace the pit toilet system that was there before he assumed office. 

    When it became obvious that criminals, especially kidnappers and armed robbers, were  taking advantage of the overgrown grasses and thick bushes at the centre and along major roads in the council area to strike and molest people, the Ejim administration urgently and consistently cleared the grasses from Agbani, Umueze, Obe, Ozalla to 4-corner especially at the peak of rainy season. Also evacuated and desilted by the Council Chairman were the heaps of refuse and drainages at Ozalla,  four Corner axis and Eke Agbani, Law School, Agbani and opposite Flex Restaurant, Agbani.

   On the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government under Ejim’s watch as Council Chairman, investigations revealed that it is more than cordial and symbiotic,  but not without strict application and observation of separation of power, checks and balances as required by the law. It was disclosed that apart from carrying everybody, especially the legislators and workers along in whatever he does, his administration is not owing any of them salary and allowances as the case may be. In short, each of the 14 councillors had been allocated with not less than three projects to execute in their wards for the benefit of their people at the grassroots.

   Known for his philanthropy and caring for the people, especially the needy and the less privileged, Ejim had during his celebration of 2023 World Disability Day (WDD) with people living with disabilities in his council area distributed wheelchairs, clutches, walking sticks, bags of rice and others to them.  

   One clear thing and verifiable fact is that Hon. Uche Ejim’s administration has his footprints in all spheres of human endeavours and sectors of the economy of Nkanu West LGA. This has endeared him to the people of the council area, who have continued to testify about his impeccable character, goodness and leadership qualities.Truly, testimonies about his administration’s remarkable performance abound in the council area and beyond. 

   He has graded many  roads to make them accessible during Christmas and New Year celebrations. Is it evacuation of accumulated and abandoned heap of refuse at Nkwo Akpugo market that posed health risk? Is it donation of 50 bags of cement in support of drainage construction in Akiyi village, Ndiagu Uwani, Akpugo? Is it Installation of solar powered streetlights in Umueze ward? Is it the ongoing construction of 10, 000 litres water boreholes at the remote village of Aguorie Amodu Okowo, where residents and indigenes trek for over 30 km daily to access drinking water. Is it the ongoing site preparation for the construction of six rooms and hall all in suite to move Nkanu West Development Area from Agbani to Amuri? 

    They are numerous achievements of Ejim that cannot be mentioned here for want of space, but can be easily verified on ground and through the people at the grassroots, who happen to be  the greatest beneficiaries.   

   One surprising thing about him is that despite all these numerous people oriented-projects by his administration in Nkanu West LGA, Ejim hardly blows his trumpet or engage in needless publicity stunts. He believes in his works speaking for him and beneficiaries’ testimonies  about his administration’s  performance. 

   It is not in doubt that Ejim’s grassroots experience as a former councillor and ex-aide of the former Chairman of Nkanu West LGA coupled with his unique personality have contributed immensely to his outstanding and sterling performance as the current Chairman of Nkanu West LGA. 

.Nwobodo  writes from Amodu Awkunanaw in Nkanu West LGA, Enugu State

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