Recession in Abia as a result of incompetence, negligence: The case of Ohafia Local Government
I have heard a lot of people cry about recession in Nigeria. We blame the presidency for the recession but have failed to look inward and see where our unique strengths lies. We have failed to seat back to think and reason and then evaluate our economic potentials.
Let me use my hometown, Ohafia, to demonstrate what I am saying. Dr. Michael Okpara, a former Governor of the defunct east central state and premier of the then Eastern Region thought in his wisdom to position the region for the future positioned Eastern Regional Farm Settlement (EREI) in Ohafia. Agencies like Ada Palm was sustained with supplies of palm produce from EREI. EREI is a vast arable land that had been abandoned to lie fallow over the years.
EREI farm is a good example of a communal farm settlement scheme that was aimed not just to increase food production but to bring development to the rural areas. Farmers all the way from Enugu, Abakiliki, Nsukka, Obubara, Afikpo even as far as Ikom were settled in Okon Ohafia to develop farms for different cash crops ranging from rice, vegetables, palm produce, beans, yam and maize.
The government provided them with basic amenities like water,cottage hospital, electricity, processing mills, school and market.
Till today EREI is now a community known for farming in Okon Ohafia. If Abia State government can utilize part of its share of the agricultural development loan and reinvent EREI as a farm settlement with strategic focus on short life span cereals like rice, maize, beans and garden products.
EREI may not need irrigation for subsistence rice farming but a commercial farmer will aim at using some form of artificial irrigation.
I bet you that EREI, Ndia Nku and Isugu can provide enough revenue for the state that will boost its IGR.
EREI ( Eastern Region Estate Investment) was established around 1963 by the eastern region government of M I Okpara and Akunu Ibiam. The revenue derivation and investment drive of the first republic was purely and squarely agrarian and regions Follow aspects and areas of comparative advantage hence the east took to Palm, rice, cashew, rubber and such other crops that stands us in good economic and commercial stead.
Therefore after extensive research and advice by renowned international experts, EREI came to be with the present abia state as given in Okon Aku Autonomous community contributing about 90% of the land to the building of the settlement called EREI.
After the fall of the settlement in 1998 due to negligence on the part of successive governments of our area. Part of the settlement has remained object of fatal inter communal dispute between biase local government of cross river state and Okon aku Ohafia.
Okon aku community and Nde Ohafia have been left alone to fight off numerous attempts to encroaching in the most valuable lands that legitimately belong to Abia state and Nde Igbo. The government of T A Orji showed no interest at all.
On the present Government, we are watching! However, the Okon aku and indeed Nde Ohafia resolve is not a millimeter of our precious land will go to cross river state.
I will speak more on this and other ancillary issues to Nde Ohafia, Abia State and Nde Igbo. With EREI in place Nde Igbo shall cease to be land locked because EREI is just about 4km to IKUN beach which can take any size of seaport via river cross.
Article by Honourable K. Mallam, Indigene of Ohafia Local Govt. Area of Abia State, he Studied at Abia State University, Uturu. Lives in Benin City, Edo State.