On October 18, 2019, while receiving a delegation from the Austrian Embassy, the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, said his administration was committed to improving rural electrification.
Perhaps in fulfilment of that promise, the state’s Community and Social Development Agency (CSDA) soon announced that they have completed 687 World Bank-financed micro-projects which touched on education, health, rural electrification, environment, water provision, and rural roads. The agency claimed that these projects were completed in 157 communities in 2019.
However, Olorunda-Ogunsola, a community of about 147 villages in the Ona-Ara Local Government was bypassed in the provisions of these projects.
Oluranti Ogunsola, 60, the head of the community told UDEME that the community has never had public electricity since it was created over 70 years ago. The community also faces significant challenges in the supply of potable water, good roads among other public amenities.
Fasilatu Moromoke, the women leader in the community said the absence of these amenities has led to a mass exodus of the youths.
Abandoned electric facilities
Although electric poles, transformers and power cables have been installed in the communities, they have been abandoned for decades and are now in ruins. For instance, many of the electric poles are broken, and the cables lay on the ground and a large chunk of them have been stolen. Residents said they contributed money to buy the cables many of which have now been stolen because of the failure of the government to connect the community to the national grid.
“We do not have electricity. Those electrical polls are a community effort. Those selling drinks and pure water have to go to town in Amuloko to buy ice blocks. Most of them do not use ice blocks because of the cost of going to town. The electricity problem has really affected businesses in this area”, Mr. Ogunsola continued.
The Olorunda-Ogunsola community does not have access to primary healthcare although thousands of people reside in the community.
“We have no hospital in the 147 villages in this community. Not a single hospital or health care centre is here. We have thousands of people in these villages. In Olorunda headquarters alone, we can boast of at least 500 people. When people are sick beyond our capacity, we have to take them to town to get treated,” Mr Ogunsola said
“The nearest hospital is very far from here. People have died in the process. Earlier this year, four women died during child labour due to a lack of proper care. If there was a qualified person to attend to them, they might have survived. Local midwives deliver women of their children here. This life is not meaningful for us. When youths have nothing to keep them busy, they will steal,” he added.
In 2019, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources budgeted the provision of a solar-powered borehole to be stationed “at the Baale’s palace” in Olorunda village. The project was budgeted at the sum of N4.5 million and was to be supervised by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA).
Residents said though a borehole was dug in front of the head of the community’s house, it was immediately abandoned before completion.
In 2018, an audit report was released by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. The report noted that the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Agency (OORBDA) mismanaged N1.33 billion in 2016.
OORBDA declined requests asking it to comment.
Local government pleads for patience
When contacted, Sanusi Adesina, the caretaker chairman of the Ona Ara local government pleaded for patience. He noted that the Olorunda-Ogunsola community is not alone in the travails of underdevelopment.
He said, “we did not abandon the Olorunda-Ogunsola environment. It is not only that community that is underdeveloped in the Ona Ara local government, the local government comprises both urban and rural areas. In the Olorunda-Ogunsola community, we put a motorised borehole there at the market. Recently, we graded their road from Olorunda to Fada. As time goes on, the Rural Road Mobilization will construct network roads in the community soon.”
I fund projects with my personal money – lawmaker
Residents of the Olorunda-Ogunsola community feel neglected. They claim that no Zonal Intervention Project has been constructed in their community for years and the only borehole allocated to them has been abandoned by OORBDA.
Reacting to this allegation, Akin Alabi the representative of the Egbeda/Ona Ara federal constituency said many of the projects he instituted in the constituency were funded from his personal funds.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited personal resources to provide for the entire constituency,” he said.
“There are over 100 villages in that (Olorunda-Ogunsola) community. Now imagine the entire Ona Ara. Now imagine adding the entire Egbeda local government to it. There is zero chance that the ZIP can touch up to 1 per cent of the constituency. I really think it is an unnecessary and unfair burden and pressure to expect a legislator to do all these things,” he said.
He said the Governor of the state, Seyi Makinde, should be called upon to help the community out.
Oyo Government reacts
Taiwo Adisa, the spokesperson to Seyi Makinde, the Governor of Oyo State, told UDEME the government has done some projects such as boreholes and healthcare facilities in the community and blamed residents for allowing some of those projects to become damaged.
“Boreholes cannot just get damaged like that except it was not well done. What will happen to a borehole is that they will spoil the pumping machine inside and if the community is irresponsible enough, they will not be able to gather money to repair it.
“Is it the government that will maintain it for them? A community is supposed to have its own community efforts. In Igbo land, they do it. The government will try but the government cannot do everything. Because of the capacity of the government, we can only be selective. The community should not lose its essence of being a community,” Mr Adisa said.
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