Chief Godwin Apere, Paramount Ruler of Kaani
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Kaani community, one of the ancient communities in old Ogoni Division now in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State is presently far from development following non visible connection of electricity and other amenities that makes life worth living.
Our correspondent who visited the area could report that the community did not only complain of the electricity challenge but expressed agony as the non existence of electrical pole has denied the large community expected development.
Some of the community people that spoke with The AUTHORITY during the visit at the weekend revealed that about 40 years ago the then government tried to install electricity in the area and mounted some poles which have since been abandoned with no cable wire connected to it.
A traditional ruler of the community disclosed that several letters have been written and provisions made by Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to bring light (electricity) to the community but after a period of time everything remains as if not deliberated on.
The pitiable condition of the people, no good health facility, schools, market etc has really set back the community compared to other neighbouring communities in the area. Kaani is few kilometre from the popular Bori town, yet looks more of outdated and neglected. The community people blamed their plight on non presence of their sons or daughters in government. The challenge has really set back the economic development of the area.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent in his palace, His Royal Highness, Mene Godwin Apere, Menebua Kaani (paramount ruler) lamented that the non existence of electricity in his community has denied them needed development thereby making the community looks abandoned.
In his words Chief Apere said “Like you know electricity is the source of power and it brings development. If there is no light there will be no development. And light will also help the security of the community, evil cannot thrive in light but darkness; business affected, security of the community affected, the youth influence from the urban areas to the community is also affected.
“Light is our most challenge in terms of development, we have the man power, we have the population, we have the size, we have the closeness to Bori, yet in all of these, development is far away from us. You can imagine how a community will grow to this level without electricity light. The poles that were laid between 1970s and 1980s by Director of Rural Infrastructure and after they left no other person took the matter again.
“Government of River state, nobody has spoken about the no existence of power supply here (Kaani). Crime also increases in a community where there is no light because if the boys are engaged in one way or the other those issues of crime will reduce. My community is agrarian community, they are agricultural people, hard working yet the number of criminals have reduced drastically but because of lack of necessary amenities, like light the community is not making much progress. There are professionals from this community, we have Professors, medical doctors, and engineers etc but of course the political space has not allowed us benefit these good amenities of life.
“That pole was mounted by Director of Rural Infrastructure in the first tenure of Ibrahim Babangida as Head of State and that were many years ago. Once the government was overthrown the project was abandoned and the Director of Rural Infrastructure was dissolved. But to show that people were willingly to have light nobody has tampered with the poles after so many years it was mounted.
“The closest agencies this days is the NDDC because they can intervene quickly but it is unfortunate that even after meeting the commission, they have been here severally, we submitted survey to NDDC and even of recent they said they included our light on their budget but you know NDDC is, is a more or else can swallow you without you knowing. For now NDDC is not doing serious work because of the forensic audit going on, so nobody to talk to”.
The paramount ruler of Kaani however, called on the Governor Nyesom Wike to also extend his led government ongoing developmental projects to his community, especially to provide them with electricity.
“But I expect the state government should also know how the situation is because they come around during the election. Is sad! This community is part and parcel of Nigeria, is part of Rivers State, is Part of Khana Local Government. We are calling on the government to consider our plight and come to our aid as it affects installation of light in our community. We also need health intervention.
“The governor has been trying in his developmental projects in the state; he should also consider our community for these projects. Abandoned health centres should be revisited and constructed for sae the rate of mother and child mortality in the community”.
Mrs Dum Blessing, a civil servant, and a native of Kaani by marriage, said since she got married to the community 25 years ago she has not seen light except power supplied by generator set.
Mrs Dum said “Since I got married to this place (Kaani) about 25 years in this community I have not seen the break light of electricity neither water, we have been in darkness for years and there is no headway for that. So if the government can come to the aid of this community it will be good for us.
“Due to lack of electricity here (Kaani) business is not going on, we cannot do any perishable business, and I was running a cool room in this place because of the challenges of no electricity my business died off. So, we have alot of challenges because of no light, no water, there places we don’t have good road and there is no government facilities in this community. The secondary school we have here was built by the community in 1030s, even the health centre the government promised to build for us has since not been completed, is a government that is nearest to Bori town but we are in darkness”.
Mrs Elizabeth Francis, a farmer told The AUTHORITY that “To my own understanding I believe maybe God has not approved that we should have light yet. We lack everything in this community and especially the light which brings development. If electricity enters our community, business will start booming and development will come but no light for us to enjoy the community.
“We don’t have portable water to drink, no good health centre, we have been struggling to build secondary school by ourselves but government have not tried to help us in anyway. We are paying tax yet the government cannot develop our community, but government cannot remember us especially in health facility. This season children are suffering, they have small pox, measles, and different types of sickness because of the bad water they are drinking. Two weeks ago a beautiful young girl died here because as a result of lack of good health centre”.
She called on the government to intervene in their plight saying “If government will be able to supply us good water, connect electricity light to us, give our children good education and provide us with good health centre, we will be happy as development will enter our community”.
To 27 years old electrician, Isaac Barirugbene and Peterside Nwuiyerazor, 32 years old, before they were born in the community the rusted poles were already mounted with no cable wire. They wonder how as youth they can continue to survive in the community without electricity light.
Isaac Barirugbene said “there is no work since there is no light. The only people that calls us for job are those that uses generator set, but most people that don’t have generator cannot call us wire their houses because they do not have means of power supply.
“We believe that if there is light, we will have more work to do. We have many electricians in this community but they all complain of no work to do. So if the government can provide work for us I believe we will all be productive and busy”.