For the umpteenth time, Iwoye-Ketu community leaders in Yewa North area of Ogun have called on Federal and Ogun governments to intervene in the provision of road and other infrastructure in the border town between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Specifically, they asked the government to reconstruct and tar the 17-km Imeko-Iwoye road for ease of movement, goods and farm products.
The traditional ruler, Oba Ademola Aremu, made the appeal on Tuesday while conducting newsmen and leaders round the road and parts of the 20,000-strong community.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Iwoye of about 12km to Benin Republic, has the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) community-based farming scheme, a police post in a rented apartment, a befitting office for Benin’s Gendarmes as well as customs and immigration sheds.
Others are state forest reserve, an international market and natural resources such as cotton, cassava, yam, charcoal, water melon and cucumber.
Aremu had at a meeting of the community’s development association in Lagos in July appealed to the state government to come to their aid by rehabilitating their road.
NAN also reports that the area had voted for a governorship candidate other than the Action Congress of Nigeria, now All Progressive Congress, in the 2011 polls.
He decried what he called abject neglect of the community by previous administrations in the state, saying “the neglect is dehumanising and unfortunate.’’
“The Imeko-Iwoye road has not been tarred for several decades. As an earthen road it has been destroyed by erosion thereby making it impassable.
“Driving on the dusty and crawler road is frightening and hazardous. For now few vehicles ply the road while motorcycle remains the popular means of transportation for movement of goods and people including National Youth Service members, government officials posted to the area.
“We are completely cut off from the rest of the country and Ogun State. For now, we are more accessible from Benin Republic than from Nigeria.
“On behalf of the community leaders and the people, we passionately appeal to Gov. Ibikunle Amosun and the federal government to urgently come to our aid, ” said Aremu.
Aremu, who lamented the hardships the people and security agents go through daily on the road, disclosed that two passengers on motorcycles paid at least N600 per trip from Iwoye to Imeko, headquarters of Imeko-Afon Council Area.
He urged the federal government to revisit the border communities’ development programme of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar administration to ensure that such communities were not left at the mercy of the neighbouring countries.
According to him, access roads are some of the strategies for removing obstacles to sub-regional integration and development.
He added:“The only bridge on the road was built in 1949 by a businessman from the North who came to buy cotton from the area. We are farmers and I can say proudly that we are the food basket of the state.
“We are law abiding citizens and we pledge our loyalty and support to Ogun and federal governments,’’ said Aremu, a large-scale cotton farmer.
Other problems confronting the community, Aremu said, were power supply, water and lack of a functional health facility.
“We store rain water in underground tanks to use during the dry season. Water level is low in this area and so we cannot get water from the wells. We need boreholes; the ones sunk by Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority are not working.
“Also, we have not been enjoying electricity provided by the Chief Olusegun Osoba administration in 2001 as we experience black-out for several weeks.’’
A community leader, Mr V.I. Ibitokun, advocated the setting up of a textile industry in the area with a view to harnessing the abundant raw cottons being produced by the people.
Ibitokun, a retired senior manager at the WAPCO Lafarge Cement Company, told NAN:“We produce cotton and food in commercial quantities for Nigeria.
“We should be encouraged by the government to increase our output to contribute more to the nation’s economy.
“FUNAAB students who stay in the community for several months for their practicals and other government officials working there are facing a lot of hardships because of the road.”