Mr Casmir Adamu is from Ogurugu, an Igalla-speaking community in Ogboli Development Centre of Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu State. In this interview, he says that Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has given the Igalla in the state a sense of belonging. Adamu, who is also Enugu State assistant organising secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, further discusses how the peace and infrastructural development in his community has translated into bounty agricultural harvest.
What is your relationship with Igbo-speaking communities within your area? Do they see you as Igalla from Kogi State?
We are not Igalla from Kogi. Rather, we are Igalla in Enugu State. There is harmony between us. Ogboli Development Centre is made up of Ogurugu, Ojor and Adani. Adani is not an Igalla-speaking community. But we have mutual understanding. We, the Igalla, also speak Igbo very well because in our schools, we learn Igbo as a language. We inter-marry and do many things in common. We always look at ourselves as brothers and sisters.
Are Igalla people well represented in the government of both Enugu State and Uzo-Uwani LGA?
Yes. We always appreciate His Excellency, the governor of Enugu State, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. He is someone that is always guided by the divine wisdom. He ensures that in whatever he does that everybody, irrespective of where he comes from, is represented. The Igalla, in our LGA, are not left out. Our council chairman, Hon Chukwudi Nnadozie, is the eye of the governor in our area. He knows the terrain. And coming from Adani, which is in Ogboli Development Centre, he ensures that whatever he does reflects everybody. His recent appointment gave the Igalla-speaking communities our due share. The supervisor for education is from Igga. One of the senior special assistants is from Ogurugu.
That is exactly what Gov ifeanyi Ugwuanyi does. Igalla have positions at the state level. Generally, the democratic dividends in the state get to us. We feel at home.
Tell us about the collapsed bridge that has been factored into the state budget?
January last year, the only bridge that gives us access to the outside communities at Ogurugu collapsed as a result of a heavy duty machine. It caused a lot to the community, because we are mainly agrarians. Uzo-Uwani LGA is the food basket of Enugu State. Much of the food produced in Uzo-Uwani comes from the Igalla-speaking areas. We have rice, which informed the initiative of the Ada Rice; we have cassava, yam, and other cash crops. When the bridge fell last year, it became a challenge to us because our people couldn’t evacuate their farm produce to the market. But His Excellency, out of his magnanimity, has come to our rescue. When he got the information that the bridge collapsed, he sent inspection teams on three occasions. As I am talking to you, that bridge is in the appropriation bill of this year’s budget. We hope that in no distant time, work will commence on that bridge. It was a bailey bridge, and we learnt that His Excellency wants to now do a concrete bridge for us.
Which aspect of agriculture do your people have a comparative advantage on?
Ogurugu is among the communities that produce large quantities of rice. It drives our economy. Most of us that live in the cities actively participate in farming because we have the land. I have my rice and cassava farms. When you hear about Uzo-Uwani rice and Adani rice, we form the big part in the production.
How do you curtail herdsmen’s insurgencies in your area?
Before the regime of Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, we had challenges. But with the concepts of the state Forest Guards, neighbourhood watch groups with the collaboration of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies, the excesses of the herders were curtailed. There is relative peace, and our people can go to the farm with peace of the mind.
The formation of these security arms also provided jobs for our youths. Before the formation, there were security checks in some communities, but they were not supported. Under Gov Ugwuanyi, it changed. The operatives earn stipends and they are provided with security gadgets. They are very proactive in information gathering and interventions.
Are there some interventions in Igalla communities in the area of infrastructure by the government?
Igalla areas, comprising Ogurugu, Ojor and Igga, are not left out. Before this regime, to access Igga and Ojor from Adani was very difficult because of the bad road network. Gov Ugwuanyi has provided an access road through the RAMP projects. There is a complete earthwork of road that links Adani, Ojor and Igga. It is a ring road.
From Ojor to Adani, before now, was not a straight road. There was a bridge that was inaccessible. But His Excellency intervened, and with the aid of the Fadama III project, he did a surface dressing of that road from Ojor. He was able to re-enforce the bridge that used to pose a challenge to us, making access to Ojor from Adani or Ogurugu very hard. It is now easier. If you are going to Igga, one has the option of either moving from Ogurugu through Ojor to Igga, or moving from Ogurugu directly to Igga.
What areas do you think your community could be assisted in the area of agriculture?
His Excellency has done well for us in the area of agriculture. In Ogurugu and Ojor, for instance, through the support of Fadama III, there is an intervention that assists our people in boosting rice production, which is installed in our farms at Ogurugu and Ojor. We have also benefitted from the youth and women’s projects. We are looking forward that having put all these in place, it is our hope that His Excellency will do more. He knows what is peculiar to us, and would surely do more. We need things like fertilizers, which from time to time, he provides us.
What is your message to the youths of your area to maintain peace?
Igalla is known for peace. It wouldn’t have been possible if not for His Excellency’s intervention. In the area of security, he has done so much, not just for us but the entire state. My people sleep with both eyes closed. Again, the peace in the state cascades down to every nook and cranny. A few days ago, I got the information that Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board was about to rehabilitate Community Secondary School, Ogurugu. It will encourage people to send their children to that school. So, I encourage my people to remain peaceful and supportive to the state government and their fellow human beings.
What is your relationship like with other Igalla-speaking communities of Kogi and Benue that you share boundaries with?
We share boundaries with Kogi State from my side. The other side shares boundaries with Anambra and Kogi. Before the present dispensation, you hear of oil disputes between the Igalla and Anambra. If not because we have understanding, by now you would have been hearing that there is war. We commend His Excellency because whenever there is a dispute in those areas, he uses his God-giving wisdom to find lasting peace. Today, we enjoy the peace. He also told us that whatever problems we encounter at that oil field would be legally challenged. He is following it legally. We hope that in no distant time, Enugu State would be declared an oil-producing state. When that is done, the first beneficiary will be the Igalla communities. Gov Ugwuanyi is more an Uzo-Uwani person than Udenu.
Do you often extend handshakes across other Igalla-speaking communities in other states?
There is an Anambra river, which is our boundary. We inter-marry, so we go there and relate very well with them. We have our brothers and sisters on the other side. We go there for marriages and burials and other functions. It is always fun being there.
Culled from Enugu LGA News