Ikhuse, Oah, Ivbioddohen, Okeigho Ivbieleke, Avbioghola, Ikpeyan, Iloje and some other communities all belong to the Okpuje/Ilueha sub-clan in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State. They speak the same sub-dialect of the Owan language and are all located on the same road. Like many other Nigeria communities, they are daily confronted by poor water supply, poor electricity supply, inadequate healthcare facilities, poor road network, among other challenges.
Among the problems facing the communities, however, none bothers them as the condition of the road linking them to Uzebba, the capital of the Okpuje/Ilueha clan. The road, which is about six-kilometres in distance, starting from Ikhuse and terminating at Uzebba, is what affects them more than any other thing. The reasons are not far-fetched. Inhabitants of these communities are largely farmers; hence, they rely on the road to transport their farm produce to Uzebba. The road is, however, in a terrible condition, making life and living difficult for the people of the area.
According Mr John Stephen, one of the residents: “This road is very important to our people because they cannot survive without it; they need the road to evacuate their farm produce and interrelate with their neigbouring communities. It is now a political road and everything about it is now politics. We are not asking for much. It is the only road that connects these places to Uzebba. We are aware government has constructed so many roads in Benin, Iyamho, Esan and some other places. They should please remember that there are people living here as well.”
History of the road
Findings showed that the road was first awarded for construction and completed during the administration of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion (1999-2003). Some members of the Okpuje Patriots (OP), a social organisation consisting of prominent sons and daughters of the area scattered all over the world, however, said that the constructed road was “washed away” about six months after. They blamed the former state government and local government chairman for what befell the road.
After receiving raw deals from politicians in about three times, the people said they had decided not to participate in the forthcoming election and watch as they do not want to be fooled again. They were particularly angry at the flag off of the road on June 6, 2016, by the Edo State government.
According to Mr Stephen, “Suddenly, when information got to them in Benin that our people have resolved on ‘no road, no vote,’ they came up with the flagging-off of the road. There is now fresh agitation among our people saying that they cannot continue to use our people to get votes and we now asked the government to tell us the cost of the project, its duration and the contractor that is handling it. I’m speaking the truth. I’m neither APC nor PDP. My concern here is the plight of my people who suffer a great deal because of the hardship imposed upon them by successive Edo State government.”