By Biyi Akinnodi
The people of Sabomi, the traditional headquarters of Ijaw-Apoi in the Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, have called on the state government to partner with all relevant organisations in the country to bring true development to the ancient town.
The call was made when a Non Governmental Organisation, GlobalHELP Trust Foundation (gloHELP), a sub-implementing partner of the Sustainable Citizen Participation Project (SCPP) funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), through Afrihealth Optonet Association paid the Regent of Kalasuwe of Apoi land, Princess Adesola Oladiran-Ebiseni, an advocacy visit at the palace in Sabomi.
Community Hope reports that Apoi is an ancient African settlement with clear signs of civilisation which consists of nine clans of Kiribo, Sabomi, Oboro, Igbobini, Inikorogha, Ojuala, Igbekebo and Ipoke, spreading contiguously from the Apoi Creek in Bayelsa State through Delta State, Okomu in Edo State and the Ese Odo Local Government of Ondo State. The largest concentration of the Apoi is in Ondo State, the seat of the ancient throne of its paramount ruler – the Kalasuwe, which in Ijaw-Apoi means “God among humans.”
It is a first class traditional institution in Ondo State. Oborowei, the strongest of the Ijaw deities is in Igbobini, in Apoiland. Contacts between Apoi and the Europeans particularly the Portuguese dated back to the 15th century. Next to Badagry and Lagos, Christianity took root in Apoiland in the 19th century. The Igbobini Archdiocese of the Methodist Church covers Ondo, Delta and Edo States. Sir Lord Luggard visited Oba Jubo, the Kalasuwe in the year of Nigerian amalgamation in 1914. Igbekebo had a provincial court in 1915.
The Regent, Princess Oladiran-Ebiseni commended the NGO for associating with the community, saying the move is a welcome development that will open doors of developmental opportunities to the area.
“The meeting is very important because we have been able to identify our major challenges. I want to appeal to the NGO that since they started, the community has a great hope in them that they are going to deliver. Personally, I know the quality of the leader of the group; they are straight forward people. The committee has been set up, I pray they succeed.
“I want to appeal to the government to support the NGO because they have come to identify with the people here; they know what they want. They cannot do it alone; they do not have the fund. So the government and NDDC should support the programme because Apoi is one of their mandate areas and it will be for the betterment of our people”.
She added that the Apoiland people are more united and supportive and urged them to support the programme in order to bring more developmental projects to the community, calling for their prayers.
A community leader, Prince Olagoke Surulere, who disclosed that the town is faced with a lot of developmental challenges thanked the NGO for the timely intervention. “We are faced with roads problem; all our major roads are in bad condition, no good drainage system in the inter-town roads making lives unbearable during raining season for our people.
“We don’t have functional health centre. The one the community is using now was a school converted in 1963 and it is not well equipped. Also, a market stall and the community have land already allocated for it, so we will be glad if the NGO in partnership with government organs can assist in improving the well being of the citizens”.
A religious leader in the community, Primate Allen Oluwatoyin, said all these challenges have direct effect on the growth of Sabomi and the people living in the area. He urged government at all levels to put in machineries that will aid the development of the community.
According to Primate Oluwatoyin, apart from the mentioned problems, the waterways leading to Sabomi are blocked. This affects both sea transportation and fishing which is their major occupation. “We need to pray to God for guidance and assistance; Sabomi inhabitants should see these challenges as their own responsibility directly and play a key role in improving and developing the community.
“The government should see the people of Sabomi as part of them, so as to benefit from democracy. We are very grateful to the NGO for choosing the community, I hope government, individuals and groups can partner them to improve the status of the community”.
Also a community youth leader, Mr. Olusegun Tewe, while speaking further on the major challenges of the area which is road, said the Irele-Sabomi- Igbotu road was awarded by NDDC in 2005 and shortly after it was awarded and contractors mobilised to site, the road was abandoned and since then it has been difficult to access the cities.
“We want the NGO to help us find out why the road was abandoned. Our major problem is the poor road network, so we are appealing to the state government to help us find lasting solution to the problem and also provide empowerment to the youths to reduce unemployment”.
“We want to thank the government for its support but we are using this medium to ask for more, especially in the area of women empowerment; if women in the community are empowered it will affect everybody positively. We are ready to support the NGO to develop the area”, the Iyaloja of Sabomi, Chief (Mrs.) Omolade Mekanjuwa said.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of gloHELP, Mrs. Uche Daodu said the outfit is one of the nine sub-implementing partners that take the project to the grassroots with the aim of promoting concept of sustainable citizen participation in local governance, decision making, development and democratic processes in the nine Niger Delta states.
She urged government to provide enabling environment for philanthropists and groups to assist in the development of remote areas because government alone cannot do it.