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Eight Months After Benue Church Collapse, Governments Yet To Redeem Pledges

| January 7, 2013 More

The collapse of the St. Roberts Catholic Mission, Adamgbe in Vandeikya local government area of Benue state in April, 2012 seems to be a big blessing for the residents of the community if the promises by both the state and federal governments to provide electricity, build a befitting new church for the worshippers and as well tar the road leading to the village are anything to go by.

Adamgbe church, by the circumstances surrounding its collapse during the last Easter vigil where 22 worshippers including nursing mothers and children were killed, attracted the sympathy of philanthropists and non-governmental organisations in the country and in diaspora who donated generously to the families of the victims.

During the visit of the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to donate items including food and roofing sheets, on behalf of the federal government, the agency promised to, as a matter of urgency, build a befitting church for the worshippers to replace the collapsed one.

This was just as the Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswam also visited the community and promised on behalf of the state government to provide electricity, water, as well as construct the road leading to the village which is presently impassable.

However, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY’s visit to the community revealed that eight months after the church collapsed and killed scores of persons, the worshippers are still worshipping in a hovel and under the trees, even as residents of the area are still living in darkness. There is still the absence of electricity and the road which the government promised to reconstruct is yet to receive any attention. The only new development is that the state had completed the drilling of a borehole through which water is being supplied to the people of the community.

The LEADERSHIP SUNDAY investigation also showed that the families of the victims were yet to receive the N10 million donated by the Bauchi state governor, Ibrahim Yuguda, upon which the Benue state government supported with N10 million, while the United Bank for Africa (UBA) offered the sum of N1 million to alleviate the pains of those families that were affected.

The rural electrification and road construction projects, according to commissioner for rural development and cooperatives, Dr. Jacob Omenka, are being delayed because the “state government is in the process to approve budget for the projects.”

Investigations further showed that Vandeikya, the headquarters of Vandeikya local government area is still suffering epileptic power supply or near total darkness over the failure of the state government to extend electricity from Ihugh or Adikpo towns to the local government.

Presently, the electricity that the headquarters benefits, once in a blue moon, was tapped from Obudu, Cross River state but the supply is always interrupted due to reported cases of communal clash between the Tiv community of Benue and Udam in Cross River state.

At the moment, the promises by both state and federal governments to urgently build a new church for the Adamgbe community, provide electricity and construct the road, to a large extent, seem to be mere political statements rather than genuine concern to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the community.

When Governor Gabriel Suswam visited the community in April 2012, he insisted that government was not joking with its pronouncements to provide the basic necessities of life for the people of the area.

He had said, “the church council had invited me to a thanksgiving and launching for building of a befitting church but I was never for once free from my busy official schedules to attend till this unfortunate incident occurred. And that is why I had earlier sent my deputy, Lawani to visit you because when the incident happened I was out of the country for an official engagement, but I insisted to be here myself, and so this community would be provided water, electricity and even the road, I will direct the ministry in charge of that to commence work on it immediately.”

Suswam stated this when he led the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to donate relief materials to the families of the victims of the church collapse.

The traditional ruler in Vandeikya, the Ter Kunav Chief Dyako Atser and an elder in the area, Chief Ugba Uyeh commended the state government for its kind gesture and appealed that the rural projects be given accelerated approval in order to reduce the suffering of the people.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, The parish Priest in charge of St. Roberts Catholic Mission, Adamgbe, Rev. Fr. Cosmos Jooli described the development as the usual approach of the Nigerian government to emergency issues and disclosed that only a borehole has so far been drilled by the Benue state government.

He appealed that a new church should be built and electricity provided to fulfill the promises and restore the confidence of the people in all government activities.

“What you see here today is not actually a new church that was promised to be built by government but the ugly incident happened during the rains and the Bishop directed that we should erect a small building to be worshipping in instead of having our mass under the trees.

“The materials NEMA brought were not meant to construct a befitting church because they brought that kind of few bundles of ordinary roofing sheets, not long span, and a few planks of wood. The materials cannot be used to build a befitting church of modern standard but we have used part of the materials to roof the small building the church council has temporally constructed.

If anybody says the federal government is building us a church, we are yet to see it,” said the Parish priest.

Category: Bauchi State News

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