My last ordeal on Niger State roads was sometimes last year. During that journey, my whole body and luggage got covered in dust. I guess even the trees and grasses by the road side hardly get a feel of sunlight for photosynthesis due to the dust coating their leaves. The whole journey was so suffocating that I thought I was going to die.
It is now the season of rains. The grasses have blossomed, looking deeply green and lush. The pot-holes have widened, some as big as shallow graves. The mostly un-tarred road from Lambata to Agaie is muddy with some areas inaccessible. At some point through the journey, we had to divert into villages by the road sides. Even the villagers decided to deny us entry until we pay some fees just like you do in toll gates. Rain had fallen the night before and some trailers are stuck in the mud. Some have lost stability when entering pot-holes filled with water. Sadly, I watched one trailer filled with scrap metals lying on the ground like a slaughtered cow. Days before, two trailers filled with charcoal had also upended. Three weeks back, while I was traveling back for Sallah, a trailer load of beans had also capsized.
Recently, the Federal Government said it will refund N489b to states as funds spent on federal projects in their areas. While Lagos state will smile back home with a whooping N114.6b, states like Zamfara will go with N60b, yet, Niger State is busy occupying the last position with a mere N300 million. This is the sad reality about the past and present leaders of the state. It’s like they all connived to deprive Niger State electorates better infrastructures, especially good roads.
Without doubts, Niger State is a state with so much potential: From hydro power, to the vast agricultural land and to its very hard working people. Crops of economic importance are planted in large quantities all over the state. Rice, groundnuts, sesame seeds, beniseed, beans, shear butter, et cetera litter the state. And yet, the state government doesn’t care to place much importance on providing networks of good roads all over the state. The other day, villagers around Kutueoku, Salk and Tungan Mallam refused paying revenue because the government that collect those revenues refused to fix their collapsed bridge which caused them to miss two market days.
Recently, the Federal Government commissioned the Baro inland port in Agaie Local Government Area of the state. This has also resulted in the award of contract for the construction of Lambatta-Agaie-Bida road. With Baro-Kacha-Agaie road is near completion. All this is to facilitate movement of goods and services when the inland port becomes operational. And yet, some past leaders of the state have the effrontery to tell Mr. President to go and rest even after bringing such developments that they couldn’t bring to their door steps.
Unless the Niger State government wants incidents of capsized cargos, it should better as a matter of urgency confront the issue of death-trap roads littering the state head on. With better roads all over the state, I see Niger State as the future Agricultural hub of the nation and the Lagos of the North.
Yahaya Idris, Abuja
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