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SPECIAL REPORT: Asha Village : Ogun Community’s 150 Years Struggle For Public Electricity

ISRAEL ADELEKE writes on the ordeal and  agony  of the community that confronts  150 years of lack of  electricity, the ruinous effects of poor roads and the persistent absence of other infrastructural amenities.

In the heart of Asha village, a community in the Obafemi-Owode local government area of Ogun State, faced with a myriad of challenges, life flows like the river that sustains them – unpredictable, challenging, and essential. 

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, PLATFORM TIMES reporter embarked on a journey to Asha, an agrarian village with a rich history spanning over 150 years.

 The mission  was to uncover the challenges faced by residents of one of the neglected communities in Ogun state.

The journey proved to be far from easy,  the road linking Asha to Abeokuta resembled a perilous path rather than a route of connectivity. 

Determined to witness the situation firsthand, this  reporter made the courageous decision to trek from Gbokoniyi Ojere road, a settlement, a few kilometers away from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY).

The trek, under the scorching sun, took several hours to navigate the roads between Gbokoniyi Ojere and Asha community, situated several kilometers from Alagada Town.

Along this challenging path, the appalling condition of the roads became evident—potholes, cracks, uneven surfaces, and obstructions, aggravated by the lack of drainage from Olorunsogo, a community several kilometers away.

The state of these roads poses a constant threat to motorists, passengers, and all road users, increasing the likelihood of accidents and vehicular damage.

However, as this  reporter finally reached Asha, the residents, despite their hardships, welcomed him with open arms, ready to share their stories.

As the sun sets on their dilapidated roads and flickering streetlights, the people of this community share a common narrative of resilience in the face of adversity.

Beyond the weathered facades of homes lie tales of struggle, with poor road infrastructure and intermittent electricity casting shadows over daily life. 

The community, however, doesn’t merely grapple with these expected hurdles; it wrestles with a lack of clean water and the haunting absence of a nearby hospital.

As this reporter  walks through the community, the daily struggles are palpable. Children, their laughter echoing against the backdrop of hardship, play near the riverbanks, oblivious to the challenges that loom ahead. 

… Community Without Electricity For 150 Years, Still Counting 

For over a century, the village of Asha in Ogun has grappled with the absence of electricity, plunging the community into nightly darkness. Despite numerous attempts, including petitions to state and local authorities, the elusive dream of obtaining power has remained unfulfilled for the residents.

The Baale of the village, Mr. Taiwo Odebiyi, revealed that the community resorted to innovative measures to cope with the enduring blackout for 150 years.

The village head expressed the deep-rooted history of their community, spanning more than 150 years, yet lamented the glaring absence of electricity since its inception.

In his  explanation, the village head, who is 70 years old shed light on the enduring darkness. He recounted the words of his late father, who lived to 80 years, revealing that not only did he grow up devoid of electricity, but his own father, the village head’s grandfather, also never experienced the luxury of electricity.

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that Solar panels became a lifeline, allowing residents to generate electricity for their homes.

 Venturing out in the dark became a challenge met with the glow of mobile phone torches, highlighting the community’s resilience in the face of this ongoing ordeal.

Mr. Monsuru Lasisi, a long-time resident, expressed his deep lamentation, emphasizing that, despite working in Lagos State, he had never experienced electricity in Asha throughout his 42 years of life. 

His testimony underscores the stark reality of a community that has existed without the basic amenity of light for generations.

Further observation revealed that the absence of electricity not only hampers daily life but also severely impacts economic activities and access to information. 

 

… Deplorable Road Dots Neglected Community 

The agony etched on the faces of farmers and traders is palpable, echoing the untold stories of hardship brought about by the deplorable state of the roads. Welcome to a community where tears and frustration have become synonymous with daily existence.

In a candid and emotionally charged conversation with PLATFORM TIMES, the merchants affected by this calamity bared their souls, expressing their ire towards the dilapidated roads that have become a bane to their livelihoods. 

Their stories resonate as a powerful reminder of the severe consequences of governmental neglect, portraying a stark reality that extends beyond the physical deterioration of the roads.

Mr. Lasisi Kasali, a seasoned farmer in Asha Village, narrated the arduous journey of transporting his agricultural products to markets beyond the community.

 His voice echoed the collective pain of many as he detailed the exorbitant fees incurred and the heartbreaking loss of goods due to the treacherous road conditions.

“I distribute my merchandise in the rural area and occasionally to the marketplace outside our locality, but this dilapidated road is hampering my commerce,” lamented  Kasali. 

His plea to the government for road repairs is not just a cry for personal relief but a desperate call for the restoration of economic vitality to a community grappling with adversity.

Echoing Mr. Kasali’s sentiments, Mr. Edwin Ogo, a transplant from Benue State who ventured into farming at ASHA Town, shared the challenges of being stranded for hours while attempting to transport his farm products. 

The toll of paying double the normal fare due to poor road conditions adds insult to injury for these resilient individuals who continue to offer their goods at reasonable rates despite the hardships.

Mrs. Jumoke Matanmi, a provision seller, voiced the struggles of transporting her goods from the city to her home.

 Her tale of navigating exorbitant transportation expenses and the perilous conditions of the roads paints a vivid picture of resilience in the face of adversity. 

Mrs. Matanmi’s plea is not only for herself but for the safety of the community’s women and children who endure the daily ordeal of navigating the treacherous path.

“Asa Village yearns for more than just a fix to its roads; it craves a restoration of dignity and a return to a life where the simple act of transporting goods doesn’t border on the perilous,” implored Mrs. Matanmi. 

The Oba road, connecting MAPOLY to Alagada Community, stands as a symbolic artery that, if mended, could breathe life back into a community suffocating under the weight of neglect.

The absence of a hospital exacerbates their vulnerability, with health concerns looming large as they navigate their daily lives.

They spoke of the urgent need for a road that would connect them to neighboring areas, enabling easier access to essential services, transportation of agricultural produce, and an overall enhancement of their quality of life.

 Kolamatanmi Adio, a longtime resident of Asha, narrated the tragic incidents caused by the road, including the heartbreaking story of Ayo, a young boy from the community who lost his life in a road accident.

 Adio emphasized that some   accidents that occured on the road were not isolated, rendering many people disabled. 

He complained that despite the community efforts to fill the potholes, the work is repeatedly erased by rain. 

The residents told PLATFORM TIMES that they have reached out to both the state and local governments, pleading for attention, but their cries seem to fall on deaf ears.

 

… A Community Where  Clean Water Becomes Luxury 

In a stark reality of shared hardship, the community  grapples with a multitude of challenges, transcending beyond inadequate infrastructure. 

Plagued by poor roads, erratic electricity, and a glaring absence of essential amenities, this community stands at the intersection of resilience and neglect.

Apart from the poor road and electricity, the community lacks access to clean water and  hospital.

Clean water, a fundamental necessity, remains an elusive luxury for the residents of Asha village.

With no viable means to access this basic resource, they find themselves dependent on the murky waters of the river that meanders through their home.

The Residents informed this reporter that their only source of getting water was from the river as there was no feasible means to acquire water in that area.

Residents, with a stoic acceptance of their reality, highlighted the absence of potable water sources in their community. 

PLATFORM TIMES observed that  they have resorted to relying on the river which has tainted  their lifeline with uncertainty and potential health risks.

 PLATFORM TIMES’ observation  revealed that the river, once a symbol of nature’s abundance, has become their only source of hydration.

The Baale of the village, Mr. Taiwo Odebiyi, expressed the community’s collective frustration, saying,”We had complained many times to the local government chairmen, but they didn’t do anything to our community.” 

 

…Church Now Opens Bi-Monthly  For Worshipers 

In the face of crumbling roads and relentless challenges,Pastor Ayoola Kehinde, the spiritual custodian of the parish in the area, lamented that the dilapidated state of the roads has become  a  challenge for the worshipers.

Kehinde, while   sharing  the tribulations faced by congregants navigating the treacherous path to their spiritual haven, said many of his worshipers who live in far places now attend church service bi-monthly.

He said  “my members express their dissatisfaction many times because of the roads. They say the poor road damages their car, and they choose to come every 15 days because of the roads.

Many also complained that the motorcyclists charge them exorbitantly, so they have to reschedule their attendance to church.” 

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the  vehicular wear and tear coupled with exploitative transport costs have turned the pilgrimage to the sacred space into a bi-weekly act of resilience.

He however, said  “I am confident that when the road is restored the members will return.” 

 

…WHO Data  On Clean Water 

Nonetheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserted that consuming river water or contaminated water can be extremely hazardous for one’s health. 

According to them, river water may harbor harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, that can induce diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. 

The WHO estimates that microbiologically contaminated drinking water causes approximately 505 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year. 

They consequently said that it is advisable to treat river water before drinking it.

In spite of these adversities, the residents still exercised their votes in the previous gubernatorial and presidential election.

The Baale declared, “We have appealed to the government but they keep on deluding us, and we always cast our vote, especially when it is time for election they canvass to our community but when they assume the office, they neglect their promises and disregard our letter.”

Regarding the hospital, the Baale lamented, “We have attempted many times to appeal for hospital but the government disregarded us so we abandoned the hospital idea.”

He affirmed that he was aware that the plan of building a hospital by the government might not work, but the government should address the road, which is their primary problem.

He, however, implored the government to come to their assistance promptly.

 

… Local Government Chairman Reacted 

 

When PLATFORM TIMES contacted the local government chairman, Lanre Ogunsola, he stated that the local government has been working diligently.

He explained that the local government has 1602 CDAs and it is not feasible to attend to all of them simultaneously as they are executing their projects progressively.

Regarding the issue of the bad road, Ogunsola acknowledged that the road that connects MAPOLY to Tobape is in poor condition but the community should exercise patience as the state government is coming to their rescue.

About the community drinking from river water, he said “It is not viable for me to provide each community with a bore hole.”

He elucidated that this is why they came together and agreed that they will be digging a borehole in the major communities that are very close to each other.

He said “Like five villages can be using the borehole for a period of time before the government will continue to do it for each community.”

He, however, said that if they have not reached them, they should be more patient with them as they have limited resources to do all that.

Commenting on the health care, Ogunsola ascertained “we have about 38 health centers in Obafemi Owode Local Government, and there is no way one will not be near them.”

He, however, denied the claim of the community of writing or reaching to him or his office.

He said “I have not met them in person, they have not contacted me, they have not written to my office and I have not met them as a community, and I have not promised.”

He claimed that he just learned about this from this report, “you are the first person that informed me about this”

However, he appealed to the community to be more patient with them and the state government as all of their demands will be addressed.

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