By Lukpata James
The concrete bridge is known as OKOOLO BRIDGE located at Idaa Wanihem a boarder Community in Ukelle Cross River’s Community between Adum Agbe in Oju Local Government Area of Benue State.
Before its construction in 2003, it was a torpedoed of many hopes and dreams with unestimated loss of lives and goods from travellers as water usually swept goods in transit and drown some people during attempt by the local fishermen to cross them.
As the first and only visible project that indicates government presence in Ukelle, the Yala ll State constituency, over three decades leaves many questions to linger as to whether the entire constituency truely has the recognition as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Laws of Cross River State.
It also prisks to query if government’s neglect of the region is caused by lack of strong voices to speak up for the people as seen in other places where socio-political organisations and activists advocate and speak for respective regions and interest groups or is it the ineptitude of the privilege few from the land that are bereft of what to do at a particular time to woo and attract government presence to the pressing needs of the constituents which has till date left the Yala ii Constituency in complete neglect and reckless abandonment.
Meanwhile, the OKOOLO BRIDGE that has been constructed to ease movement of goods and passengers through C’RIVER and Benue State, is just one among many others spread across the abandoned constituency beginning from the Ogmasi River in wanihem ward that links part of Yala 1 constituency down to Iteem Adeegboo River in Wanikade ward that links Iboko local government of Ebonyi State are still unattended to except for the little effort of community people that provides wooden canoe to paddle goods and passengers tro and fro with expectant risk of lossing lives and goods when the canoe capsizes.
Ukelle Nation will forever remain grateful to HE Mr Donald Duke, the erstwhile Governor of C’River State who constructed the bride, commissioned and delivered to the people along the first attempt to grade the road that uptil date remains the greatest challenge facing the region.
Governor Duke who was fondly called the ‘UKELLE GOVERNOR’ due to his closeness to Dr Julius Okputu one of Ukelle’s sons serving as the commissioner for works coupled with his interest and desire to develop Ukelle and give them a new lease of life through the provision of infrastructure as evident with attempts on road construction, electricity and human capital.
Haven expressed their sincere gratitude to Duke for showing them love and his attempt to put Ukelle on the map Ukelle people are also hopeful that the present Governor of C’River State Sen HE Ben Ayade will replicate the gestures of his predecessors by extending his hand of friendship to Ukelle with a view to meeting her many pressing needs top of which is the lack of accessed road.