By Davies Iheamnachor
The people of Rundele in Emohua Local Government Area, Rivers State, have grumbled that the state government has abandoned over 10 acres of land the community donated for development purpose, years ago, saying government should return the land if it was no longer interested for villagers to legitimately carry out farming activities.
NDV learned that the entire land space, which accommodated former Teacher Training College, TTC, in the 70s, National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, orientation camp, College of Education and currently, Ignatius Ajuru University (Extension Campus) had long been fenced by government.
But some workers of the university were using the land to farm, while farmers in the community have nowhere to farm.
The community, has, therefore, pleaded with the authorities of the university to return part of the land it occupies in their community for the people to have somewhere to farm.
The community said the request became necessary following its findings that major courses in the institution have been removed from the campus, thus reducing academic activities on the premises.
Govt. neglected land we provided – Elendu, CDC chair
Community Development Chairman, Mgbuelia Ndele, Emohua Local Government Area, Mr. Kpalikwu Elendu, told NDV: “We are bothered about it because we have wasted a vast land of which we could have used for our crops. We donated the land to government and the government abandoned it.
“The problem is from the governor who took almost all the departments in that campus back to main campus in Rumuolumeni, squeezing all the faculties and departments there and leaving this one for nothing.
“The place was formerly an NYSC camp, but the camp was removed to Nonwa around 1999. The relocation of this camp and the removal of the faculties from the campus have affected the development of our community,” he said.
Workers cultivating cassava on the land
Elendu stated that the community was bothered about non-utilization of the land it gave to government, adding: “Nothing comes to the community despite the over 10 acres of land wasted there. We are not deriving anything from that land, we are still appealing to the government to please recognize that we have donated that land to them and they should make use of it for the purpose for which that land was donated to them, or any other purpose that will be beneficial to the community.
“Instead of using the land for academic purposes, government people are using it for cultivation of cassava.
“Since government fenced the land, the community does not have access to the land again and all the workers there now use the land as their farm. So if the government is no more using the land, they should quickly return it to the owners, so that we can make use of it. For now, they are still occupying it.
“If government is not using that school again as it stands now, they should return it to the owners. Let us use it or they should develop the land. The land there is wasting,” he asserted.
The community leader disclosed: “When the school was functioning well, a lot of our people had much interest in school. Like some of our people who were employed as security and other casual labourers used the opportunity and became graduates.
“Community men and women also used the opportunity because it is just a walk to the campus, but now that the school is no more, it is affecting us because that opportunity is off from us. Nothing is happening there. How many students are there? How many departments are there?
“Houses are there, nobody comes to rent them, businesses are not moving again. If students were here as before, markets will flourish. Our businesses are grounded.
“The government we have today is behind all these. A project you did not start, instead of you to sustain what others started, you are stopping it. It is affecting the donors of the land.”
Don’t waste our land – Okuku, community leader
Also speaking, a former CDC chairman of Egamini, Ndele, Hon. Stephen Okuku, noted that abandonment of IAUE, Ndele campus, was disturbing.
“Their abandonment of that land where we had former Teachers Training College far back in 1970 that nurtured many big men of today, NYSC camp and College of Education, is not going down well with us. You cannot take our land from us and still not use and you stop us from having it back. We no longer farm there. Farming is not going on there and the buildings there are wasting.
“I am using this opportunity to call on government to please remember that school. And if they are not interested again, they should officially tell the community to take back the land. The land there is good and large enough for our farming activities. Our garri is the best in the entire state and we are not happy that that vast land we would have been using for agricultural activities is wasting.
Anonymous staff raises security concerns
However, the top management of the Ignatius Ajuru University campus in Ndele, who did not want his name in print said academic activities were still on in the campus.
The top management official said the community had already made the complaint, but regretted that it was unenthusiastic until Business Studies, the top department with highest number of students and lecturers left the place.
He also mentioned that security was one of the reasons the university moved the most important departments back to the main campus, adding that most of the demands could be met if they are properly channeled.