Six Strategies For Ewu Development – Self Help Approach – Eromosele
SIX STRATEGIES FOR EWU DEVELOPMENT – SELF HELP APPROACH
(Being text of a Paper delivered by Saintmoses Eromosele Esq aka SME at the EPF ONLINE POLITICAL LECTURE SERIES organized by the Ewu Progress Foundation/Ewu Political Forum on Sunday, 16th September, 2018, in the EPF Platform)
In this presentation, I decided to use Ewu as a case study for community development because I am addressing the Ewu Progress Foundation, and the Ewu people.
While we must continue to call on the government to come and develop Ewu, but we must realise that our destiny as a people lies in our own hands. There is a saying that “Heaven helps those who help themselves”. I share this view.
Most people, especially the politicians, think of “doing a project” when they hear the words “community development”. But my research (and experience) has been that the process of development, or following a development program is more important than mere projects – majority of which are mere stunts, not sustainable.
We all want Ewu to have good roads, clean water, thriving economy, better access to health care, food and income, etc. But how do we achieve this? That is the ‘Selavi’ of the matter.
Successful community development approaches focus more on the “how” of projects than just receiving them.
Here are six common strategies we could utilize for the development of Ewu, before the government comes to our aid.
1. Ewu Needs Food Security.
I recall my childhood in Ewu. My uncle, Francis Airahuobhor (aka Jomo Kenyatta), and father of the BOT Secretary of EPF, Osi Jomo, he farmed in many places in Ewu. My annual visits to Ewu, especially during the Ihuenlan feast, I witnessed food, surplus food, in Ewu. My uncle had large rice farms, oil palm and yams.
I still recall my childhood with nostalgia. My grandmother, Nene Aihe, from Ehanlen-Ewu (God Bless Her Beautiful Soul) would process cassava into Akpu and corn into Emumu, Ori, Ekor and Amadidi and trade them at Ehanlen Market, Ekpoma and Irrua markets. From the proceeds she was able to buy us few presents and ‘Elamen Esi’ (Pork) which we loved then and relished. Life was simple and blessed.
Idunwele-Ewu didn’t have these tarred roads and culverts at that time (only one tarred road stretching through the whole of Ewu) yet hunger was virtually absent in the community. Why? Because the people mastered this first strategy – Food Security. Development does not consist of skyscrapers or railways only.
Ewu needs agriculture related projects that help people produce food, store food, use food more economically, or grow/produce marketable products. The EPF could obtain land in each of the seven communities of Ewu and set up EPF Farms and a Cooperative Society to produce food, generate employment and stimulate local economy by way of trade and transportation for the farm produce.
The process of Food security could also invariably bring job skills training or encourage small business startups to help increase overall individual and family income.
2. Ewu Needs a Healthcare Programme
Our ancestors were wise. They had provisions for protecting the community against sicknesses and diseases, even epidemic. But we must not continue to blame ourselves over our apparent deficiency in this area. We can evolve one today.
Let’s take active interest in all the healthcare centers in Ewu. We have a General Hospital at Idunwele, a Primary Health Care center at Eguare-Ewu and PAX Herbal pharmaceuticals at Ehanlen-Ewu, among other private hospitals and clinics (orthodox and traditional). Notable is the Omosun Trado-Psychiatry Hospital at Ehanlen-Ewu.
We must work out strategies to support these institutions to work well. We must supervise especially the government owned Hospitals and healthcare centers to ensure that they provide optimal service.
3. Ewu Needs Clean Pipe Borne Water and Sanitation
A common development oriented project is needed in Ewu to help the community with clean portable water. EPF could inspire, or execute, one. In the founding document of the EPF, we stated that we want to see this done. This is possible.
We could try to sink one or two community owned industrial boreholes sunk at the uphill part of Ewu and have safe pipes laid downtown to streets in Ewu, from which landlords could tap and get community water supply into their homes or gardens, and get water. Of course the water may not be free of charge, as those who get the service may pay a community levy or fee to maintain the Ewu Water Board that would be established to maintain the boreholes and treat the water where needed. If the government is absent in your community, organise to govern yourself!
This suggestion may sound crazy at first, but on a second deeper thought it would be seen to be a good approach in self-help to give clean water to more homes in Ewu, before the government comes – if they ever will.
4. Ewu Needs To Promote Education, Skills Acquisition and Adult literacy for Ewu People
Ewu can evolve a strategy for children and youth education, as well as adults literacy and skill acquisition for all. This strategy could include child sponsorship projects, accrual of necessary materials for attending school (books, supplies, uniforms, etc.), or even simple things such as healthy school lunches, encouragement of wealthy indigenes to provide grants or scholarship to gifted but indigent students. The EPF Community Library & ICT Centre that was commissioned by you in Ewu recently is a huge effort in this direction. We can do even more. And especially education for our women and girls too.
5. EPF Can Set Up or Encourage the Setting up of Co-operative Societies, microenterprises or microfinance ventures.
I am proud that EPF President, Mr Fidelis Edokpa, who is already doing the Faithful Investment Ventures, a micro finance investment in Ewu. He should as well lead the EPF to also set up cooperatives for agriculture, trade and other economic ventures.
6. Ewu Needs to Evolve Novel Political Engagement Strategy for Politicians, Parties and Government
This might sound odd but it’s necessary. Ewu must deemphasize partisan politics when it comes to development. Anyone who elevates political parties’ interest over community interest, in matters of development, should be ostracized.
Without political engagement, self-help may just not be enough. EPF is already doing well in this direction by mobilising for voters in the recently concluded Continuous Voter Registration ahead of 2019 general election. But it could do more.
During the campaigns, EPF could, and should, invite all the candidates and political parties (not merely to hear their delicious empty promises, but) to demand that they swear on Oath at any of the community shrines in Ewu or depose to an affidavit at the High Court (whichever they subscribed to is ok) what they pledge to do for the community if elected.
Anyone that avoids this demonstration of commitment should not be trusted and your organization, in concert with others in Ewu, should mobilise the Ewu people to vote against such a person or the party. Vote for anyone who takes the Oath (Every politician takes an oath in filling the INEC Forms, so taking an Oath in making promises to the people shouldn’t be strange unless they aren’t sincere). And other communities in Nigeria would take a cue from the Ewu model once this is adopted and you would see a better nation quicker that expected and inspired by our innovation in Ewu.
This Oath taking suggestion might sound crazy, especially to those pretending to be asleep that are hard to wake up, but – trust me – it is the way to go in Nigeria of today. The Oath might not end bad leadership overnight but it would significantly reduce promise and failing and also make parties and politicians make realistic promises and take people more seriously.
The Oath taking, if successful, would help to get the future government to come to our aid and not to frustrate our self-help because, even a straw carried over a long distance becomes heavy so also, self-help if we failed to get the government to come in at some point would eventually degenerate to Selfstress.
May God Bless Ewu.
Thank you and good evening.
Saintmoses Eromosele Esq.
ONEGHE SELE FOUNDATION
Irrua, Esan Central.
Tel: 0 702 040 7106