Ibii, an agrarian community in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State is made up of two clans with 8 villages.
It has population size of about 15,000 persons. The community is blessed with different untapped mineral resources. It has been in darkness for over twenty years. It has no potable water.
Ibii is completely cut off from its neighbouring communities of Akpoha, Amasiri and Afikpo town as a result of bad road.
Our reporter who visited Ibii and had interaction with some members of the community said that they decried government’s neglect and called for the provision of amenities for the community.
Extract, Chief Francis Egwu Otu – Traditional Prime Minister of the community. We are neglected because it is over 20 years we don’t have light here, and yet nobody complains. The road was bulldozed last September but the grading to give it a facelift is still as it is, it is still in galloping and we are driving and walking on it.
“We can’t relent, we do communal work to keep pace with most of these requirements in the community. We still require Government interventions because we are very poor and you know how this community is. We believe that things will not continue this way.
“We don’t have light, no road. You can see people going to the stream to fetch water from the stream, and there is no borehole. The boreholes scattered in the community are not working. These boreholes have limited time, the motorized ones that were placed in the hands of the women, they said it was too costly to be buying fuel to start the power generating gets everyday, so, they abandoned it.
We the men invited the women to ask them why the motorized borehole was not working and they complained that the generating set was down. We gave them the mandate that before the next market day which is four days from today, they should see that the generating set is repaired because water is the life wire of every human being.
Then these natural resources which is the main subject today everywhere particularly in Ebonyi state, we have problem in Ibii. At times, Government will say if you see anything that is not good, report to them. But if you do, they will turn back and make a caricature of you because if the Government had intervened since 2014 we started having problem with the miners in this community, it could not have been in this way.
“Maybe one of these miners would have handled these deficient requirements. I don’t know what is wrong whether the Government wants us to fight and then shed blood before they will now come.
“We reported a case of a company coming to our community without passing through due process or following a template government gave us but the Government has not done anything about it and up till date that is still recurring. Every year, there will be free for all fight during meeting. They are fighting over who will take control of the mining site there. Since 2014, the mining site has been lying fallow there because of squabble; who will control the mineral resources.
There is a shrine called Ekwo Ibii. Ibii had about 27 villages before the inter-tribal war. Most of the people in Ikwo who migrated from here, come to Ibii to worship the Ekwo shrine. There is another shrine called Otamkpa shrine, it is located adjacent the development centre.
So, some people from Ikwo usually come here to worship the Ekwo shrine during farming season.
“They migrated from Ibii here to Ikwo their present location during the tribal war.
The caves are also other tourist centres. We have the one we call Ogba Okogoro. During the inter-tribal war, people were coming to waylay and abduct some persons. Some people from Arochukwu will come here, abduct some people and sell them as slaves. So, the cave served as a checkpoint for us.
“Most of our forefathers used that cave to protect the community or to block the road which the abductors pass to abduct our people and that was why the cave was called Ogba Okogoro. It is just beside the Ekwo Ibii shrine. You will be circling the mountain before you get to the shrine there. Our forefathers got there and planted that shrine there and it is still there. It is as old as the community. Nobody dares to remove that Ekwo shrine.
“We also have Ugwu Enwo cave. We were hiding there during the civil war. I was in Biafra war but I was not behind the line that is I didn’t go out to fight the war. Jet bombers were so scaring and that is the old technique the federal troops were applying, when they used it every person here will escape and then run to the cave. When they throw bomb on it, it will not penetrate. In the evening when the federal troop might have retreated either to Akpoha or to Afikpo, the community will come back and gather things. In the afternoon, the twilight, they will go back to those caves. It was protecting the people against attack, rain or sun. The federal troops were not entering the cave, they were afraid and they couldn’t locate it.
The caves in this community are tourist centres, they are part of the tourist centres that when harnessed, will project the community, the state and the country. This Community is known for massive rice production. We also cultivate yam, cocoa yam and other crops in large quantity”.
The Youth President of the community, Wisdom Nnali Uroh, said that Ibii community is more than 10,000 in population and it comprises of Eluogo and Agbogo. Agbogo has about five villages while the Eluogo has three. This community is richly blessed. There are lots of mineral resources in Ibii; granite, tanchalite and others. If you come to Ibii, there are agricultural produce; cassava, yam, potatoes, tomatoes and others. Ibii is richly blessed. There are crops that are properly scheduled for women and for men.
Cassava is for women to farm and if you come to yam, it is basically for men and the youths are seriously engaged in rice production and others. So, the village is very much blessed in terms of agricultural produce and mineral resources.
There are lots of tourism potentials in Ibii. There are caves; number one is the cave of Ugwu Enwo. Ugwu Enwo cave was a cave that more than two thousand persons can go into and even close the door. Nigerian soldiers passed in front of the cave and ac0rossed it without knowing that there is an embedded underground for people and it is still in existence till today.
The early men before building of houses lived inside the cave. That Ugwu Enwo cave is a cave specially made by God, it is not artificial. If you go there, you will see monkies jumping from one place to another and that is why it is called Ugwu Enwo.
There is another place called Enyumbarara. In that place, you can move for more than 3km without seeing sand, it is only made of stone and it is another tourist centre. Even now as we are talking you will see fish harvest going on in some parts of the community.
Our challenges are many. Ibii is having a very big challenge, it is located in between the three major towns in Afikpo, that is Afikpo urban, Amasiri and Akpoha. Ibii is at the centre of these towns so, development in Afikpo runs across them to meet other towns.
Electricity is a very big problem here. The strong ones have vandalized our electricity. The road in Ibii is another big issue, we don’t have road. Network is another problem. If you come to Ibii, there are some GSM networks that are not found here. It is only airtel that is here and it is not in all the places in Ibii.
Water is another challenge. If you come to boreholes, we have dilapidated ones; no single borehole is working here, it is only the natural water that we have which is not good because cattle drink from it also and you know what it means.
The issue of mining here is also another big issue. Though the Governor of Ebonyi State has made sure that it is easy but some men still deem it wise that the money accrued from mining here should come into their pockets without considering the Community. You saw a company that packed a lot of machine in one of the mining sites when you were coming? They paid money into a wrong hand and the community said no, since we don’t see this money you cannot operate and that is the problem now.
Beatrice Mgbeodichimma Imo, a retired primary school teacher.
Our community is manly known for Agriculture. If you come to Ibii, we specialize in rice and cassava production even melon. If you want to buy melon, you buy it here in quantity. We use motorcycle to convey our farm produce to Afikpo town for sale.
The bad road and lack of electricity is hindering our business. In a year each farmer produces about 200 bushels of rice but if we have good road it will be double.
Government should give us rice mill so that we will stop transporting our rice to Afikpo town for milling and sale.
The Ugwu Enwo period is where we rest when we go to farm and people were saved in the Ugwuenwo cave during the civil war.
If it is raining, you run from your farm to Ugwu Enwu, if the sun is too much, you hide in the Ugwu Enwu Cave.