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58 years after, lawmaker rehabilitates roads linking Nigeria, Cameroon

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In 1961, the people of Bang, Bang Three Corner, Vakunde, Tamya, Mbamnga, Mbamnga Pete, among others in the Mambilla Plateau of Sardauna Local Council of Taraba State voted to remain in Nigeria in the plebiscite, which held that year to determine their fate.

Their belief was that staying with Nigeria, rather than switching allegiance to neighbouring Republic of Cameroon, would serve them better. But 58 years down the line, they scarcely can say that their lives have been made better by their decision to stay back.Over the years, the people led by their traditional rulers and other top stakeholders have not been quiet about their needs, but have continuously appealed to the Federal Government to adhere to the terms of the 1961 plebiscite in order to guarantee them succour.

But with all their pleas falling on deaf ears, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly Abel Peter Diah, took the bull by the horn and embarked on the rehabilitation of various internal roads, as well as some linking the communities with Cameroon. Diah, who represents Mbamnga Constituency in the Assembly, is also the Deputy Chairman, Nigeria Conference of Speakers.

Currently, the communities are devoid of modern amenities, including motorable roads, clinics, schools and others needed to make life meaningful. When The Guardian visited some of the communities recently, a journey on motorbike from Gembu, the administrative headquarters of Sardauna Local Council, which in the past took about two hours, was executed within 30 minutes due to the current state of the roads. 

In addition to that, traveling from the affected communities to Cameroon and vice versa for different goods and services, which used to be a nightmare is now something close to a pleasant experience.Excited by the lawmaker’s efforts, and deeply saddened by the Federal Government’s lack of interest in their wellbeing, stakeholders in the communities are calling on the Federal Government to complement Diah’s efforts by constructing the Bailey bridge across River Donga, which is equally a link between both countries.

Commenting on Diah’s gesture, the District Head of Mbamnga, Alhaji Saleh Abubakar expressed sadness that “none of the terms agreed upon by the Federal Government during the 1961 plebiscite have been fulfilled.”Abubakar, who questioned if “this is how communities that are sharing an international border with another country are supposed to look like,” expressed gratitude to the lawmaker for halting the death of pregnant women, who pass on while embarking on the tortuous journey to give birth in distant health facilities.”

Wondering why the Federal Government has continued, “to pretend as if it has no knowledge of the plebiscite,” he added, “We are not happy with the Federal Government at all. We are now frowning because the Federal Government of Nigeria has implemented none of the terms of agreements reached.

“Our legislator, who is supposed to legislate on our behalf has taken over the Federal Government’s responsibility by rehabilitating our roads that were in pathetic condition.”While pointing out that Diah did not only rehabilitate federal roads in the communities, but also feeder roads linking the various communities, he admonished the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, complement this effort by constructing the Bailey Bridge across River Donga in order to enhance free trade between Cameroon and Nigeria, and generally boost economic activities. 

He stressed that beyond rehabilitating the roads, the Speaker equally empowered women and youths, as well as assisting them with free medical outreach.”Speaking in the same vein, the Village Head of Bang Community, Johnson Iba, who enumerated the negative effects that government’s refusal to honour the plebiscite has had on the people of the area, maintained that the country’s economy would have been better off if the terms were honoured.

The Secretary of the Mambilla Traditional Council, Nzikachin I. Bani, claimed that but for the timely intervention of some members, some of their subjects were already exploring ways of returning to Cameroon. However, the lawmaker’s gesture did not only delight his jubilant compatriots, they were joined by equally joyous residents of neighbouring Cameroonian communities, who came out en masse with massive drums to celebrate the rehabilitation.

Diah, who said he was constrained to take action in order to help his long-suffering people since the Federal Government has abandoned them, stressed, “So I will not blow my trumpet because I feel it was necessary to come to the aide of my people since the Federal government has decided to turn it’s back on us.”He, however, gave kudos to state government that has been trying in little ways to make sure that people of the communities did not regret joining the Federal republic of Nigeria as a result of the 1961 plebiscite. 

 


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Abel Peter Diah
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