Residents of Opoo community, a remote settlement in Itesiwaju Local Government Area of Oyo State, are set to have their fortunes turned around as the government has concluded plans to intervene in their present situation.
The state government is set to reconstruct the dilapidated primary school building, equip the community’s abandoned health centre and provide residents with clean drinking water.
Excited at the news, residents who had suffered untold hardship as a result of the neglect of the community by successive administration over the years, told our correspondent during the week that some officials and concerned individuals had been visiting the place since last weekend and had promised to totally transform the place.
The development followed an exclusive report in Saturday PUNCH of June 28, 2014 where the plights of the residents were brought to light.
Saturday PUNCH reported how the community’s only primary school with three classrooms was in terrible condition, leaving over 150 students taught by only two teachers to share the only surviving classroom that had almost half of its roof already torn apart.
The health centre built in 2007 according to the report, has been overtaken by weeds and dangerous animals, while the people’s only source of water is a dirty spring shared by humans and cattle which urinate and defecate directly into it, thereby exposing the locals to several health risks.
Since the report was published, there had been a surge in traffic to the area especially by government officials and concerned groups willing to help the people overcome the challenges.
Earlier in the week, our correspondent was reliably informed by inhabitants and missionaries working in the area that representatives of the First Lady of Oyo State, Commissioner for Education and his counterpart from the State’s Ministry of Water Resources and officials of the State Universal Basic Education Board had all visited the area to evaluate the situation while the national executives of the Association of Water Well Drilling Practitioners of Nigeria also visited the community pledging to provide two boreholes for the residents free of charge.
President of the group, Michael Ale, confirmed this to our correspondent during the week.
“Many people have been visiting Opoo since the newspaper report was published,” Evangelist David Taiwo, one of the missionaries working in the area, told our correspondent on Thursday.
He added, “In fact I have received several calls from people across the country who are eager to help improve the living condition of the residents.
“On Monday, myself and community leaders held a meeting with the Local Government Chairman at Okaka to discuss the way forward. The chairman told us that the state government was alarmed by the plight of the people and had ordered work to immediately begin.
“As we speak, surveyors have visited to check out the school building. If not for the rains, work would have started on the school because I suspect the entire building would likely be pulled down to pave way for the construction of a new one.
“But as a temporary relief for the school pupils, the health centre has been cleaned up to serve as a lecture place for them pending when the building will be ready.”
Moses Kodjo, a 40-year-old local, confirmed Taiwo’s assertion, saying, “Every day since the newspaper report, people have been visiting Opoo. Some come to take pictures and just go while others ask us how we want them to assist us. We have told them our major problems and now hope that they can fulfill their promises to us soon.”
Opoo, an agrarian community, is 10 kilometres away from Okaka, administrative headquarters of the local government and double that distance to Iseyin, home to the largest tobacco platation in Oyo State. Punch