For decades, residents of Saimami Ubo, a village in Rubochi ward under Kuje Area Council, Abuja, solely depend on a contaminated river, mostly infiltrated by herds of cattle pasturing through the community.
The unhealthy water has done more bad than good to the resident. Somedays, “we fight dirty with herders,” said Elder Iliya Dakwoi, the interim monarch of Saimami Ubo. “Secondly, our people (especially children) suffer various illnesses.”
Dakwoi told WikkiTimes the contaminated water was responsible for the strange diseases. And more disheartening, there is no single health center, “except Rubochi General hospital which is about an hour drive from our village.”
Majorly “our problems are water and health center(s),” the monarch told WikiTimes.
“Before we get to the river, cows would have unsettled the water leaving us with no option but to wait for it to settle,” he added. As a result of this, “people have fallen sick several times and we have to take them to Abaji or Rubochi general.”
Unending Faceoff Between Residents And Herders
The struggle for who to access the water first has been a problem for a while, but 2021 was the epic.
“There was a day when the herders trooped to the river with their cattle,” Dakwoi recalled. “They met our women there preparing to fetch water and the herders overpowered them, allowing their cattle to ruffle the water.”
This, Dakwai revealed, erupted into a crisis which would later be settled at the late monarch’s palace, Dogara Dakwai.
Although, he explained that the herders with whom his people fought had vacated the community.
But last Sunday, another set of herders moved into the village, Dakwoi disclosed.
“They (herders) are plenty this time around. You can come and see them, we hope we survive them this time.”
“Since we can’t fight them, we have urged our women to avoid them and allow them to do whatever they deem fit with the water,” said the monarch.
To Gloria Ayinu, the head of women in Saimami village, drilling a borehole remains the lasting solution.
The health hazard of the water, according to Ayinu, is more deadly than the mayhems herders inflict.
“Just three days ago, they bring my husband pikin come from hasibiti (hospital),” Ayinu said in Pidgin. “People dey sick well well o. Dem no dey well at all.”
She corroborated Dakwoi’s lines saying they had to take the sick ones to hospitals in the town.
Expressing her anger over the inhumane attitudes of the herders, Ayinu told WikkiTimes that prior to the time their men advised them to allow peace to reign, the herders had threatened to slit their throat if they tried to prevent the cattle from using the water.
According to her, the cattle defecate in the water and this, she was convinced, drives the diseases.
Failed Campaign Promises
Both Ayinu and Dakwoi were in pain. They felt betrayed by the politicians who promised them changes during the last councillorship elections.
“Dem talk say if we vote councila, we go get borhole water,” Ayinu told WikkiTimes, adding: “Cancila no do us anything o. We tell chairman, him too no do us anything.”
Ayinu’s voice depicts anger. “As we vote am finish, he park him wife and children go Kuje. He no come back again,” she said.
Dennis Dagzy, a youth from the community, said he had written to the Kuje council chairman, Abdullahi Sulaiman Sabo and Ibrahim Aminu, the councilor representing Rubochi ward, but his efforts proved abortive.
“Apart from the letters, I requested to meet them but up till now, I have not been permitted,” he told WikkiTimes. “My proposed visitation letter was denied.”
Sabo, the council chairman and Aminu, the councilor did not respond to WikkiTimes’ detailed enquiry sent to them. They also ignore calls several times.