Poor road networks have become an enduring endemic for many rural communities in Nigeria, Niger State inclusive. In this report, HAMZAT IBRAHIM ABAGA visited Katapka, a farming community where farmers’ incomes nosedive as a result of the potholed road linking the community to metropolitan towns. That is not all. Children in the community were being denied the right to quality education amid dilapidated health facilities.
Mapped under Ebbo Gbacinku ward in Lapai local government area of Niger state, Katapka is a home for about 250 farmers and their families.
A six-kilometer journey from Kuchi-Kebba to Katapka could be best described as an adventure as motorcycles are the major means of plying the road. Going with a car would end up in a frustrating story.
Despite charging passengers N1,500, residents said motorcyclists often urged them to walk some distance while they scouted a less-slippery path on the road.
“This road is so difficult for us and that is why we charged a customer exorbitantly,” a motorcyclist said. “However, we end up spending a lot on repairing our bikes because of the deplorable situation of the road. Many of my colleagues always avoid this road.”
Like the Road, So Is their Health Center
The village head of Katapka, Alhaji Isah Aliyu, while pleading with the Niger State government to revamp the only Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the village, lamented the sorry state of the PHC, adding the facility has no single worker.
“We don’t have a single medical staff in our already decayed primary health care center,” said Aliyu. “For us to have access to health personnel whenever the need arises, we have to travel six kilometers to the nearest health care center in Kuchi Kebba town.”
The facility, according to Idris Manarakis, an On Air Personality who also visited the village is often left to the care of goats and other domestic animals pasturing around.
Findings showed that the facility was built during the administration of Dr Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu, the erstwhile governor of Niger State who handed over to Abubakar Sani Bello in 2015.
Sadly, the decaying facility has been forgotten by Bello’s administration which ends next year.
About 100 pupils in the community’s primary school receive lessons from two teachers, according to their parents. Unfortunately, one of the teachers teaches Arabic, while the other serves as the school head.
The Arabic teacher could not be qualified enough to teach the pupils as findings showed that he was on N-Power payroll, a scheme introduced by Nigeria’s government to stem the impact of socio-economic challenges facing the country.
“Our only primary school has one headteacher as a staff and one N-Power Arabic teacher from a neighboring village,” the village head disclosed. “The teacher is no longer coming due to the stoppage of N-Power payment.”
In his solution-based initiative, the village head enjoined the educated youths in the community to volunteer as teachers in the school. While they save the children’s future, parents contribute stipends to motivate them.
Again the initiative collapsed when the stipends stopped coming, Aliyu, the village head revealed.
Representing the interest of the youths in the community, Muhammad Shuaibu, the Secretary-General of Katakpa Youth Must Grow Community Association, expressed dismay over the negligence of his community.
According to him, parts of the millions of naira that would be spent on the forthcoming election could be judiciously used to rescue the future of Katapka.
As of press time, neither Lapai local government Chairman Mua’azu Hamidu Jantabo nor Niger state Commissioner of Education, Hannatu Jibrin Salihu, responded to calls or text messages sent to them.