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How Borehole From Corps member makes the difference for Ikot Okubo Community

By Ekemini Simon

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Friday, 27th September 2019 witnessed an ambience of joy, jubilation and plaudits at Ikot Okubo community in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State as the community after years of clamorous need were privileged to own a portable water courtesy of a Youth Service Corps member serving in the State.

According to residents of the community, few privileged persons who own borehole in their residence had access to good water leaving others to go long distances in purchase of water to cater for their daily needs. But how did relieve reach this community in dire need of public portable water? What would motivate a Corps member to embark on such a relief mission?

Inspiration Towards the Water Project

The Initiator of the Portable Water Project, Blessing Ameh, a Corps member with State Code Ak/18C/2610 who serves in the Ministry of Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport noted that she first identified lack of good source of water supply as a common problem bedevilling the community.

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Ameh who hails from Benue State and also graduated from the Department of Pre-primary and Primary Education with a Second Class Upper recalled that when she had moved into the community in January 2019 as the community was closer to her Place of Primary Assignment, the hospitality she enjoyed from members of the community moved her to reciprocate the love she enjoyed.

She narrated” When I left camp, got a place of primary assignment, I had gotten an apartment in the community through an agent. I left for two week break to bring down my properties.

” When I returned to Akwa Ibom from Benue State, it was late in the night. My apartment was very dusty and there is no water in the compound. Since they told me that although they sell water in the community, it is far from where I am staying. Surprisingly, someone I do not know offered to give me two buckets of water which I managed to clean up the house that night and slept.”

Yet, that was not the end of the kind gesture she enjoyed, she recollected that in the morning, when she needed water for the day’s activity, a boy also offered to fetch water for her without charge. The two experiences she mentioned was convincing enough for her to discern that she was welcomed in the community.

” I was totally new in the environment but they cared for me as if they knew me. Those kind gesture served as the masterstroke that inspired me,” she pointed out.

Ameh recalled that day after day, she reflected on what she could do that would be fitting to give back to the community until she finally decided to provide portable water for them. She notes that the major drive towards the choice of her project was to touch specifically the lowly who do not have access to portable water. Nevertheless, how would a Corps member who earns N19,800 monthly as allowance carry out a project at the cost of N500,000?

The Journey

The donor admitted that it was not an easy decision to embark on the project understanding the fact that it was capital intensive. She stated that she however drew courage from the orientation she received from NYSC which allows for a Corps members who have identified problem they which to solve through individual Community Development Service, CDS to source for funds from corporate organizations and individuals.

Yet, this provision does not automatically translate to success. Ameh revealed that there were times discouraging thought crept in owing to the huge capital involved in the project. “At some level, I questioned myself if I am insane to embark on such a project”, she admitted.

Ameh nonetheless did not allow pessimism saturate her thoughts. She noted that she braved up, contacted corporate organization, individuals and government officials especially those in the Ministry she serves.

The Corps member mentioned that at first, the responses she got were discouraging but she never tired out.

She added ” One thing about me is that I do not give up easily. I press on what i want until I achieve my goal. It came to a point that I said even if I can’t achieve it, let me just start something.” Will her optimism bear fruit? Ameh noted that she started receiving positive result through donation from the Commissioner in charge of her Ministry, Immediate Past and Present Permanent Secretary, among other top ranking staff of the Ministry, Patron of Catholic Corps Members, an organization she says she belongs.

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The Corps member mentioned that as work progressed she had to take photograph of the project to show those she met so as to make them realize that she meant business. She noted that the strategy yielded fruits as the project she started in February now have full portable water infrastructure.

What message does she really hope to pass across with her bold effort? She offers insight ” As a country, we need national unity, and as a people, we need to practice love and kindness. With this one year of serving my country, Nigeria, I am confident that by the commissioning of this project, I may have contributed my quota towards nation building and ultimately fulfilled the clarion call.” Yet with such a provision, how would the community react?

Ikot Okubo React

The Village Head of Ikot Okubo Offot Community in Uyo represented by Chairman of Village Council, Isaiah Udo said the project from the Corps member is a project after their heart especially as they were in need of portable water in the community.

He noted that although they had doubted her capacity at first, they are delighted that her courage has made the project a reality.

The Village Head narrated ” When she had approached me with her intention, I asked if as a corps member she will be able to actualize it, she was optimistic and asked to be given a chance to try.

“She brought her proposal and we gave her a go ahead. Despite telling her that we as a community may not be able to help her, she was still positive. She later came back, asked for a site, we gave her the site at the proposed Village Hall. She came back said she is ready to start and here we are. We are very delighted over this project.” We are very thankful to her for being the arrow head.”

While expressing appreciation to all who contributed towards the success of the project and the Initiator for working out the success of the project, he expressed how the community view Ameh. ” Blessing is a girl we all love. She lives amongst us. We respect her and pray God to bless her.” But the community will not allow her go without a parcel to show appreciation, thus, they presented to her a letter of appreciation with a souvenir.

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But will the project be protected to serve its purpose? The Youth Leader of the Community, Patrick Uko answered in the affirmative. ” We assure the initiator of this project that we will protect it. We know the value and we cant allow her effort to be in vain,” he assured. The initiator of the project is also optimistic about the project being used optimally. She notes ” I am optimistic that the community will maintain it. When people don’t know the value of a project, that is when they display ‘I don’t care attitude’. But here, they were in need. They know the value. I am also very pleased about it being located at the Civic Centre. It will be protected”.

Besides the community, staff of her Place of Primary Assignment, the Ministry of Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport are delighted over her effort. According to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Effiong Ekpenyong, who visited the site of the project with staff during commissioning noted that her effort was outstanding, commendable and worthy of emulation. What is more, the leadership of NYSC in the State do not take for granted her effort as the State Coordinator avails himself for the official handing over of the project to the community. But how do NYSC see her gesture? Has she derailed from the mandate of her service?

Ameh in the Eyes of NYSC

According to the State Coordinator of National Youth Service Corps, Mr Amusu Julius,
apart from primary assignment, Community Development Service is another important part of NYSC programme hence she is in order to pursue the project.

The State Coordinator who described the project as being outstandingly remarkable noted that the project deserves the attention of the Director General of NYSC hence he will not fail to inform him. He described Ameh as a good ambassador who has done NYSC proud.

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Julius added ” We have some deviant Corps members who make their community regret being their host. Ameh, since you have decided to rather contribute and put smile on the faces of members of this community, God in heaven will bless you.”

The NYSC State Coordinator who called on other Corps members to emulate Ameh’s courage and determination charged them not leave the State without making impact.

With this remarkable effort from a Corps member, it is the hope of many that the advice of the NYSC State Coordinator to the community is adhered: “Giving her souvenir is good. But protecting and using the project well is the best reward you can give her so that the memory of her effort can linger for a long time”.

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