There is always background (recorded and sometimes not recorded) information about a community, settlement or a geographical location. One should not take this memory keeping routine for granted. In Benue State, we have different myths ranging from one tribe to another, which gives an over view of the elementary aspect of an entity.
Certainly, not everyone has background knowledge of how their community transformed, such narratives are usually told by old people who either witnessed or were told of such settlements.
Considering the background of Gyado Villa, km3, Gboko road, a settlement in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, according to Baba Himbir Nor, “Before the name Gyado Villa, the settlement was known as Ichar-Ihar, a Tiv derivation which means, two bridges.”
As the name ,”Two Bridges” implies, there were a pair of bridges across a stream between the 24/7 Hotel and Kyabiz Hotel. Later on, the two bridges were reconstructed into a single and more capacitated bridge that has been in existence till date.
The settlement was later called Gyado Villa when a well known politician, Senator Dr. Jacob Tilley-Gyado (born in 1944) from Ihugh, Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State built an upright structure and made a bold inscription of “Tilley-Gyado Villa”. Although, people didn’t feel alright with the name initially, it turns out to be on virtually everyone’s lips. Dr Jacob Tilley-Gyado also built a Hotel known as “Villa Suites” which is now changed to a Primary School called “Villa Academy”, all these made their tongues glued to the name Tilley-Gyado Villa than the initial “I char-Ihar.”
Gyado Villa now constitutes a populated number of students, a few of civil servants and retailers. The area has a massive number of students because of its proximity to the Benue State University, Makurdi which is why it is sometimes referred to as “students area.”
Most of the settlers are retailers who make reasonable amount of money and get the highest patronage from the students who have a massive population in the area. Those who choose to earn a living through business make money through their sells in provisional shops, POS shops, food vendors and so forth. Those who are skilled enough go into tailoring, barbing/hair dressing, shoe making among others. Some dwellers go to River Benue for fishing while others grow vegetables, tomatoes and cassava at the banks of the River.
The privileged people are able to build houses and give out for rent; they are paid annually and make a better life thereof.
As it is applicable to every community, there are always hurdles hindering development, Gyado Villa is not an exception of such hurdles. The area is faced with a lot of challenges.
Flood disaster in Gyado Villa has become an annual occurrence whenever there is heavy rainfall. The disaster causes much destruction and discomfort to the residents. Just imagine, you slept and woke up to discover your bed deep inside water. This is really a bad experience; the panic isn’t seeing your body wet, the issue is seeing your valuable documents destroyed by water. If gutters are dug properly, there would be no flood.
Another issue is insecurity; there is fear of theft, death, robbery and harassment, especially by the cult members. One would say, there is just 5% of security in Gyado Villa which makes it very unsafe for people’s lives and properties. In the past, 2019/2020 to be precise, the dreadful cases of murder kept everyone in a state of fear and kept people posing out the question, “will I survive in Gyado Villa?”
Crime cases became so common, cult rivals turn against each other and lives were taken virtually every week until vibrant youths ganged up to put a stop to the ungodly menace. The police and some armed security agents also ensured the safety of the place by checking from time to time to fish out those behind crime.
Speaking in an interview with The Voice, a resident of the area, Mama Ashimo More said, “Apart from the government, members of the community can also play a role in ensuring a safer community. For example, the landlords should examine their tenants before taking them in to avoid housing criminals in the area. Dwellers of the community should also ensure the security of the area by working jointly to fish out the criminals and by reporting every suspicious movement to the police while the police should also check on the area from time to time and endeavour to handle reported cases, respectively.”
There is also a challenge of bad roads. One of the three elements of a developed community is a well structured road for transportation. Bad roads are usually very uneasy for movement in addition to the fact that they create unnecessary accident scenes.
Gyado Villa has being one of the places where there is always a steady flow of electricity until the coming of “prepared metre” where there is a metre that reads according to the amount of power consumption and disconnects automatically when exhausted. Its limits are exhausted in a short time compared to the previous manual system. The dwellers complained of the high cost of electricity tariff which makes it difficult for students to read.
One of the dwellers, Iorfa Terzungwe, who also spoke with The Voice appealed that, “metre system shouldn’t be used in a students’ area like Gyado Villa.”
In order to enhance development of the state capital, Gyado Villa and other settlements must all be carried along by providing for their needs and securing lives and property. Government should also fill in the gaps where such areas are lagging behind. Therefore, good roads, security and natural disasters like flood should be properly looked into. Also, inflation is really affecting such communities.
Terngu, a student of Benue State University, Makurdi, is an intern with The Voice from the Benue State University, Makurdi.