For the residents of Gabon Camp in Emene, Enugu East Local Government Area, life is brutish, hard and unforgiving. Their daily existence typifies the Hobbesian state of nature, where life is savagely cruel with daily struggle for survival as a permanent feature.
It may sound strange that there is a Gabon camp in Enugu, Nigeria but it has nothing to do with the Republic of Gabon, a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa, bordering Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo to the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west.
The Gabon camp in Enugu is a settlement with no access road, health facility, either owned by government or private, no potable water, school or electricity. The community, located behind Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, has 120 family compounds with an estimated population of 5,000. It is dominated by people mainly from Ezza clan in Ebonyi State.
To access the settlement, a first-time visitor would need to cross the rail line towards the bank of Ekulu River, and walk for over 2km. Sadly, the community is cut off from the rest of the state, due to lack of access road. Visiting the community is a nightmare as it is only accessible through a track road by the bank of Ekulu River by foot or motorcycle, popularly known as ‘Okada’.
There have been reports that people often drown whenever the river overflows its bank. As the rainy season is here, residents of the community are becoming apprehensive about what might become their lot for the duration of the rainy season.
In the community, expectant mothers go through hell due to lack of access to medical care. Children trek for hours in the scorching sun to attend school. The hardship being faced by the people is akin to hell on earth due to the absence of basic infrastructure and social amenities. The people live like refugees in their fatherland with no sign of concern by government.