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History 101: Don’t Say Aba, It Was Ikot Abasi Women Riot!

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By Michael Effiong

 

History is said to be the record of past events. It is actually the combination of two words-His ( apologies to the women activists) and story. So technically, it is the story as told by someone.

 

Therefore, the person telling the story is of great significance and that is why when you flip through the Holy Bible’s New Testament, you will find Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recording and reporting almost the same events but their nuances are obvious .

 

What this means is that history can be distorted or more accurately embellished or twisted to fit the narrative of the writer.

 

This essentially was what famous writer, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie was canvassing in her TED Talk titled “The Danger of a single story”.

Adichie believes that stories matter, but that all too often in our lives we operate from the perspective of hearing and knowing a single story- about a person or situation.

 

She went further to state that the risk of the single story is that it can lead us to default assumption, conclusions and decisions that maybe incomplete and/or completely false.

 

For her, in any historical account, who told the story, how and when the story was told can taint, frame and affect the narrative.

 

It is within this context that one has to examine the false narrative by historians that there was an Aba Women Riot, when in fact the only recorded riot that led to deaths of women in 1929 happened in Ikot Ibasi, in present day Akwa Ibom State and therefore, that riot, should appropriately have been referred to as IKOT ABASI WOMEN RIOT!

 

This is how the incident is recorded if you consult Google: According to American Historical Association: “In Nigeria there occurred what colonial historians have called the Aba Women’s riots of 1929, but it should be termed the Aba Women’s rebellion. This was touched off by the imposition of direct taxation and the introduction of new local courts and especially of warrant chiefs.” [A. Adu BoahenAfrican Perspectives on Colonialism (Baltimore, 1987), p. 79.

 

Here is one account of this rebellion by a person who called the episode a riot in her 1937 book, Native Administration in Nigeria (London, 1937). The author, Margery Perham, was regarded as a friend of Nigeria and the Igbos until the Biafran secession movement. The participants in this event were Igbo.

 

Wikipedia: The Aba Women’s Riots of 1929 (IgboOguUmunwanyiIbibioEkong Iban) was a period of unrest in colonial Nigeria over November 1929. The protests broke out when thousands of Igbo women from the Bende DistrictUmuahia and other places in southeastern Nigeria traveled to the town of Oloko to protest against the Warrant Chiefs, whom they accused of restricting the role of women in the government. It was organised and led by the rural women of Owerri and Calabar provinces.

 

If you look carefully at the “authorities” quoted above, you will realise that none is from the very area or have any relationship with those who actually were involved in the situation and therefore, even if it was oral history that they used to develop their account, it could certainly not have been accurate.

For those who don’t know ,the riots built up from the January 1, 1914 when the first Nigerian colonial Governor, Lord Lugard instituted the system of Indirect Rule in Southern Nigeria. Under this plan, the British Administrators ruled through Warrant Chiefs, who worked with the colonial officers.

The Warrant Chiefs as is the case with some people in power became power drunk, they became oppressive, seized property, imposed draconian regulations and even imprisoned those who opposed as the years went by.

It was within this context that the British colonial administration decided to impose a special tax on Market women in 1929.

So, it was not long that the women decided to take matters in their hands and began to protest in many cities but there is no evidence that the women were shot at and killed like was done in Ikot Abasi. How did I know? Well the scars and evidence areright there in Ikot Abasi!

That is not all, to drive this point home, the Ikot Abasi protest was led by the paternal grandmother of the former minister and senator, Udoma Udo Udoma. She was even killed in the process.

Udoma in an interview said he never met the brave woman, but he heard enough stories about her to make him proud of his heritage.

According to him: “As you all know Madam Adiaha-Edem, the leader of the Ikot Abasi women protesters was my paternal grandmother. She was a very successful trader and community leader. As a big trader, she was a wholesale distributor of products such as bar soap, salt, detergents, stockfish, and kerosene. Her traded volumes were so large that, to guarantee her supply, she used to deposit large sums of money with such big trading outfits as G.B. Ollivant Limited and African Traders Corporation. She also had a big market stall and was a seamstress. A very enterprising woman indeed!”

“But not only was she successful, she was also independent minded. She did not mind going against local norms once she was convinced about something. That was how she converted to Christianity, a few years after my father was born.

She became such a strong Christian that she even tried to convert her husband, my grandfather. But my grandfather was adamant that as a leading and highly respected figure in the society, and as a custodian of the culture and traditions, he could not abandon the beliefs of his ancestors! This caused tremendous stress in their marriage and led, ultimately, to a divorce.

“She was a truly remarkable woman. Unfortunately, since she was killed in 1929, and I was born in 1954, I never met her. I don’t even know what she looked like because in 1929 our people had not yet developed the practice of taking studio photographs of themselves. However, as a young boy, I heard stories of what happened to my grandmother. I used to marvel at her bravery and courage and that of all the women who accompanied her in confronting the British colonial administration.”

“The immediate cause of the protest was the introduction of direct taxation, which the women understood was going to be extended to trading and other activities, principally carried on by women. Whilst the introduction of direct taxation in 1929 was resented by all, it was the women who were adamant that they were not going to pay any such taxes”.

“Many of the women were, like my grandmother, traders, and they travelled around and had extensive connections. The first protests erupted in Oloko in Owerri Province on November 23, 1929. It spread quickly to Aba and certain parts of Calabar province. But it was in Egwanga, now called Ikot Abasi, that the protests came to a head. In the afternoon of Sunday, December 15, 1929, the angry women stormed the buildings of the native court and part of the staff quarters.

“The next day, Monday, December 16, the women were invited to meet with the District Officer, A. R. Whitman. Even though some of the women were reluctant, my grandmother, as their leader, convinced them to go. She reckoned that change could only come after engagement and negotiation. She led the women leaders to meet with Whitman and presented him with a list of seven demands – the most prominent was a commitment from the government not to tax women.

“Just after the document had been typed, signed and distributed, more women arrived, and a crowd surged towards the office breaking through the stick fence. Even though the women were unarmed, Whitman lost his nerve and ordered the soldiers to open fire.

A Captain Hill, who commanded the troops, was the first to fire. He brought out his pistol and shot my grandmother at point blank range. She died on the spot. The other soldiers fired their rifles straight at the women and twenty-five women were killed outright. More women were killed in the ensuing stampede.They were pursued all the way to the waterfront. What a tragic day.

“There was palpable shock that unarmed women who were simply protesting against government policy could have been mowed down in this manner. My father, who was then just 12 years old, was invited to the scene by the British to identify the body of his dead mother. He was inconsolable and was traumatised by that incident. The whole community was in shock. How could this have happened to some of the leading women in the community who were simply exercising their rights of protests!

The government immediately deployed more troops to Ikot Abasi and announced the setting up of a commission of inquiry headed by Donald Kingdom. As to be expected, in its report, the commission described it as a mob action directed at overthrowing the colonial administration and justified the action of the district officer.

“However, the women’s riot had a tremendous impact on the subsequent development of women in the region, and on the colonial administration itself. A number of administrative reforms were introduced in the years following the protests, including appointing some women as Warrant Chiefs. We can therefore say, that this first real resistance movement by the brave Ikot Abasi women was not in vain.

This is the true story as told by someone who should know, who was technically, directly affected, and there is no way that I will doubt the account of Senator Udoma.

His account would have been formed by oral history passed down by family members especially his father, Justice Egbert Udo Udoma, KBE,.

 

Sir Udoma who lived to the ripe old age of 84 was a lawyer and justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court. He was Chief Justice of Uganda from 1963 to 1969. He spent 13 years as a judge on the Supreme Court of Nigeria and was chairman of the Constituent Assembly from 1977 to 1978. He was one of the founding fathers of Nigeria.

 

Udoma was not just a guiding light to many, but also an astute scholar, erudite jurist and great legal mind, and he was one of the “Few Good Men” that Nigeria has ever produced. He could certainly not have lied about going to identify his mother’s lifeless body and the incident of that day.

 

Though the true story of this sad historical incident has been aptly captured in a story, dance and drama by Joseph Edgar aka Duke of Shomolu in one of his works titledUfok Ibaan – the Ikot Abasi Women’s Uprising’, the truth is too bitter for many to swallow, and so it did not trend.

 

But one thing is sure though, soon, very soon, Ikot Abasi will get its rightful pride of place as the town in Nigeria where brave unarmed women were killed in 1929 and the misnomer of “Aba Women Riot” will be finally corrected and the tag “ Ikot AbasiWomen Riot” raised for tourists to come, see and spread the word!

 

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Opinion

In Defence of the 19-Storey Ibom Towers and Gov. Umo Eno’s Audacious Housing Plan

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-By Michael Effiong

-By Michael Effiong

In the last few days, I have been inundated by a barrage of questions “Why is your Governor investing in Lagos?

What is the rationale behind a project like this in Lagos State instead of Akwa Ibom where it will create jobs and empower the local contractors? Why now when people are hungry?

It has been questions galore all referring to the decision of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno to develop a real estate facility in Lagos dubbed “Ibom Towers”

As a trained journalist of over 30 years, I know that today’s media space is filled with misinformation, disinformation and outright lies which are then elevated to trending public discourse by various people for motives that are often not altruistic.

Even a group of Akwa Ibom indigenes decided to host an X (Twitter) Space on the issue. I was on that platform for over two and half hours but it was obvious that none of the speakers had taken time to conduct any research on the said project.

That was when I became very alarmed because the basic foundation for contributing to any intellectual discourse is research, I could not believe that the speakers could not just investigate the matter properly, have a full grasp of the issues before coming to the public forum to not only express their anger against the project but were even contemplating street protest!. They more or less confirmed what I used to consider a myth, that we hardly read as black people.

Anyway, I did not take the hullabaloo seriously until a very well respected senior colleague of mine called in the dead of the night. I was in a state of panic when I picked the call, thinking something major has happened to him or his close ones until he brought up the issue of the Ibom Towers.

I could not believe my ears, I begged for a few seconds to change my position and then went on to lay out the facts of this matter.

I explained that the project was not a bolt from the blue. In fact ,on May 29, 2024 when the Governor delivered his first anniversary speech, he gave a hint about the project.

According to the Governor while laying out his plans for the next 365 days “Government will be active in the commercial property market in both Lagos and Abuja respectively by converting our existing strategic facilities in those cities into commercial use for the benefit of our people. These planned investments in infrastructure will bring huge returns to our State and signpost our determination to play big in the thriving real estate business in those two major cities”

His next words where “You mean he had mentioned his plans in his speech?

I replied “Yes sir, I am quoting the speech verbatim? He then said ‘Even at that, why would your governor leave your state and go all the way to Lagos to buy land and build an 19-storey Towers?

I replied, “ Sir, I hope you are not sleepy because it is a long a story? He responded “You know how I dey carry Akwa Ibom matter for head, give me the full story, I am all ears”.

I then began my defence “ In the first place, the Governor has not come to Lagos to buy any land. The truth is that the 19- storey development dubbed “Ibom Towers” is a child of necessity and an intentional investment. We have a landed property in a very prime location, Victoria Island to be exact. That property used to be our Governor’s Lodge, it is now referred to as the Old Governor’s Lodge. It is a dilapidated structure that has not yielded any single kobo to the state.

“I am not a real estate expert, but as a layman, I would say that the Governor had four options. First, leave the property in its current state and just keep it in the books as a thing of pride, second, outright sale of the property, third, put the property up for lease and fourth, develop the property.

‘The Governor decided to be audacious, instead of doing the ordinary, he chose the tougher but more rewarding fourth option with the decision to add value to that landed property and develop it into a picturesque facility called “Ibom Towers”, this option would ensure that the state still retains the property as well as guarantee return on investment and the funds would be ploughed into critical infrastructure back home in Akwa Ibom in furtherance of his ARISE Agenda.

“Now this Ibom Towers is a development that will feature 30 meticulously designed apartments: Spacious one bedroom units, elegant two-bedroom units and lavish three bedroom units. That is not all, there will be an opulent 4-bedroom duplex penthouse that would have breathtaking views of the Lagos skyline.”

“The contractors handling this development have been given a very strict timeline because the Governor wants to make returns on this investment in good time. I have asked those opposing this development their best option for the use of that prime property. They all usually side step the issue and come up with extraneous matters. But I would not ask you the same sir.

I then continued “ Interestingly, the Ibom Towers is part of the Governor’s overall Housing plan that covers all segments of the property market: Low, middle and high income earners.

“For example, a few weeks ago in Uyo, the Governor laid the foundation of the Ewet Luxury Gardens Estate. It is a high-end, commercial residential estate development. It will consist 32 units of 5-bedroom ensuite fully detached duplexes, 3 living rooms, 3 maid quarters, study/living room, fully fitted kitchen, laundry room and green area. It will be a gated estate with such shared facilities as tennis court, gym, swimming pool facilities etc.

“It was at that Ewet Luxury Estate ground breaking that the Governor spoke about the Ibom Towers. That Estate like the one in Lagos, is aimed at making money for the state. The same template has been adopted for the Dakkada Luxury Estate that was begun by the last administration. So, while he is thinking about making use of the property in Lagos, he is also doing the same at home.

“ I must add, sir, that the Governor has not been oblivious to the need for affordable housing and even shelter for the poorest of the poor.

“The administration in its first year completed the 236-Units Grace Estate and the Governor has approved that 264 more units be constructed. He has also approved that 150 units in the Estate should be exclusively allocated to civil servants from Grade levels 1-8. The allocation will be via a draw which can be entered only once with N50,000. The houses will be given out free of charge.

“Then of course, the Governor has been making waves with his ARISE Compassionate Homes Initiative. This is a unique programme where rural dwellers with very terrible abode are given brand new 2-bedroom fully furnished homes complete with external kitchen, 24-hour solar power and water system free of charge. 200 units of the homes are currently being built. Some have already been completed and handed over to very elated beneficiaries. His target is to deliver 400 Units before the end of his first term

My colleague shouted “Really. That is so impressive ?” Knowing full well that I have caught his attention, I quickly added “ The Governor has done a lot in rural development, healthcare, entrepreneurship…

He cut me off immediately “That is okay, that is okay do not bother, so what is all the fuss about?

My response was “Sir, we would keep educating them to make them see reason, but as you know, one cannot always please the world”. I then reminded him of Evangelist Ebenezer Obey’s famous song “The Horse, The Man and His Son popularly known as Ketekete

“You are so right, you cannot please everyone all the time. Everything is clear to me now. I think he should ignore them and continue his good work. Sorry that I disturbed your sleep,? were his next words.

I responded thus: “I am always at your service sir, we will keep discussing the issues. One thing I know is that our Governor is a private sector- driven technocrat, he would be the last person to take an investment that will benefit his people to any other state. Thank you for calling me to clarify issues, thank you for your patience and love always sir” And I hung up!

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Opinion

Day Dele Momodu Injected Africa With Energy

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By Michael Effiong

It all begun with a phone call. It was one fine morning and I got a call from my former boss, Aare Dele Momodu whom we fondly called Bob Doo.

Before now, when his voice booms at the other end of the line, he would say Editor!!! But these days, since I joined Akwa Ibom State as the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Umo Eno, he has changed it to SSA!!

So when he called that morning, I answered and he told me he that his birthday was fast approaching and he was reflecting that he had just six years to make seventy and just 16 years to 80.

“Do you know, I have just 16 active life remaining in this world if I am lucky?”. I was wondering where he was headed because when my boss goes philosophical like this, get ready for a session of enlightenment about his life, trails and triumphs.

On this particular day, however, all he said was that he was thinking of his legacy and that since he had written many articles on Nigeria and proffered solutions endlessly  without much difference, he was thinking of holding a dialogue or a lecture series, something deep. He had no plans for any party or “feferity” like we used to say.

For me, that was a brilliant idea and I told him so. He then said he believed that with the  epileptic energy situation in Nigeria, South Africa and the return of the worse form of dum so dum so (light on and off) in Ghana, a discourse on the subject will be useful.

We agreed that it was a good plan. Having worked with him for 20 years, I know that when he has a brainwave like that, his adrenaline usually pumps on overdrive-and for some inexplicable reason, lines usually fall in pleasant places for him.

Five minutes later, in a very excited manner, he called back and  announced, “We are good to go! I have just contacted Prof. Barth Nnaji and that day is not only free on his calendar but he has agreed to come.” That was how the first Dele Momodu Leadership Lecture with its theme as “ The Politics Of Energy and The Way Forward” with the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) as venue began.

From that moment on, he began to work the phones, and he usually would not hide any new success story. In less that 20 minutes he has confirmed the Chairman of the occasion and so many of the special guests. He then asked that we set up a small committee of friends and begin to work on this project.

Pastor Lanre Obey (Lansrock), Kingsley James (IDCL), Seyi Orolugbagbe, whom we fondly call Man Seyi, Azuh Arinze, Prince Adeyemi Aseperi, Ian Okudzeto from Ghana, Dr Sani Saidu Baba, Osagie Alfred and Eric Elezuo, our Editor at Ovation International and Supervising Editor of The Boss Newspapers and the only lady in the house, Ms Bola Ojofeitinmi and yours truly were all added to platform as Planning Committee Members.

We all went to work, handling different aspects of the event. Lanre Obey in matter of days delivered the stage design and entire venue plan while IDCL also submitted ideas for the walkway, red carpet and venue branding etc. The show production guru, Edi Lawani was coopted to offer his expertise while Biodun Oshinibosi of Abellinis called to offer his services.Things were taking shape.

Then, in his usual ebullient manner,  Chief Momodu shared the good news that Mr Leke Alder, the one we call the Genuis, has agreed to help with logo and other designs!

After sending through different ideas, we adopted one and the creative force of Alder Consulting  went to work pronto delivering invitations, newspaper adverts and other promotional materials The Alder team came up with the tag name of the event “Intellectual Discourse”. This was efficiency at its best.

There were reservations about using the NIIA, some believed  it was not befitting for his status, but Chief Momodu would have none of it. He argued that NIIA is our equivalent of Chatham House and should therefore be given its pride of place.

“Taking the event out of a formal venue like NIIA, would make it look less serious and intellectual’. He stated firmly.  He then announced that as part of his 64th birthday celebrations he would relay the red carpet at the Main Auditorium and also donate two new air conditioning units.

As the day got closer, Chief Momodu rushed to Ibadan for a few days where he was putting finishing touches to his personal library that would soon be opened. He was on the phone at all times keeping tabs on the planning process.

We had two physical meetings but all the coordination was virtual, and the Executive Producer and celebrant, Momodu was on top of everything.

A day before the event, we were at the venue, and everything was coming to fore. The venue was witnessing a massive transformation.

Then,  news came that Prof. Nnaji arrived  Lagos and was warmly welcomed at the luxurious Delborough Hotel.  We we were all excited and when later that night former President John Mahama landed at the Execujet private jet terminal, we knew that all was set.

On day Day May 16, nature decided to test the clout and connection of Chief Momodu by releasing a heavy downpour. But God took control!

From Governor Ademola Adeleke to former Governor Donald Duke,  Ooni of Ife, HIM Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi to Mr Peter Obi, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso to Hajia Bola Shagaya, Dr. Bobby J. Moore, Consul-General of the Republic of South Africa and his wife to Oluwo of Iwo Land, HIM Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, Mr Olumide Akpata to Senator (Prince) Lanre Tejuoso, AIG Tunji Alapini (retd) to Senator Olubiyi Fadeyi, Erelu Olajumoke Adebola to Mr Kola Karim, Delborough Hotel owner, Dr. Stanley Uzochukwu to Prince Bisi Olatilo, Prince Damola Aderemi to Mr Segun Fatoye, Dr Larry Izamoje to Mr Mike Awoyinfa, Mr Dozy Mmbuosi to Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, Mr Kunle Bakare to Bankole Omishore, Ayo Animashaun of HipTv  to Mr Segun Ogunsanya, MD/CEO, Airtel Africa and so many others all defied the rain and the terrible traffic that occurred that day to grace the occasion.

And to sweeten the day, celebrant’s wife, Yeye Aare Bolaji Momodu and three of his children: ‘Pekan, ‘Yole and Eniafe were there to give him the much needed moral support.

Steered by Dr. Rueben Abati assisted by Mr. Oladele Ogunlana, the Guest Speaker and other commentators not only x-rayed the problems of the energy sector but proffered solution. Guests were also served excellent canapes by Laredo and drinks cum cocktails by  Depotters Limited. It must be said that the intellectual the content of the event itself was top notch.

Interestingly, though the event was an altruistic effort to help governments across the continent ,which was why it was advertised as apolitical with invitations extended to all political affiliations,  members of the All Progressives Party (APC) except for Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi shunned the event!

Describing the event as a vehicle for international diplomacy, Chief Momodu stated in his welcome address that the lecture was his way of igniting a conversation that would  benefit African governments and their people.

Chairman of the occasion, former President John Mahama, who actually solved the energy crisis that engulfed Ghana while he was President said the severe energy deficit on the continent is surmountable.

Drawing from his river of knowledge and bank of experience, President advocated collaboration among countries as well as the willingness to deploy  an energy mix: gas, coal, natural gas and renewable energies such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass as solution.

As for Professor Barth Nnaji, Nigeria can solve its current problem if we make the national grid more robust.

According to Prof. Nnaji “Countries like Nigeria have the responsibility to remind developed nations that much as natural gas is a fossil fuel, it is a transition fuel because of its relative cleanliness. Even lithium-ion promoted as the silver bullet to the climate crisis has serious defects including the fact that it is mined like any other mineral, ipso facto, causes environmental pollution

“While the Nigerian government should be encouraged to explore foreign markets for its resources like natural gas, sight should not be lost on the fact that charity should begin at home. In fact, an emergency has to be declared in the domestic gas market to save the electricity sector.

“The super grid should be given priority to boost national transmission capacity. The Federal Government has to resume signing power purchase agreements (PPAs) with appropriate guarantee instrument to attract private sector investment  so that Nigeria can experience proper economic trajectory like other emerging nations such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa”

He then concluded “ We can achieve these if we have the will power and right frame of mind to change the energy equation. It is now up to us a s a nation”

There were very thought-provoking remarks from Mr. Kola Karim, Ooni of Ife, Alhaji Kwakwanso and Mr Donald Duke.

In all, it would be said that the Dele Momodu Leadership lecture was an energetic shot in the arm that should arouse our sense of purpose, wake African governments from their reverie and ignite them to find solutions to the energy crisis.

 

 

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Opinion

Umo Eno: Taking Rural Development To Dizzying Heights

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N.T.A. Efo

 

Akwa Ibom, blessed with crude oil, gas deposits, agricultural, other natural and human resources; a scenic, beautiful and climatically-favourable landscape; alluring, magical and magnetic destinations; fascinating and exciting people, with a rich variety of nutritionally-rich cuisines is one of the luckiest states in Nigeria.

 

Why? At this time in the history of Nigeria where the populace is groaning under the weight of high inflation and economic hardship, the state has as its Chief Executive, Pastor Umo Eno, a cerebral, clear-headed, tried and tested entrepreneur whose ability to turn poverty to prosperity is second to none. The kind of individual that would be described with the street lingo as ‘Man wey sabi”.

 

In Nigerian politics, there is a seeming lack of fidelity. People take the promises of politicians with a pinch of salt because very few of them have fulfilled their promises after elections.

 

But Pastor Eno who is built from a different mould is a Promise Keeper. He has weaved truth, honesty and simplicity with humility, integrity and hard work, to create a change in people’s perception of people in politics.

 

Since assuming office on May 29, 2023, Pastor Eno has been working like someone who has 25 hours a day. He literally has been everywhere in the state and has steadily been executing his economic blueprint captured in the ARISE agenda, an acronym for Agricultural Revolution, Rural Development, Infrastructural Maintenance and advancement, Security management and Educational advancement.

 

Though Governor Eno has delivered impactful projects in many sectors, we would be highlighting more of what he has done for rural areas and those who live in the rural communities, which we all know make up the bulk of our populace.

 

It has always been his desire to close the gap of development between the urban and rural areas of the state, especially today that connectivity has made the world a global village

 

It was this reason that he appointed 368 Personal Assistants (PAs), with which, according to him, he wants to have his ears and eyes in all parts of the state.

 

As expected, some did not understand the rationale for such appointments but guess what, after the establishment of the Bulk Purchase Agency and the launch of the Food Voucher Scheme, these PAs, who have all been trained and given tablets are the ones disbursing the vouchers using the updated social register and now gathering information real time from the people at the grassroots for other developmental projects.

 

The same PAs and the leaders at the various communities are the vehicles he is using to advocate his “Back To Farm” initiative. The governor believes that since the voucher scheme is a stop gap measure, agriculture is the more sustainable model to feed people, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty in the rural areas.

 

 

Then he announced the one project per local government area programme. What he did was to gather stakeholders from each local government area, and ask them to choose for themselves any project of their choice, ranging from a model school, a model primary health centre, a water scheme or a modern market.

 

The needs assessment for every project was done by the communities themselves, he was therefore attacking their most pressing need and to ensure accountability, he established a Project Monitoring domiciled in the Governor’s office to track progress of these projects. Right now, some of those projects have been commissioned while have reached different stages of construction.

 

At the commissioning of one of the completed primary healthcare centres in Ikot Nkwo, Ibesikpo-Asutan LGA, the Governor reiterated his administration’s vision in this direction..

 

“What we are witnessing here is a great move to bring primary health care closer to the people in line with our ARISE Agenda with emphasis on rural development,” he said.

 

While also commissioning two of the model primary schools in Uyo LGA , he said “we are replicating the model schools in all parts of the state.

 

Also in the health care sector, he has so far given approval for the employment of 200 additional healthcare workers to be deployed to the primary healthcare sector. He has promised fringe benefits for those who would work in the rural areas.

Knowing full well that government cannot do it alone, he has called on corporate bodies and individuals to deliver same quality of schools or health centres as part of their Corporate Social responsibility.

 

It is a known fact that Akwa Ibom state has one of the best network of roads in Nigeria. With the solid foundation built by his predecessors, Governor Eno is also involved in roads.

 

Yes, he has reconstruct roads ravaged by floods or erosion, rehabilitated a good number too but he has intentionally focused on continuing or flagging off roads that are cutting through rural communities or local government areas.

 

Some of these roads include the dualisation of the 8km Ring Road 3 -Ikot Ekpene Road project which passes through Uyo, Ikono and Ibiono Ibom Local Government Areas in three federal constituencies. There is also the 8.6 km Ediene Abak – Ikot Ekan Road which passes through Abak and Etinan LGAs in two federal constituencies.

 

The 16 km Midim Aran -Ikot Inyang -Ikot Akpan Ekpenyong -Etok Uruk Eshiet -Ikot Imonte Road which cuts across Essien Udim and Etim Ekpo in two federal constituencies. The 12.5 km Nung Ukim Ikono -Afaha Obio Eno -Nung Udoe Itak Road which cuts across Uyo and Ikono LGAs in two federal constituencies.

 

While the dualisation of the 11.6km Ikot Imo -Ikot Ekpene Udo -Okon Eket will pass through Nsit Ubium and Eket LGAs in two federal constituencies, Abak, Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo LGAs will benefit from the 16km Ikot Ekang -Obio Obom-Ikot Ekpat -Abak Itenghe -Oruk Ata Nsidung -Midim -Ikot Edang Road with two bridges.

 

The 13.5 km Ikot Akpadem -Okoroete – Iko Road which starts from Mkpat Enin LGA ends at Eastern Obolo LGA. So is the 10.8km Mkpat Enin -Ikot Ekpo -Ikot Afang -Mbioto -Efa Road with a 30m bridge, with a spur to Enyenghe, which passes through Mkpat Enin and Etinan LGAs.

 

There is also the 14.28km Ikot Ubo -Odot Road, through Nsit Atai and Nsit Ubium LGAs, and the 13.5 Okopedi -Oron Road by East-West Road which passes through Okobo and Oron LGAs. There is also the 2.2km Tabernacle Road, with a 0.97m discharge drain which passes through Uyo and Itu LGAs are also in the works. Over 280.93 km have been covered in 365 days!

 

We all know that a good number of our retirees, return to their villages and that is probably one of the reasons that Pastor Umo Eno has kept his promise to the Labour unions to pay leave grants, pensions and gratuities. So far, over N18billion has been approved and released for this purpose.

His love for senior citizens also led to the establishment of the Elderly Support Scheme administered by first lady Pastor Patience Umo Eno’s Golden Initiative For All (GIFA) Foundation which has been offering counseling sessions, cash and over the counter drugs to elders. In addition, the governor is planning a one-of-its-kind, Centre for the elderly with recreational and medical facilities.

His rural development mantra also informed the decision to uplift the vulnerable in the society through the ARISE Shelter Initiative. This unprecedent scheme dubbed the ARISE compassionate homes will in the first phase see 100 families across the 31 LGAs enjoy the benefit of living in new homes.

 

Seeing the hardship passed through by traders to raise finances for business growth and expansion, the Governor approved a N1.5 billion (N500m per Senatorial District) interest-free loan warehoused at the Ibom Fadama Microfinance Bank for them. This is in addition to, having earlier, ‘cleaned up’ the state’s trading hub, Akpan Ndem Market, with road, street lights, borehole water project and toilet facilities.

 

An epitome of prudent management of resources, Governor Eno is one of very few Governors in Nigeria who is yet to obtain any loan. He is value for money driven and has not been known for ostentatious or frivolous expenses.

 

According to him, “Whatever we save is to be put back in the rural areas. Every N500million I save will give me a school, will give me a hospital. I prefer a good first term. It is only when you account for four years that you would be asked to go again.I’d rather put money on rural communities. My job is to make sure that 7.9million people are satisfied ”

 

A very hands-on leader, one minute, he’s in Uyo, the state capital, the next, he’s in Oron in the southern fringes of the state. Some other minute, he’s in Ikot Ekpene, close to the boundary with Abia State. Another time, he’s in Itu, close to the river that gave its name to neighbouring Cross River State. In all the 31 local government areas, his footprints, imprints and signature are etched everywhere in the form of projects and life-touching programmes.

 

Undoubtedly, Pastor Eno’s efforts has ensured that Akwa Ibom is rising steadily. In just one year, there have been a beehive of growth and development in many facets of the people’s lives. And he has added a touch of innovation and panache to it too in a bid that those at the lowest rung of the economic ladder also feel the impact of governance.

Efo writes from Uyo

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