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INTERNATIONAL WORSHIP CENTRE: IS FESTUS ADEDAYO ALSO AMONG THE WIZARDS? – ANIETIE USEN

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ADEDAYO

Segun Ayobolu, respected journalist, author and perfect gentleman is my contemporary in what used to be called the Lagos-Ibadan press axis. Festus Adedayo, another journalist and media consultant, belongs to the same axis but is little known to my generation of editors.

There is however a fine thread that connects Ayobolu and Adedayo. They have shared some long standing friendship, dining and wining together in the process. In fact, Ayobolu was a generous benefactor of Adedayo at a point and gave him quite some professional and material push in times of need.

In January 2022, Ayobolu, now the Editor-At-Large of the Nation Newspaper, had a reason to write about Adedayo, in the Premium Times, the most respected Online Newspaper in Nigeria. It was a write-up that many passed for a testimonial, truthfully testifying to Adedayo’s character.

In the curious testimonial, Ayobolu made reference to Adedayo’s “proclivities for misdirected mischief”. He questioned his “character and moral integrity” having “served as a media aide for eight years in an administration accused of some of the worst forms of corruption and violence against opponents” in Nigeria.

It is against this backdrop that the recent media outlash by Adedayo against Akwa Ibom people, the former Governor Udom Emmanuel and his successor, Governor Umo Eno, can be understood and appreciated. Obviously, from what he wrote about Akwa Ibom, the 53-year old journalist has “proclivities for misdirected mischief”. Not only that, Adedayo, with due respect, tends to also exhibit additional proclivities for dishonesty, intemperate language and disrespect for facts.

The first thing that struck me about Adedayo’s write-up was the indecency and gracelessness of his language. Right from the first sentence of his write-up about the International Worship Centre, ICWC, published in The Cable, a respected online newspaper, on January 7, 2023, Adedayo, for no just cause, labelled Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State as “a self-styled pastor”.

I was instantly alarmed because I knew from experience that this writer either lacked relevant communication skills or was all out to do a demolition job or both.

“Self-styled” is a hyphenated compound word that refers to someone who gave a title to himself. Adedayo did not bother to crosscheck and ascertain the fact that Governor Eno is not “a self-styled pastor”, but a publicly ordained pastor of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, TACN, since 2003, before he founded the All Nations Christian Church International, which is still an affiliate of the TACN?

Adedayo went ahead in other parts of his worship centre story to run rampage against Governor Eno and former Governor Emmanuel, describing both gentlemen severally as “charlatans” and “enemies of the people” for no other cause than building a worship centre for the State. Unwisely, Adedayo, in the process also left many trails as a man with strong links and in the firm grip of haters of former Governor Emmanuel and Governor Eno.

I will return to that later. For now, it would appear that Adedayo’s outlash was not really aimed at the worship centre per se, as it was a personal attack on Emmanuel and Eno, through the backdoor of the worship centre.

More sobering for me was the massive insults that Adedayo heaped on Akwa Ibom people. He said repeatedly that Akwa Ibom citizens are house boys and house girls and “the most sought after candidates for menial jobs of gatemen and house-helps…in slavish captivity in many homes across Nigeria”.

If it is true, as some people say, that Adedayo was paid by Akwa Ibom enemies of Udom and Eno to do the dirty job, I would suggest they ask Adedayo for a refund. This is because Adedayo obviously dropped the ball. He went beyond the brief he got and stooped low to insult every Akwa ibom person, including his paymasters. He bungled the job. They hired the wrong hand, who fumbled and forgot that the free education policy introduced by former Governors Victor Attah and Godswill Akpabio, had turned the tide in favour of Akwa Ibom children who were in “slavish captivity”.

According to Adedayo: “aside (sic) unemployment”, Akwa Ibom is buffeted with “prostitution, cultism, vandalism, political thuggery and hooliganism…”. Of course, many would reject Adedayo’s opinion as too far from the facts and devoid of the truth on ground. Akwa Ibom, to the contrary, is a renowned oasis of peace and serenity in Nigeria, voted for six consecutive years now as the cleanest State in Nigeria by the National Technical Study Group (NTSG).

Not only that, Akwa Ibom State has been named as one of Africa’s Cleanest subnationals, as reported by The Cable online newspaper. In a listing tagged “Top African Cleanest Cities, 2022” by the highly influential on-line site “Inside Africa”, which tracks environmental and tourism issues, Akwa Ibom State was the only state in Nigeria named in the report. The report also listed Kigali, the Rwandan Capital as a top African Cleanest City alongside, Cape Town, South Africa, Tunis, Tunisia, Port Luis, Mauritius, Johannesburg, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Kumasi, Ghana, Gaborone, Botswana. Dares Salaam, Tanzania, and Windhoek, Namibia.

“The listing of Akwa Ibom State in the report is a manifestation of the great developmental strides, especially in tourism and infrastructure, and the huge resources expended by the Governor Udom Emmanuel led- administration in preserving the environment and making the State livable and free of environmental hazards,” The Cable quoted a government official to have said in reaction to the report.

I would advise Adedayo to check out the Nigerian Security Index in the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA. In that index, Akwa Ibom is rated as “one of the most peaceful States in Nigeria”. Without a doubt therefore, Adedayo did a great disservice to Akwa Ibom, and even for Nigeria, with his jaundiced story.

Turning attention to the worship centre, Adedayo described it as a product of ‘religious bigotry”. What is bigotry? Bigotry against who? Akwa Ibom State is 99.80 percent Christians. In fact, the name of the State in English means Almighty God’s State. So bigotry against who? Or is it bigotry against witches, wizards and Atheists, which Adedayo took sides with for challenging the construction of the worship centre in the court? Is Adedayo also among the wizards?

I suggest that Adedayo should leave the battle to the witches, wizards and atheists. The rest of Akwa Ibom is on the Lord’s side and deserves a central interdenominational and united Altar for their God. I don’t want to belabour the spiritual, economic and social benefits of such a world classworship centre. Suffice it to mention the recent remark of Wills Phlise Wills, the CEO of Wills Nigeria Limited and a Niger Deltan from Delta State: “The way this Akwa Ibom is going is beyond a State. Akwa Ibom behaves like a nation of their own. Am proud of them”. This was in reaction to my post on the same, ICWC, that Adedayo vilified.

In Adedayo’s condescending story, he also wrote about “self complex” and insinuated it was the reason for the worship centre. He compared Akwa Ibom with “a man who is buffeted by a huge self complex and tries to impress others by doing the unthinkable”.

Yes, I agree with Adedayo that Akwa Ibom is doing the unthinkable as Wills pointed out. But is this gentleman suggesting that the Nest of Champions Stadium, built by former Governor Godswill Akpabio, the only FIFA approved Stadium in Nigeria, a product of complex or that Ibom Air, the best Airline in Nigeria in various categories, initiated by former Governor Emmanuel is a product of complex or that the Airport itself, some of the finest hotels and road networks in Nigeria put in place by former governors Victor Attah, Akpabio and Emmanuel, are all products of complex?

If all these world class projects that Akwa Ibom is now renowned for, are the products of complex, we love this complex and will urge Akwa Ibom to suffer more from this type of beautiful self complex so that the future generations of Akwa Ibom people will not remain in “slavish captivity in many homes across Nigeria”.

Perhaps the worst part Adedayo treaties was his sweeping fallacies of generalisation and gross disrespect for facts or both. He compared the ICWC with the Yamoussoukro Basilica in Ivory Coast and rushed to the conclusion that it is a “similar edifice”. Similar?

Here are the fact about the two worship centres and how “similar” they are. The Basilica of Our Lady Of Peace in Yamoussoukro was built in the remote, deserted, rural birthplace of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the first president of Ivory Coast, accounting for its near desolation. The ICWC, which I nicknamed “Akwa Ibom Basiilca” in a detailed features I wrote for Thisday Newspapers, is built in the centre of the State capital, sandwiched between the sprawling Banking District, the 21-storey Dakada Towers, the tallest building in South-South Nigeria, the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment complex, the Unity Park, the Ibibio Museum, the 10-Lane Ring Road, with the Nest of Champions and the five-star Ibom Icon Hotel & Golf Resort, just a few minutes drive away. How similar are the two edifices?

The Yamoussoukro Basilica, listed by the Guiness Book of World Record as the largest Church in the world, has a capacity for 18,000 worshipers, inside the main hall, while the esplanade can accommodate a crowd of 300,000. Akwa Ibom Basilica has a capacity 5,000 worshippers only. How similar are the edifices?

The Yamoussoukro Basilica is 158 metres tall and a look-alike of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, while the Akwa Ibom Basilica is 49.36 meters tall, with a distinctive, original and uncommon architectural shape and features. How similar are the edifices? The Yamoussoukro Basilica is a single denomination cathedral for Catholic Church, while the Akwa Ibom Basilica is an interdenominational facility, providing a befitting place for religious type events and a podium that is sizable enough to host international conferences.
How similar are the edifices?

Comparing Yamoussoukro Basilica with Akwa Ibom Basilica, as a cover to insult Akwa Ibom respected and cherished leaders, shows how limited Adedayo’s knowledge of the two Basilicas are.

Furthermore, Adedayo misinformed and disinformed Nigerians, nay the global community by outrageously claiming that “the worship centre is said to have gulped a frighteningly N32billion”. “Said to have”? Who “said” it “to have gulped”? Can Adedayo name one authentic source, who gave him this humongous amount or is it just a figment of his imagination?

Let’s be serious, Mr. Adedayo! If N32billion l frightens you for a world class public facility that is a delight to the owners, what did N109billion pocketed recently by one corrupt man in government do to you? Killed you? As Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Lands, Retired Captain Iniobong Ekong said recently when an Uyo based community newspaper criticised the government for spending “a whopping N10billion” on the project: “What are they talking about? Are they saying that N10billion is too much for God”?

Perhaps, part of Adedayo’s misgivings stems from what he himself referred to as “envy” in his story. Yes, it is a fact that success sometimes breeds envy. But it is better to be envied than to be pitied. Akwa Ibom has been pitied enough for 36 years. Akwa Ibom cannot fold its arms any longer and sit idle anymore, so that it would not be envied by sulking politicians and their media consultants like Adedayo. Akwa Ibom is arising even higher to be envied never to be pitied.

Which brings me back, in conclusion, to the subject of media consulting job, which seems to be at the root of Adedayo’s onslaught against Akwa Ibom. I am not against media consultancy. “Man must wack” as we say it colloquially in Nigeria.

But Adedayo, who is known to have been scheming for a media role in the National Assembly since the 8th Senate, must note that media consultancy is sometimes like diplomacy. It must be graceful. It is, as they say it, the arts of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that he would look forward to the journey.

Not brash or rash. Nor referring to President Tinubu, as a “serial forger” of certificates, as Adedayo did recently, not minding the fact that he worked for President Tinubu’s company in the past.

Without doubt, I respect the claim by Adedayo on his social media profiles to be a man with “inexplicable anger”. It is a perfectly legitimate idea to be “inexplicably angry”. Yes, be angry; but sin not, as the Holy Book says.

I look forward to hosting Adedayo in Akwa Ibom at his earliest convenience.

 

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Opinion

ENHANCING FOOD SECURITY: GOVERNOR UMO ENO’S WORTHY INTERVENTIONS

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By Michael Effiong

Today, the biggest threat to the survival of mankind is food security. Indeed, the phenomenon has taken a global dimension and is not confined to the borders of any nation.

 

Growing hunger has been fueled by a toxic mix of climate change, insecurity and a global economic crisis that has exacerbated poverty and inequality, affecting the ability of many families and communities to cope.

 

In Nigeria, at least in the last few months, there is no topic that has been more discussed than that of the rising cost of food stuff and the hunger in the land.

 

As US President John F. Kennedy once said, “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.” This is a war that must be fought with vigor and won.

 

On his visit to Niger State on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu called on states to support the federal government’s effort in the area of agriculture and food security.

Interestingly, long before this call by Mr. President, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno has already taken action.

 

How? Well, you can call him the modern day Nostradamus and will not be wrong. It was not that he was clairvoyant but we can adduce it to his power of vision because agriculture was one of his focus areas even before his overwhelming victory at the polls on March 18, 2023.

 

The then candidate Umo Eno had developed an economic blueprint for his campaign dubbed the ARISE Agenda. A of the A-R-I-S-E stands for Agricultural Revolution.

 

Having had this as part of his economic blueprint, it is no wonder that the Umo Eno administration had already hit the ground running and has been laying out plans, programmes and projects that are worthy of emulation in a bid to stem the tide of the current national crisis.

Perhaps what can be described as the most impactful and innovative intervention in the area of food sufficiency and sustainability in the country at the moment was signed into law on Thursday, March 14, 2023 as the Akwa Ibom State Bulk Purchase Agency which aims at ensuring that staple foods are available, accessible and affordable to the most vulnerable in the state.

 

Everyone knows that implementing this kind of programme can be herculean, but the government set up a committee with a well-laid out plan to ensure this works efficiently.

 

This programme, like others the Governor has initiated, would be devoid of any political coloration. Already, government has met with traders and market associations. Foodstuff agents will be selected and trained.  They would all sign an agreement with government and would be the ones to operate branded shops and redemption centres that will be located in selected markets and points across the 31 LGAs.

 

The Agency would use a voucher system akin to the Food Stamps now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the United States.

 

The Akwa Ibom equivalent when deployed, will operate in a similar fashion because it would be strictly for vulnerable indigenes who will exchange the monthly vouchers for staple food items.

 

The beneficiaries would get direct subsidies as they would pay well-discounted prices to the agents for the value of the food item on each voucher. The accredited agents would later present these vouchers to government for reconciliation and reimbursement.

 

Furthermore, the Governor’s 368 Personal Assistants in the wards are to help implement the programme at the grassroots while names of all agents and beneficiaries ( drawn from the state social register which had recently been updated) would be published.

 

It is expected that from this arrangement and involvement of many stakeholders, the Agency’s mandate would be delivered within a short period of time.

 

Knowing full well that the Agency’s work is a short term measure, Governor Eno is also thinking long term and has started preaching the “Back-To-Farm” message. His goal is to inspire Akwa Ibomites from all walks of life to see the benefits of farming.

 

In his words: “Please everybody, no matter how small your land is even if it is just behind or beside your house, sow something. We must return to the farm”

 

Let us cast our minds back to what used to be the norm back in the day. Our parents and grandparents used to have little farms around the house where green vegetables, tomatoes, pepper, okra, maize, yams, cassava e.t.c. were grown. Some even reared chickens and goats too.

 

Many may see this as a call to subsistence farming in today’s technologically-advanced world, but in truth, if we are able to grow a few of what we eat, it will not only reduce the hunger in the land in a matter of months, but it will free up funds for people to use for other things.

 

This initiative by the Governor for rural and urban dwellers to go back to the farm is already being practiced by other countries to boost their food supply. It is called urban farming.

 

Countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada and China are way ahead and have incorporated this into their urban planning and city regeneration projects.

 

A good example of the success of this initiative is the city of Rosario in Argentina. Rosario’s Urban Agriculture Programme (Programa de Agricultura Urbana, or PAU) started small, but now grows nearly 2,500 tons of food each year. What started as a means of feeding the population in the wake of an economy in tatters is now a cornerstone of the city’s food sustainability initiative. This shows that the Governor’s call is a much needed step in the right direction.

Also, the government has commenced Phase II of the AK Cares Programme. Beneficiaries across the 31 LGAs would get farm implements, seedlings, poultry birds or fish juveniles and adequate training.

The Ministry of Agriculture is also being galvanized to distribute improved seedlings and support agriculture cooperatives to help increase their productivity. And the Ibom FADAMA Microfinance Bank has been restructured in line with the present realities.

That is not all, the Governor who takes the welfare of the citizens seriously also signed the Akwa Ibom State Agricultural Loans Law (Amendment) Bill, a private member bill sponsored by Hon. Mfon Idung. The law has increased the amount to be granted as loans to individual farmers, corporate entities and cooperative societies  and would enable them expand their operations, embrace modern farming techniques, boost productivity and ultimately, drive economic transformation.

 

It is worth mentioning also that Governor Eno’s people-centred intervention strategy also includes a rejuvenation of the rural communities through construction of rural roads and provision of key amenities. This idea is well captured in R (Rural Development) of the ARISE Agenda. The nexus between rural development and agriculture are as inseparable as a set of conjoined twins!

This school of thought concerning the importance of rural development as a way of boosting agriculture is also held by former Agriculture & Rural Development Minister and current President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina.

He expressed these sentiments most succinctly while delivering his acceptance speech on his conferment with the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership in Lagos recently.

According to him “Nigeria must completely transform its rural economies to ensure food security for all. A better Africa must start with the transformation of rural economies. That is because some 70% of the population live there. Rural poverty is extremely high. At the heart of transforming rural economies is agriculture, the main source of livelihoods.

“As a young student who attended high school in the village, I witnessed the high correlation of agricultural performance with education. “It was common then to hear the phrase “Agbe lo ba” . (farmers are kings), uttered with great pride

“The transformation of rural economies must therefore be structural, systemic, strategic and comprehensive. Doing so, means agriculture must be turned into a wealth creating sector. Sound public policies transform the lives of people”.

No one can dispute the need for sound policies as enunciated by Dr. Adeshina and this is reason as an ardent advocate of agribusiness and with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 in mind, the Governor’s earliest move in the agricultural sector on assumption of office was to sign an MOU with Songhai Farms for the development of Ibom Model Farms.

 

This long-term partnership is aimed at driving a technologically-driven agricultural revolution that will boost food production, tourism, youth development, knowledge transfer and job creation.

 

While construction has already begun at the first farm located in Nsit Ubium LGA (others will spring up when LGAs make land available), the Governor has shown his seriousness for this project by sponsoring some youths on training programmes in preparation for the Farm’s take off.

With all hands already on deck and machinery put in motion to operationalize the multi-layered approach initiated by the Gov. Umo Eno-led administration, the indigenes of Akwa Ibom State are soon going to heave a sigh of relief. Not only would the issue of high cost of foodstuff be history but food sufficiency would become the new normal in the state.

 

 

.Effiong, a journalist, is Senior Special Assistant (Lagos) to Governor Umo Eno

 

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps what can be described as the most impactful and innovative intervention in the area of food sufficiency and sustainability in the country at the moment was signed into law on Thursday, March 14, 2023 as the Akwa Ibom State Bulk Purchase Agency which aims at ensuring that staple foods are available, accessible and affordable to the most vulnerable in the state.

 

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Opinion

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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Metro

Security Concerns in Akwa Ibom: A Closer Look at the Alleged Attempt on Senator Bassey’s Life

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The peaceful atmosphere of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, has been disrupted by recent security concerns, particularly surrounding the alleged attempt on the life of Senator Bassey.

The incident has raised alarm bells and prompted a closer examination of the security situation in the state. This article delves into the facts surrounding the incident, highlighting the potential implications for the region and the urgent need for heightened security measures.

The Alleged Attempt on Senator Bassey’s Life:

On a fateful evening last week, Senator Bassey narrowly escaped a potentially fatal incident when unknown assailants attacked his convoy on a busy highway in Akwa Ibom State. According to eyewitnesses, armed men ambushed the convoy, opening fire and creating a chaotic scene.

Quick-thinking security personnel swiftly responded, repelling the attackers and ensuring Senator Bassey’s safety. While the motive behind the attack remains unclear, it has ignited concerns about the overall security situation in the state.

Implications for Akwa Ibom:

The alleged attempt on Senator Bassey’s life has sent shockwaves throughout Akwa Ibom State, causing anxiety among residents and raising questions about the safety of public figures and citizens alike. The incident highlights the potential vulnerability of political leaders, who play pivotal roles in shaping the state’s future. If left unaddressed, such security threats could undermine the peace and stability that Akwa Ibom State has long enjoyed.

Examining the Security Situation:

In response to the incident, security agencies have launched investigations to identify the perpetrators and unravel the motives behind the attack.

The state government, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, has reiterated its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.

They have called for calm while urging residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities or individuals to the appropriate authorities.

The Need for Heightened Security Measures:

The alleged attempt on Senator Bassey’s life emphasizes the urgent need for enhanced security measures in Akwa Ibom State.

This incident should serve as a wake-up call, prompting authorities to reevaluate and strengthen security protocols to safeguard the lives and well-being of all residents.

This includes bolstering intelligence gathering, increasing police presence, and improving communication and coordination among security agencies.

Engaging the Community:

Maintaining security requires a collective effort from both the government and the community.

It is crucial to foster a strong partnership between security agencies and the people of Akwa Ibom State.

Citizens should actively participate in community policing initiatives, sharing information, and supporting efforts to prevent criminal activities.

By fostering a culture of collaboration and vigilance, the community can become a formidable force against security threats.

Conclusion:

The alleged attempt on Senator Bassey’s life has brought the security concerns in Akwa Ibom State into sharp focus.

It serves as a reminder that no one is immune to the challenges posed by criminal elements.

However, this incident also presents an opportunity for the state to revitalize its security apparatus, adopting proactive measures to counteract threats and preserve the peace and prosperity of Akwa Ibom.

By addressing the security concerns head-on, authorities can reassure the public and ensure a safe environment for all residents and visitors to the state.

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