By Chioma Onuegbu
OFFI UDA—THE traditional head of Offi Uda community, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Clement Ekuwem, has complained about the deplorable condition of roads in his area, lamenting that five former governors of the old Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, failed to complete the Offi-Enwang Etebi access road despite continued appeals by the people.
How God used Akpabio
Dr. Ekuwem told NDV at his palace: “Lack of roads in my community has been of great concern to me from the time I become a civil servant. When you cannot get out with your goods and bring in goods into your community, you are like an island. And God did not make any person or group of persons to be an island. Some have even died because of the impassable roads we have.
“I had contacted many governments beginning from the then Cross River State governor, Colonel Dan Archibong (rted), Colonel Tunde Ogbeha (retd), Obong Akpan Isemin and Obong Victor Attah, who actually visited Offi. God in His infinite mercy made government sympathetic to our cries. May God bless Senator Godswill Akpabio. He awarded the contract for the building of this road and bridge in 2007, but government has not yet completed the project.
Dep Gov, Work Commissioner re-assures community
“So just last week, I visited the Deputy Governor, who also invited the Commissioner for Works to the meeting at the Deputy Governor’s office. And that meeting revealed that the work has been 60 per cent executed remaining 40 per cent. Both the deputy governor and commissioner for works assured us that the work will not be abandoned and that it will be huge waste of public funds to abandon a project that is 60 per cent executed when 40 per cent can be added for its completion.”
Our second headache
Continuing, he said that the second urgent and important request of the people was for the government to take over the Uda Community Secondary School, adding: “We did apply and government sent people to inspect the school and I am told in confidence that it has reached the governor’s table and awaiting endorsement and approval. The school was built and serviced by the community since 1989. It is too much for us now to continue servicing it, which is why we are pleading with the government to take it over. We want action to be expedited so that the school can start from this academic session because mercy delayed is like mercy denied us.”
Ekuwem hinted: “I did say there at the meeting that the fault is partly ours because we have been silent for long. And that silence is because we are sympathetic and cooperative with government. Times are hard, we appreciate but as the saying goes ‘tough men will always outlive tough times’. Develop people educationally and you are in the position to develop anything else that can be developed.
Renewed appeal: “So government should please cast their eyes of sympathy on us because we have suffered tremendously. Many people world over have said that education is the best thing we can give to our children. So we value seriously the development of our people educationally. Therefore, we need a good secondary education and we ask government to help us so that we can give our people quality education,” he said.
NDV observed during our visit that movement on the Offi Uda community was difficult, as no vehicle can access it with the deep gully that has almost cut off the motorway. Most of the villagers, who spoke to our reporter, urged Governor Udom Emmanuel to make history by completing the road.
Impassable when it rains
Contacted, the Community Liaison Officer of Offi Uda, Mr. James Okon, asserted: “Apart from the remedial work done under the bridge, the river had almost cut the road about three weeks ago such that even pedestrians could not use the road. In fact, the whole place was eaten up. Even now, when it rains, nobody passes this road. We are concerned and want Governor Emmanuel to come to our rescue.”