BY TOM MOSES, Uyo
After several years of infrastructural neglect, the people Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State presently have cause to celebrate following the construction of at least, six inter-connected roads in the first phase of the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Oron Urban Renewal Programme.
Oron which was hitherto the nerve centre of maritime activities for the entire Oron Nation comprising Oruefong Oruko, Mbo, Okobo, Odung Uko, and even Calabar, had virtually lost its pride of place and capacity due to deplorable roads that used to connect those places with it for the supply of high quality sea foods at very reduced costs, especially as the use of engine boats to traverse the area was not too fashionable again because of sundry ugly occurrences in the waters.
Pleas by the Oron people to governments to come to their rescue did not seem to receive the required attention and Oron continued to wallow in neglect which escalated to near excision of the once lively city from the rest of the local government areas and communities in Akwa-Ibom State.
It was gathered that the people of Oron had to painfully resort to community self-help to fix some of their roads so as not be totally dislocated from the rest of the world. This was even as the people began to operate as an autonomous zone, not believing again in the existence of government and the possibility of government providing its obligatory functions as well as detested the word, government. But during his numerous campaign visits last year, Governor Emmanuel was said to have been quite avuncular and identified with the plights of the people and promised to transform Oron within his first year in office.
Unfortunately, that promise was cynically dismissed as the usual political talk for which he was almost pelted by the people until he assumed duties and declared Oron an emergency zone. Thereafter he mobilised contractors to immediately work the talk and give the Oron people a sense of belonging.
Apparently, the story of neglect of Oron by governments now belongs to the trash-can of history as a total of six inter-connected roads, namely Mainland Avenue, Mary Annie School Road, Awana Esin Road, Market Road, Efiat Road and Bassey Street, have been constructed in Oron alone in the first phase of his administration’s intervention on roads.
While inspecting the roads to mark Governor Emmanuel’s first one year in office, the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, expressed the friendly disposition and the love of Governor Emmanuel for the people of Oron as denoted by his intervention in fixing the roads as well as intervention in other emergency situations, including the Uya Road Junction Gully.
The commissioner assured that the Oro Nation would never be neglected by the Governor Emmanuel’s administration in the continuous efforts to remodelling Akwa-Ibom State to become the cynosure of Nigerian states. Speaking with the VANGUARD FEATURES, VF, Lady Mary Young commended Governor Emmanuel for keeping his promise to the people by fixing many roads in one swoop and rejuvenating the local government area.
“When we were young, Oron used to be a major city for the supply of seafoods to the South-South and the South-Eastern states and even up to Lagos. From morning till night, Oron used to bubble with social and business activities, youths and women were meaningfully engaged in the jobs those activities could provide just as government was generating revenue from taxes.
But could you imagine that since in the ’80s when Alhaji Shehu Shagari became Nigeria’s President and the late Dr. Clement Isong became Governor of the then Cross River State which now includes Akwa-Ibom State, not one single road was constructed or rehabilitated by government in this area.
“Even when those roads that used to facilitate movement of people to Oron collapsed, government refused to come to the rescue of Oron and eventually, the social and commercial life of Oron became dilapidated until Governor Udom Emmanuel came to our rescue. We thank God for bringing him to Oron and other neglected parts of Akwa-Ibom State,” Lady Young remarked.
Also speaking, Pastor Umoh Bassey expressed appreciation to Governor Emmanuel for his magnanimity to the Oron Nation by salvaging the area from total excision from the rest of Akwa-Ibom State and the world.
“Recall that Oron usually go by the sobriquet, NAMOBA Town because of the presence of NAMOBA International Hotel which used to attract people from far and near and encouraged other social engagements here. But NAMOBA collapsed likewise other social outfits which used to attract people from within and outside Nigeria to Oron because of impassable roads. Today, many businessmen and women are just like babies, while our youths have veered into politics and other emergency lifestyles. So, we thank Governor Udom Emmanuel for coming to open up the area again for business, social and commercial activities.
“He has brought life to the people again, meaning that those who knew Oron for its numerous endowments, not just maritime and seafoods but also for rich tourists locations and timber, will come back for business just as religious activities will bubble,” Pastor Umoh said.
Information Drive, the media hub
The joy of being remembered and included in the provision of roads infrastructure has also overwhelmed the residents of Information Drive, the street housing the state’s owned newspaper outfit, the Pioneer, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, secretariat, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, the Nigerian Communications Commission, Akwa-Ibom State and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, in the state.
Speaking with the VF during the road’s inspection, the Ag. General Manager/Editor-In-Chief of the Pioneer, Mr. Marvellous-Friday Udo, said the construction of the Information Drive speaks volumes of the high regards Governor Emmanuel has for journalists in the state.
“This road has been in an apologetic situation for many years. Even being the hub of the media in the state, this road was impassable for so many years thereby preventing journalists from leaving and arriving at places of events on time. We are happy that Governor Emmanuel has come to work on this road thereby opening the area for development.
“This road is going to provide a diversion from the traffic logjam that embodies the IBB Way, Nsikak Eduok, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, Aka and Aka-Etinan Road. So, he has provided a good and strategic diversion. We therefore commend him and the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen for undertaking to ameliorate the sufferings that the people living and working here used to pass through as if they were not a part of the state”, Mr. Udo noted.
Aside from being the Governor’s community, the Awa/Iman people also experienced decades of neglect by previous administrations in the state both in the provision of road infrastructure and spread of developmental projects. Thus, the speedy construction and completion of the 1KLM Awa/Iman/Ikot Nkang Road with drainage in Onna Local Government Area is seen as a superlative feat by the governor.
Besides, the construction of the 5KM Ikot Usop-Ikot Edeghe-Ikot Ekpuk Road and 30 metres span bridge in Mkpat Enin, Dualization of the 19.5KM Eket-Ibeno Road and the Remodelling of Eket Metropolis Phase 1 and 11 have reached at least, 70 percent completion stages and would be ready for commissioning in September.
Equally, the dualization of the 29KM Etinan-Ndoneyo Road, the construction of the 6KM Idiaba-Nda Nsit-Nung Udoe Road, the 6.1KM Atan Offot in Uyo Local Government Area, the construction of Ring Road 111 outfall drains to Tropicana Complex in Uyo as well as the construction of Nto-Edino-Ekwere Azu Road in Obot Akara Local Government Area are at 90-95 percent completion stages.
It would be noted that the 3.5KM Ikot Udom Road with 15m span bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area has been completed and is awaiting commissioning by Governor Emmanuel.
Already, the people of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area are in high spirit awaiting the arrival of the governor for the road project commissioning.
Receiving the Works Commissioner in his palace during the project inspection, Paramount Ruler of Ibiono Ibom, Okuku Udo Usoro Inyang lauded Governor Udom for fulfilling the promise he made to the people of Ikot Udom during his campaigns that he would commence the constructing of the road within the first 100 days if elected into office.
“To be candid, that promise was like a rhetoric to me because it was not the first time political office seekers would make such promise. But I told him not to worry that we would vote for him whether the road would be constructed or not.
“I am happy that for the first time in recent history, a politician could keep his word. With this development, people are now plying the road 24/7; everywhere is now lively, businesses and commercial activities have come alive, while visitors with diverse interests now throng the community on a daily basis.
“With what I have noticed so far, if Udom serves as governor for eight years, Akwa-Ibom will become something else,” the monarch noted.