IKOT EBIDANG- A COMMUNITY leader from Ikot Ebidang, Onna Local Government Area, Obong Sunny Udonsek, has disclosed how some Americans connived with Nigerians to loot and abandon a rice project in the area.
Obong Udonsek, who spoke in an interview with Niger Delta Voice, lamented that lack of basic infrastructure was a major problem hindering development in the community and enumerated expectations of the people Governor Udom Emmanuel, who hails Onna.
By Chioma Onuegbu
You pointed out recently that flooding is a major problem facing your community, has government attention been drawn to the situation?
We have representation in government and everywhere and on our part, on several occasions, we have tried to draw government’s attention to this problem through publications and all that but unfortunately, over the years, government never did anything.
However, this time around we are hoping and trusting that the governor, who is our own son, will do something about it. Our people are worried over what we pass through here because of flooding.
Apart from the flooding menace, what other things do you expect the present administration to do to benefit your community now that an Onna indigene is the governor of the state?
Well, we know what happens when people elect people to represent them. In most cases, some people misrepresent their people. I think the governor is not representing Onna alone. In a larger context, he represents the entire Akwa Ibom state.
However, Onna expects its own fair share of whatever accrues to the state. Because the governor is from here, and of course, as they say, charity begins at home, I am confident that the governor will always remember where he comes from, and he will not forget that this is also time for Onna to benefit from the dividends of democracy. Therefore, we expect Onna to benefit more than it has benefited from other administrations.
You know the governor has made industrialization the major agenda of his administration, in your own opinion, what kind of industry should be located in Onna?
Onna is an oil producing community, so we will demand an oil refinery here. That would not mean that we are asking for too much, but at the same time we want to have an investment, a project that will employ our teeming idle youths, which will also help to open up Onna, and expand Onna into a metropolitan town.
What I am saying is that we want an industry that will create wealth. That is the kind of industry our people are looking for, we are not looking for white elephant project or a type of industry that will drain our people, but one that will generate wealth, create massive jobs for the people of this community.
Talking about industries that can create wealth, employment, what actually happened to the Rice farm that was located in this community sometime ago?
The rice farm is not on the ground at all. People looted it and ran away with the loot. It never yielded anything in the first instance.
I think what the government has to do really, if they have to do something in that direction is to come in to reactivate it. That is not to say that it is the kind of industry we are expecting the governor to give us. The rice project was never completed. What happened is that the people started it and abandoned it, maybe they needed to take away cash, you know.
The Americans came; connived with some Nigerians, took away the cash, and at the end of the day dumped the project. The equipment brought in rusted away and are still there rusting, so that is where we are as far as the rice project is concerned.
As a respected community leader, are you satisfied with performance of local government administration?
You see local government administration is the third tier of government that is supposed to represent the grassroots.
However, over the years, the rural areas have not really felt the effect of the third tier of government. It is just an avenue to share the national cake, where people come, make money and go away.
Local government has never embarked on a 1-kilometre road, they have never tarred 1 kilometre of road in Akwa Ibom state and they cannot tell us that they do not receive up to NI billion in their entire tenure of three years, and nobody has thought of using N10 million to tar 1 kilometre road for the people.
They cannot construct even culverts, so I see local government administration is another medium of paying salaries, collect money on behalf the people and share among themselves. It does not touch the actual populace in the area and for me, it does not make sense, all the same, they should not scrap it, at least for security reasons. Aside from that, it has no benefit whatsoever to the communities.