Writing on the topic: “Go Tell my God-brother Gov. Udom Emmanuel (2) in the middle of June, 2015, I had said in conclusion: “Governor Udom Emmanuel has inherited a highway that ought to have been given preference over all other highways in Akwa Ibom State, being the one that leads to the nest where the golden egg is laid. This is the highway to Ibeno, Chief Godswill Akpabio kicked off his road construction projects with the Federal highway from Calabar-Itu road to Itam junction. He then continued on the Abak highway from where the previous administration of Arc (Obong) Victor Attah stopped and took it through to Abak. He then followed it from Abak through his local government of Essien Udim to Ikot Ekpene. Up to his final tenure, every intensive highway development was concentrated on linking his Senatorial District with the State capital. A trip around that Senatorial District will show this off….. In all of it, the road to the oil mineral producing area that oils his uncommon transformation became a campaign gimmick only in the second half of 2014, a few months to the next election… And so whatever highway construction may agitate the mind of my God-brother, Governor Udom Emmanuel, the very first priority must be Ikot Oku Ikono-Ikot Ekan-Etinan-Ekpene Ukpa highway to Awa Iman. There shall be a spur at Etinan roundabout (John Kirk Square) through to Eket, ending at Ibeno. This is a role in search of a hero”.
I then welcomed wholeheartedly the news that contract had been awarded for the construction of the road to Ndon Eyo, which passes through Awa Iman, and I wrote about it. Since then work has started from Ikot Oku Ikono, with some spatial demolition of structures here and there.
The crusty novice attempting to raise criticism of an expert, including in the area of highway construction, may end up making a mess of or ridiculing himself. This does not however, preclude raising a doubt where one observes something unusual and uncommon in a process. One had thought that once a highway contractor has been mobilized to start work, it continues systematically to the end. In the work on the highway that starts from Ikot Oku Ikono and ostensibly leading on to Etinan to join the ongoing work towards Awa and on to Ndon Eyo, one observes what I have already termed spatial demolition of structures.
From Ikot Oku Ikono junction there is this pattern of demolition close to Ekom Iman. In Etinan, there is demolition of structures at the right hand side of Ekpene Ukpa Road. On the way to Eket along Hospital Road there is heavy demolition around Etinan Institute which has not spared the Principal’s quarters where Principals hardly inhabit, preferring instead to commute from Uyo. The perimeter fence has been demolished, and the dining hall said to have been built by UNESCO in the 70s has been partially touched, so has my dormitory, Ekaluo House.
By way of digression, who takes the compensation for structures demolished in Etinan Institute, originally owned by the Qua Iboe Mission/Church, since the original owners now truncated, would rather preserve a name while the body of the entity is fast undergoing putrefaction? Who takes compensation for the Qua Iboe Mission Bookshop at John Kirk Square, which assumed an identical pattern wherever the Mission built one all over today’s Akwa Ibom State, in Igbo, Igala and Bassa lands? So long a digression!
On demolitions, town talk is that quite unlike what was paid as compensation to property owners along Abak-Ikot Ekpene Road, for instance, and along Itam-Ikot Ekpene Road, their counterparts along other roads are getting far less, that these structures are demolished as soon as the non-commensurate compensations are paid, perhaps to eliminate the possibility of outcries by aggrieved owners in case they would want to seek redress. I have, however, watched the Works Commissioner on television recently, and his mien and clarity seemed to belie such allegation. I may have been carried away by his elocution.
The staccato manner in which this construction in carried out so far has prompted the satirical question whether our dear governor will be doing hop-step-and jump (which they now call triple jump) from Ikot Oku Ikono to get to Awa Iman Ibom. This may well be as, on my first trip to Awa Iman since he became Governor, I found that the road to his palatial mansion from the Awa roundabout has been dualized and lighted, giving the impression that indeed one has come within the “radiance of the king”.
This after-a-long-while trip was occasioned by the funeral of Elder Dr. Effiong Solomon Effang, member of the Standing Committee of our Church, United Evangelical Church (QIC). He was an Udom Emmanuel activist and Co-founder of Akwa Ibom Ambassadors Forum (AKAF).
On a final note, a sage had counseled that the surest way to peal a sack of potatoes is to take one at a time and peal it. It seems to some that in the area of roads and highways construction, including other sectors such as industrialization, Governor Udom Emmanuel seems to have taken on too much at a time this era of recession. He should heed the age-old Latin dictum: Festina Lente – make haste slowly. These are the words of a chronological Elder.
* Eno Ikpe wrote in from Etinan. He can be reached via email@example.com, 08023560727