By Ekemini Simon
Connected Development (CODE), a non-governmental organization with a mission to empower marginalized communities in Africa has expressed readiness to partner Ewet Offot Community for the gully menace affecting the community to be addressed.
The partnership deal was struck during the weekend when CODE paid the community leadership a courtesy call.
In his remarks, the State Team Lead of Connected Development, Comrade Ubong Ekpe said the organisation will provide the community with relevant data and media platforms they will use to engage the government for their gully concerns to be addressed.
Ekpe said “Information is power. You need to use accurate data to engage the government. We assure you that we are there to provide you with the data and also show you where to find it.
” You also need to be familiar with the provisions of the budget and use it for your engagement. Ask necessary questions. The community needs to be more interested in how the gully menace will be solved. We also want the community members to be involved in the advocacy. We will not be the only ones pushing for your problems to be solved.”
The State Team Lead also called on the community to seek for more collaboration with different tier of government especially on the utilisation of ecological funds.
He said while the organisation will work together with the community to ensure the gully project for the community is captured in the 2024 citizens budget, key stakeholders such as the Council Chairman and State House of Assembly member will be engaged .
Earlier, the Village Head of Ewet Offot Community, Elder Ben John, noted that the gully crisis aggravated when the government neglected early warning signs as flood water from Ewet Housing Estate among nearby communities found its way to the community without proper drains.
John decried that the Ewet community was not integrated into the Ewet Housing Estate as originally planned stressing that if that had happened, probably more attention would have been given to the gully when it started.
He added “When the housing corporation was brought here to acquire that area, they told us that this part of Ewet was going to be integrated into the Ewet Housing Estate. The development done in Ewet Housing will be done here simultaneously. We have been disturbed that the Housing Estate has been developed up to a city standard but this other side is not.
“The government just demacate and made a boundary, pushing us to this place without any single street or road considered for tarring or drainage.
“Nung Offiong and Orok close are being eaten deep by erosion. People’s houses are swept away easily. It started in Udo Inwang street. Even Government House is not secured including Cardinal Ekanem. More houses are falling into the ravine. Where do we relocate to? Where are the resources to build?”
The Village Head commended Governor Umo Eno for visiting the area but called on the government to immediately start intervention so that the ravine will not grow bigger hence become a more difficult project.
He thanked Connected Development for the interest and the support to the community and expressed determination to partner the organisation.
On his part, the Youth President of the Community, Joseph Oyoh, said although the gully was captured by Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) as an area that needs urgent intervention, he was concerned that the community was not prioritized.
Oyoh, who said the gully then was only 30 metres away from the residents of the former Village Head has grown wider and deeper by the day.
He said although the gully at Etim Umana street was prioritized, it was time NEWMAP revisit the Ewet Offot Community gully.