Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Akwa Ibom @28: Our 10 plagues BY PRISCILLA CHRISTOPHER


The news about Akwa Ibom State being a year older today has gone virile before now to the nooks and crannies of the state and country at large with mixed reactions greeting it from every sphere it is mentioned. 28 years ago, the state was born out of the desire for its founding fathers to have a place they can call their own, not just for themselves but for the good of future generations as well. Today, 28 years on, the state has manifested this dream of its founding fathers. We can now boast of a place to call our own; a place we can run to and be sheltered in times of storm, and a place of our heritage. Akwa Ibom State has as a matter of truth gone through several death valleys, murky waters and troubled times to become victorious and strong. Numerous internal and external setbacks have been on its way of progress yet, triumph has always been sure.

This is not to say however that the state has been all-powerful all the way. Much as it has been insurmountable in the face of some trying times, it has also shown helplessness in cases needing immediate intervention. Although the lag in such cases can be attributed to those who were at the fore of power at such times, the fact remains that the state has suffered setbacks intermittently and sadly enough, on recurring issues. 
One of the plagues which have continued to befall Akwa Ibom State is that of bad roads. It is indisputable that despite our celebration today, our major roads are no longer motorable and it poses a thought as to what we are celebrating; bad roads? Except the Governor and his entourage would avoid taking some routes, they are sure to find themselves stuck in one damaged road in the course of their movements. Major roads like IBB Avenue, Four-Lane, Udo-Eduok Street, Ukana-Offot, Esuene Street, Itam Park Road, Nsentip Street, Okokon Etuk, Urua Ekpa road, Urua Ekpa via Anwa Ansa, Udo Street, Eka Street, Ebong Street, among others have become nightmares. Hardly will one tour these routes without getting a hard hit on the head or shoulder or, being frustrated by the rickety of the short journey which has been made long by the damaged road.
Sadly, these roads have remained deplorable year after year with a new government coming to see nothing wrong with it. In some cases, the management approach is usually employed through the filling of red earth in these broken places, but it only gets worse.
Another plague affecting us is that of unemployment. This has been stressed overtime but nothing seems to have changed. The number of those who retire yearly is always indirectly proportional to the number of those recruited as replacement. That is, there is no match between those retired from work yearly with those taken in. Yet, this has not stopped civil servants from declaring their age and ‘Nicodemously’ employing under-qualified people whom they can receive percentages from after leaving office. Most of our self-made youths are products of their own relentless and untiring efforts without any recourse to the government with only a few number of them in the messengerial cadre of the civil service.  
Even when every new government proposes to massively employ youths, such proposals have never seen the light of day. Our youths are only used as labourers in mega jobs contracted to foreign bodies and companies. What then are we celebrating?
It is no new story that the unity of today’s Akwa Ibom has been torn apart. In those days when we lived as one family, our language was the binding force for any task and whatever anyone said would be considered irrespective of their tribe. In fact, for those living in other states, having a fellow Akwaibomite in the vicinity is a seal of security and protection. But today, we know our differing tribes to its smallest unit. In our local government areas, we claim clans and in our clan, we claim villages. Even in our villages, we claim to belong to a particular family and in our families we claim positions. This is the extent of our disunity which to a large extent is responsible for the spate of dissensions among us.
Again, our drastic fall from high moral principles handed to us by our predecessors is doing us great harm. Our ‘no-big-deal’ approaches to moral issues have and will continue to hamper our morals. In the days back, every child belonged to the family and community at large such that discipline was carried out at the family and community level. No one closed their eyes to any ill and would not resist cautioning an erring child even before the parents concerned did theirs. But the society of today seems ignorant to the thousand and one unwholesome practices around us. No elder is really interested in cautioning an erring child for a wrong done and no institution is condemning same either. Rather, the trend is swiftly changing to a ‘cover-up’ system where those who should rebuke are covering-up ills. Thus, illicit acts go on in our societies unabated.
Another disease plaguing us the influx of quacks into the administration of the day. That is, bringing-in aliens to head and manage administrations which are far away from their field of study and expertise. The administration of the civil service, if assessed, is manned by non-professionals who were brought into the fore courtesy of a close relationship or connection they shared with one politician who had promised them an appointment into the government when they get ‘there’ and when this turns to be, the promise has to be kept at the detriment of whoever. This action it is that draws the progress of any institution backward. Research into the profiles of many Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries show that a handful of them are not professionals in their assigned fields and in Akwa Ibom State especially, this norm has come to stay.
Perhaps it is only in Akwa Ibom state anybody can be anything so long as a connection exists between the appointee and the appointed. But this is not to say that those brought in from the blues cannot be effective especially those who already had a knack for their new office and were waiting to be brushed a little.
However, this is unfair and unjust to others who have been in faithful service to the government, hoping to be called upon one day to assume a more exalted position and alas, they are overtaken by one they never would have thought of as an opponent. This singular act discourages workers and lowers their morale to the barest minimum. Even those coming up would no longer be secure about their job given their superiors’ overturn which indicates a similitude for them in the nearest future.
Citizens themselves have often contributed to their woes by showing lackadaisical attitude to work and property owned by government. The abuse of drainage facilities, vandalization of pipelines and transformers as well as the refusal to be sincere, committed and honest with government work is on the increase and still, we want better things. Of what use then will the amenities we desire be to us?
These are the major issues plaguing the state which everyone must see as collective and strive towards overcoming. Other plagues will be discussed subsequently. 

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