Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Elders of Azikiwe Street in Akparika Abassi Edem community in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River state have lamented the deplorable state of roads recently constructed by the federal ministry of agriculture and other projects in the area and their attendant hardship on the people.
When TNN visited the area it was discovered that the road had become a serious challenge as it was no more accessible. The residents who complained bitterly about the condition of the road and absence of government’s presence in the area lamented that the government had failed them. They noted that all government projects in the community were a disappointment to them.
They complained that they are facing harrowing time because of the condition, complaining that the road was better before the contract was awarded. Apart from the inability to use the road, the community known for its farming activities also complained that greater losses in terms of transporting their agricultural produce for sale have been recorded.
Chairman of the Elders Forum, Archibong Ekpikeng who narrated the ordeal said: “Sometime in November last year, some people came here headed by one Engineer Bello. I asked him why he was here and he said he was sent to come and handle our farm road. I requested for a paper proof from him and he said he had no paper that it is with his oga.
“Eventually, he succeeded in doing the job without showing us any paper. Then I said, okay but that as a farm road, it must be equipped with drainage. He said no, drainage is not inclusive. Then I insisted for him to show us the paper because we’ve not seen where the federal government will come and ask you to do road without drainage to channel the water. He refused and I walked away and every other person also walked away. Our road was even better than this.
“The transformer over there is not working. They have not powered it because of fake materials. The contractor should be called upon to effect the normal materials so as to power the transformer because that’s the only hope we have for now”.
Also speaking during the visit to the area, secretary of the Elders Forum, Clement Duke pleaded with the government to provide them with accessible and quality roads as well as other basic amenities. He added that the community has been neglected by the government.
“The contract was awarded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture that is the idea of the farm road. The idea is that they enter a community, they grade the road, and thereafter they give a borehole. They gave us a borehole. Thereafter they came with a transformer that undersized cables were used to do the connection and this is where we are.
“That transformer they mounted since June last year has not been powered till date. And they’ve not paid money to NIMSA and for that reason; PHEDC said they cannot power the transformer because it has not been registered. So these two projects they came with is just a disappointment to us. Because it was the community that contributed money two months ago, I went to NIMSA to pay money for that transformer. Now for PHEDC to come for the connection, they now said, the cables are undersized.
“All we need now is a good road, accessible road. We need steady light. Now look at the situation beginning from Mayne Avenue by Goldie to Edgerly, this is one of the roads nobody can access. You can’t pass through here to Ekpo-Abasi; you can’t pass here to anywhere. Meanwhile this place is named after the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe. A big shame! So we are calling on the government to give us a quality road with a gutter so that we can also feel the dividend of democracy. We stay here without light”, he appealed.
Duke also added that the level of employed youths in the area is very high. He encouraged the government at all levels to look out for ways to empower the young ones to ensure they do not become a nuisance to the area.
He said “on a very serious note, a hungry man is an angry man. When the youths are jobless, where there’s nothing to do, then they do whatever they see. Let the government create job opportunities for the young ones. This community has always been producing materials for the government since the 80’s. We had Honourable Udoh representing Itu Constituency, then Itu 1 Constituency in this area, Akpan Akpan Udoh representing Itu 2 Constituency from this area. As we speak, the deputy speaker is from this community. And you won’t believe that this is the kind road of road he drives to go and see his parents. It’s a blow on us.
“When it is election period we give hundred over hundred. The last time, they came here to give two packets of Indomie and said it is palliatives; is that what we will eat? If the government is responsible, because from what we are seeing it is an irresponsible government; but if the government is responsible, then let us feel the dividend of democracy here.
“There is no government presence here. The primary school has been abandoned, if you go there the roofs have been removed, no security, nothing good is coming here. So let the government think twice about this community before we take laws into our hands”.
When contacted, the site Engineer frowned at the action. “I have told them to direct everything to the Ministry of Agriculture. They should not call me again on this matter. Whatever they need to complain, they should channel it to the ministry of agric. They have reported earlier this year. I am not in charge”, the engineer said.