Godwin AJOM, Calabar
Agoi is a community in Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River state. It is blessed with abundant fertile land for agriculture and remains one of the most agriculturally wealthy communities in Cross River State. With an estimated population of 140,000 people, the people survive through what they grow in their own land.
Farm produce grown in Agoi includes but not limited to yam, plantain, banana, cocoa, oil palm and cassava, amongst others. The villagers say the challenge most farmers face in the area has been how to transport farm produce to the markets and how to store them. In fact, some even said they suffer maximum losses due to grossly reduced market value, because they could not preserve their farm yields due to lack of power and storage facilities.
Mrs Benedicta Ewa is an APC member who resides in Agoi-Ekpo. “This community is in Yakurr, but you see how the environment looks. It is during dry season that you will know that we are suffering here; that road you come in from, if it rains you cannot pass that road. If Honourable Alex will win, my request to him will be to see how this our road can be rehabilitated and to help our people with some boreholes too. We don’t have good water facilities here,” she explained.
Even some traditional leaders in the area aren’t comfortable with the level of development and political representation in the area. Although Agoi people do vote their candidates in all elections since 1999, Mr Iwara Jesam believes that the enviable status of the Agoi nation hasn’t yet been recognized, “I grew up in this community, I am believing that the reason why our community is still backward is because the enviable status of our community that projects us as one of the most relevant communities making impact in Cross River state, especially in the central is not recognized by our state. I believe that’s the problem, because just like you have Akamkpa in the south, that’s how Agoi is important to the central”.
When TNN interviewed Ata Irom Oyira, a chief from Agoi-Ekpo village, his responses weren’t different from the villagers’ general view. According to him, “if people were like me, Eteng Jonah wouldn’t have even contest to that position and win because since we voted him into power, he has never come to this community. When they want to go back to power, they are now coming for Agoi people to vote them, if we vote them into power, they will just turn their back against us, and go home without thinking to help our sons and daughters.
“They promised to empower our youths, but we have seen none of those things. When they want votes, they will remember us in Agoi with fake promises, but when they win, they forget us. They want to silence us again. Look at our road, see our central palace, we don’t have water, none of the pipes are working.”
Bassey Ekumokeng, on his part said “I am a family man, I am a farmer, our major issue is road. We need loans, roads and grants to help our farms to boost our farm work. We have enough oil palm, cocoa, yam, cassava and excess plantain. My expectations from politicians doing campaigns now is that when they win, they should make sure we have a good road and empower our youths.”
Mrs Atim Edet Solomon from Agoi Ekoma-Agoi was of the opinion that “the problem of this community is that we need a good road, good primary school for our children. We need a town hall for the women. Personally, my issue is that we don’t have any road to travel, even when you want to use this our road during the wet season, movement is very difficult. I am a farmer, but it’s difficult because I don’t have money to process a sizable land for my farming. I use my personal effort alone and you know as a woman, I cannot do much in terms of clearing and tilling the land and preparing it for crop cultivation. So we need financial support for our farming.”
Also, Favour Jeremiah Obeten said “I am a student. My community here are mostly farmers. If I am opportune to change something in my village, what I will do is create job opportunities for the youths and help the old women and the men with farm tools and incentives for their farm work. We produce yam, water yam. I don’t think there is memorable government presence in this community. We have been left behind. We don’t have good road, electricity and no encouragement for commerce to thrive.”
Meanwhile, the member representing Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency in the house of Representatives, Dr nAlex Egbona during his campaign to the area, acknowledged the problems of the people of Agoi and made some commitments to that effect. According to him, ” as I am here, I am very sad; sad in the sense that anytime I come to Agoi-Ibami, it is the same situation, nothing is changing here; When I won elections, I made attempts to enter into this community (Agoi-Ibami), but I was stopped on the road. That was during the rainy season. I wasn’t coming for campaign. I was coming to see you and know the number of kilometres of this road.
“Anyone who comes here, if the person is a human being, you must think of this road. I don’t think there is any community I think of, like this community. I even dreamt about it. I am not joking. What we need is access road. There was a time I wrote a letter to the ministry of power about this light issue in this community, they came for inspection and by the grace of God, they will come and start work. We know that you people don’t have light, we don’t want to come here in the next four years and see this issue just like this, “he assured.