CURFEW Is Killing IKOT Ekpene By Ubong Essien

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The Ancient town of the Raffia City was then greeted by serial attacks by hoodlums suspected to be cultists and their rivals. This created serious security threat in the Ancient home of Raffia making. lives and properties were lost, and life became a misery in the town.
And then came curfew on the use of motorcycle. This was a security measure to contend and curb the crime. It worked and peace had since returned to the town. The state government and the Security agents, take the kudos. But I want to observe here that contending the crime is not all about curfew. The intelligent institutions of the Government should go beyond harassing innocent motorcyclists. As intelligence demands, the culprits can be traced to where ever hide out they may be. The Police has a report that these miscreants are mostly political thugs, yet their political benefactors are scot free. Who postulated that the law is made for the weak? Could he have been right?
The government should understand that the motorcyclists are not made up of just riffraff as widely conceived. Graduates of higher institutions who are hit by the inability of the government to create an enabling field for employment are also involved in it. It is shameful for a government whose University graduates are into commercial motorcycle operation. I wonder why it is not also shameful for same government to incarcerate them.
Many businesses are forced to close from 4 to 5pm to enable owners trek home early. Long distance trekking has become part of living in Ikot Ekpene as the available means of transportation can’t cover them. There is no denial of the fact that Ikot Ekpene has a poor road network for taxi, mini bus and tricycle to operate. This is where motorcycle thrived.
Lest I divert, business and commercial activities are crumbling and income is deprecating in an economy of already low level of income earning. Guess what is now happening.
A town that was once bubbling with business activities in the evenings and nights is put to a stall. The peak hour of business activities from 4 pm upward is been turned to a deactive time.
Transportation fare is then high in Ik. The operators of commercial motorcycle are now using the day to gain what is been lost in the evenings and nights. Price hike sets in, the poor are in pain while the Big men are unconcerned.
It is saddened to also note that despite the nose dived income to business operators due to the curfew, the Local Government and its Revenue Agents are not perturbed. They are more serious in their revenue drive, and harassing those unable to meet up. Some businesses are folding up because they can’t meet up again. Here I sense insensitivity.
The men of the Police are also seizing the opportunity to feast on the motorcyclists. You can start seeing arrest and seizure of bikes in some minutes before 6pm. What happens then, you should guess. Abeg abeg sir! but you must spend.
It is observed that the curfew was placed on both Eket and Ikot Ekpene at almost the same time, but that of Eket was lifted over two months ago. But Ikot Ekpene remains in the dark spot up till now. Something is wrong here as well.
It was alleged that a delegation of  Elders from Eket met with the Governor to make a passionate appeal for the suspension of curfew in their area. This, the government gladly harkened to, thereby suspending the curfew over there. If that was so, then I am forced to ask. Do we have Elders in Ikot Ekpene? Are they feeling the pains of Ikot Ekpene people? If the Elders of Eket can be that sensitive to the plight of Eket people, where are our Elders? Or, should we end up believing that we have only ancestors who don’t deal on the physical but of spiritual?
How I remember the likes of Late Chief R. U. Umoinyang, Akpan Ekukinam, M. J. Ito, Udo Udo Okure, A. J. Atuhube, A. U. Akai, Charles Esu, Ibanga Akpabio who are now late, whose voices as Elders were prominent and catalytic to be attracting developments to Ikot Ekpene without tears nor hell, but at a blink of an eye. These great men were able to draw developments to Ikot Ekpene especially for the fact that they were of the stock of the then ruling party, NCNC. They never compromised on behalf of Ikot Ekpene for the sake of siding their political party or anticipating favour.
Memory lane has it that  Ikot Ekpene was no place of mean value or relevance. This had to do with men of proven integrity and selfless on approach of public issues. But before I proceed, let us get the following facts established. The old Calabar province was created in 1914. The present day Akwa Ibom state was inclusive therein. And in 1956, the Calabar province was divided into Calabar, Uyo and Annang provinces, having headquarters at Calabar, Uyo and Ikot Ekpene respectively.
Ikot Ekpene never took last as I reminisce. There are many developments that were attracted to Ikot Ekpene and Ikot Ekpene being the first to attract such, especially in the then mainland part of old Calabar province, now the geographical area called Akwa Ibom state.
Control Post built to control the flow of traffic was established in 1904. Then the Helipad was constructed near the present Ikot Ekpene club in 1906. The defunct Prison at the city centre was established in 1919. Ikot Ekpene main market was established in 1937. As at then, the first Ultramodern Library was established in 1964. All these mentioned, first had their foot on Ikot Ekpene first before stepping into any other place or town in what was known as the then mainland part of old Calabar province, and now present day Akwa Ibom state. Electricity supply was also one of the amenities that was first enjoyed in Ikot Ekpene before any other place in the then mainland part of old Calabar province.
I must not fail to acknowledge Ikot Ekpene as the first LGA in the British controlled west Africa in 1951. It was then know as the Native rule. Ikot Ekpene also had the first black man to take over government from the white in the Native rule. He can either be called the first Local government chairman in west Africa or Ikot Ekpene. The later is more appropriate and formal. I introduce to you the man which the Queen of England certified as the most qualified guru in Local government (then native) administration. He is late Chief R. U. Umoinyang,(MBE) 1900 – 1972. This is the same man who in 1958 deputized late Barr. Udo Udoma being the chairman of the defunct Ibibio union
These was how great Ikot Ekpene was and is supposed to be. It was born to be great. The labours of our heroes should not be in vain.
Let our Elders rise. They shouldn’t stop at being Elders for political reasons only. Before politics, man has a social and economic life to live. If we truly have Elders, let us feel them. Ikot Ekpene shouldn’t be left to die the way it is dying. Or do they expect  Chief Godswill Akpabio to come from Essien Udim and speak on their behalf?  Of course, when the Ikot Ekpene – Uyo road was abandoned by the present government, the Elders were adamant. It took the “All is not well” speech by Senator Akpabio for work to commence again. Where were the Elders of Ikot Ekpene before then?
When a landlord can’t decide what happens in his compound, he is as good as a tenant. Ikot Ekpene needs life again.
Ubong Essien Wrotefrom Unit Ekpene

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