By Abasiofiok Inyang
The year 2016 began with tension in Akwa Ibom State. No thanks to the Appeal Court judgment in December 2015 that ordered a re-run in eighteen out of the 31 local government areas of the state.
However, respite came the way of Governor Udom Emmanuel when the Supreme Court in February this year over ruled the ruling of Appeal Court and gave victory to the governor.
The victory, temporarily calmed nerves and killings witnessed during the April 15 gubernatorial election in the state. Threat to cause violence and more killing was also averted by the apex court in its well delivered judgment.
The judgment gave the governor chance to settle down and think on how to deliver on the mandate given to him by the people. He embarked on ground breaking spree with the aim of implementing the industrialization policy he promised. The planned industrialization was targeted at creating jobs for the teeming youths which will in turn take their minds off crime and criminal activities.
However and unfortunately, all the projects and ground breaking are yet to see the light of the day. From Automobile Assembly Plant in Itu to coconut industry in Eastern Obolo. From fertilizer plant in Abak to rice plantation in Ini, the story is the same. All the sites that the ground breaking were performed have been covered by weeds. The youths that the projects was targeted have returned to the streets as area boys or at best, special assistant to the special assistant to the special assistant. Worse still, there has been increased activities of crime and insecurity in the state. Many who are hungry and desperate to grap at anything, have engaged in one form of minor crime to the big one like armed robbery and cultism as witnessed in parts of the state. The situation has mounted serious pressure on the police as they battle daily to contend with the hoodlums.
In Ikot Ekpene, for example, no fewer than fifteen persons have lost their lives through robbery and cult related issues in the last three months.
Aside crime, many communities have had lives lost in communal crisis. The crisis is attributed to renewed battle for ownership of land which is a major survival means and people now consider farming as the last alternative.
Communal crisis as a result of land disputes have claimed many lives this year in Ibiono Ibom, Uruan, Nsit Ubium, Ikot Abasi, Eastern Obolo and the latest which is between Oku Iboku in Akwa Ibom and Ikot Offiong in Cross River.
Joblessness, hunger have also characterized the year 2016. Many companies ranging from the multinational oil giant like Exxon Mobil, to the construction companies like Julius Berger, Nigerpet and SERTRACO, have relocated from the
state. The negative effect is that a greater number of indigenes who worked either as contract staff, skilled and unskilled labour force have been made jobless. Exxon Mobil alone has within the last year, sacked more than 1,000 staff.
Again, the termination of appointment given to about 5,000 youths who were employed to teach in public schools in the state has added to the tales of woes of the people even as frustration and hunger rages.
As the year 2016 ends and 2017 rolls in, what hope has the Akwa Ibom people? Will they come out of the present situation. Will the much talked about industrialization and ground breaking see the light of the day? Will there be food on their table?
With the recent presentation of 2017 budget to the State House of Assembly in which the governor tagged “Budget of Consolidation,” it is believed that the lives of the people will be improved. Achieving this will be a justification is the mandate that was given to governor which he accepted and promised.
The state government must also do more to protect the lives of citizens by embarking on projects that affect their lives positively. Whether we accept it or not, there is hunger in the land, there is insecurity, retirees and pensioners are being sent to their early graves untimely and unceremoniously. So, as we usher in the year 2017, the improvement on the lives of the people remains paramount and must be considered such. The time for governor and those in helm of affairs in the state to act is certainly now!