Akwa Ibom State legislator representing Itu State Constituency, Kufre Edidem, has explained why the state House of Assembly is docile and under performing. He was speaking as the Village Head of Ikot Obio Atai, in his constituency has been sacked from his home by flood that has taken over more than three kilometre radius of the village.
Local sources say the village head has fled his palace situated at 85 Urua Ekpa Road. He has relocated to Udo Usanga Street, where he now holds court as the merciless flood affected many adjoining streets in the area, including Afaha Oku, Imo, Udo Usanga , among others.
More than 120 houses have been taken over by the flood while not less than 500 residents, including indigenes have been sacked from their houses turning some locals into refugees in their community.
The disaster of nature has also caused a gully erosion along Akpan Etong Street where some houses have been swallowed by the gully where a man allegedly died recently. The street lies between CCC Junction along Ikpa Road, Uyo and Udo Usanga Street, off Urua Ekpa Itu.
Though Ikot Obio Atai, or Urua Ekpa Road, is in Itu Local Government Area, the flooded area is less than two kilometres from the main gate of the Town Campus of the University of Uyo (UniUyo). The community is within the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA).
The community lies between Calabar Itu Road in Itu and Ikpa Road in Uyo Local Government Area.
However, Edidem, the state lawmaker who is an indigene of Ikot Obio Atai, says he was the Chairman of the local government during the administration of Godswill Akpabio when the flood menace started.
All the Akpabio administration did was to refer him to the then deputy governor, who facilitated officials of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to visit the village and share relief materials among the victims.
He is claiming that as a member of the state House of Assembly, he has brought the state Commissioner for Environment and Works to inspect the flood site, adding that he has forwarded the complaint to the state government, expressing the hope that work on the flood site will be included in the 2022 Akwa Ibom State budget. “By God’s special grace, I am sure it will be in the budget by next year.”
On why he had not brought the issue before the House under the Matter of Urgent Public Importance, Edidem retorted, ” do you want the thing on the floor or you want the problem solved? So if you want the problem solved, it is when you are a legislator and you don’t have a good relationship with the Executive and the Executive does not listen to you.
‘’That is when you bring matters to the floor of the house to catch the attention of the executive. But if the executive is already listening to you: the commissioner for finance, commissioner for environment followed me, they made the engineering drawings and they are working on next year’s budget, and it has been put in the budget, so what do you want the matter on the floor for? Is it for sensationalism or what?”
In the meantime, a garri seller, who simply identified herself as Mercy, is lamenting that the flood has sacked many residents of the area and crippled their businesses as students of UniUyo, who were the bulk of tenants in the area as well as patrons of businesses, have left the environment.
She is claiming that there is no natural stream or body of water rather the new roads like Udoette, UniUyo, Itam Market areas among others contribute to the flooding of the area which is the lowest point around.
A resident and a tricycle operator popularly called, Keke in the area, Titus Ekpe Sunday, says “my room is flooded anytime it rains. When it rains for like two or three hours, we relocate from our rooms. If you were here yesterday when it rained you would not have come up to this point.”
He explained that they have no other options than to live there because they don’t have money to rent new accommodation or build new houses, adding ‘therefore after rain we scooped water and go back to our wet rooms.”
Ekpe Asukwo, the landlord of 41 Urua Ekpa Road, is bemoaning that residents cannot quantify their losses over the years because of the menace, appealing to the state government to come to their rescue.
Village head of Ikot Obio Atai, Chief Mkpong Okon Mkpong, says the flood problem was beyond the village capacity to handle, noting that the community has written several letters to successive state governments but to no avail.
”The community has written to the government till date, nothing has happened, Since 1999, nothing has happened . If it was possible the community would have addressed the problem. It is difficult for us. Governor Udom Emmanuel should come and help us. We are all members of PDP. It is sad that even the village head ‘s house is underwater and yet they say that Akwa Ibom is beautiful.”
Meanwhile, Edidem is saying that the state Legislature has a good relationship with the Executive arm of government and as such, cannot topple the apple cart. He was responding to allegations of poor representation by the legislators in the state.
While speaking at the 2021 Correspondents Chapel, (Akwa Ibom State Council of the Nigeria Union ofJournalists) Week, Special Assistant to President Mohammadu Buhari on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, hit the state Legislature for being a rubber stamp of the Executive arm of government, totally negating its responsibilities of being a representative body of constituents in the state,
Enang, who spoke on Assessing the performance of Akwa Ibom State Legislators at the state and national levels lamented that the state legislature is operating on a philosophy of ‘Ete Abodie,’ translation “What is Ete, the governor, is saying. You must always speak or do the right things as a legislator’’, Enang stated; and insisted that members of the state legislature have not done well.
The presidential aide, declared that members of the state assembly since 1999 till date have been a big disappointment, admonished the legislators “It is not what the executive thinks that will keep you in politics. It is not how you seek to kowtow and comply that determines how far you go.”
While Enang maintained that it is not rascality to ask the executive probing questions, declaring that the state legislature is not as strong as it is supposed to be, a former member of the House who represented Ikono State constituency, Dr. Emmanuel Akpanobong, asked the legislators to sit up and do the needful.
Akpanobong is the Chief Executive Officer of Saint Athanasius Hospital in the state capital. He is advising legislators that once they are sworn in they should not legislate on the basis of party line.