From: Joe Effiong, Uyo
The four local government areas of Itu, Ibibio, Ikono and Ini, in Akwa Ibom State have continued to lament their desolate state owing to their alleged neglect and marginalisation by the state government.
Coming on the platform of Eastern Ibibio People’s Association, the people of the area have stressed that the only way to redress the age-long injustice against them is to cede gubernatorial seat of the state in 2023 to Itu/Ibiono federal constituency said to have not tasted that position since the creation of the state in 1987.
The group made the appeal in Eket local government area, Akwa Ibom State, during an advocacy visit to the executive members of Afigh Iwaad Ekid – one of the foremost youth associations in the state.
The leader of the Eastern Ibibio People’s Association, Mr Eteyen Archibong, who led executive members of the association, intimated members of Afigh Iwaad Ekid that the people of the four local government areas that constituted the association have been neglected and deprived of development projects by successive regimes in the state.
He regretted that the completion agenda of the Udom Emmanuel led government had excluded the people of Ibiono Ibom, Ikono, Itu and Ini local government areas and bemoaned the level of attacks on the people of the areas by invaders from Abia and Cross River states.
‘As we speak, the people of Ini, Ibiono Ibom and Itu local government areas are counting their losses due to continuous attacks by the people of Abia and Cross River states, yet the government seems not to care. We collect all the bullets as boundary local government areas, but when the time to share comes, nobody remembers us.
‘That’s the plight of the Eastern Ibibio people. We have come to you, to appeal, to seek your support. We are not violent, we are not fighting. We are simply saying that our brothers in Uyo and Etinan federal constituencies having tasted the office before, should allow the people of Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency the opportunity to also taste.’
While noting that Afigh Iwaad Ekid has over the years evolved into a strong, formidable and influential pressure group in the state, Archibong lauded the current leadership of the organisation for sustaining the legacies of its predecessors.
Responding, the International president of Afigh Iwaad Ekid, Etiene Bob, commended members of the Eastern Ibibio People’s Association for their discipline and peaceful manner with which they were conducting their advocacy.
Bob explained that Afigh Iwaad Ekid was the umbrella body of youths in Eket, Onna, Esit Eket and Ibeno local government areas and that the people in the area having suffered years of neglect and deprivation in the hands of oil companies operating in the area were in a better position to understand issues of neglect, and political marginalisation.
He reiterated that his organisation was a nonpartisan group, even though members were not barred from holding political opinions.
He declared the support of Afigh Iwaad Ekid for the Eastern Ibibio People’s Association agitation.
‘You are the first group that has come to us, to solicit our support. Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency deserves governorship in 2023, and we want to believe that they have people that can win the governorship, and we’ll support you when the time comes.’