Pictures of insecurity in Ukanafun Local Government area in Akwa Ibom State are grim. From January 2, 2017, when a tussle over headship of Okoyo village led to the death of the village council chairman and a youth leader, crimes claiming lives have become a daily affair with death looming at the doorsteps of those still lucky to be counted among the living.
In one day, six persons were killed. During the Easter, no fewer than four persons, including Ime Atakpa, the secretary of Ukanafun Local Government, were gruesomely killed. On Sunday before Easter, the Proprietor of Sure Foundation Polytechnic, Idongesit Udom, was abducted by gunmen, while leaving his house for a church opposite his house. As at the time of filing this piece, the sexagenarian Goliath-framed engineer and retired manager with Exxon Mobil was still in captivity of men of the underworld with no access to the outside world other than his abductors-guided telephone conversation made possible only for the purpose of securing ransom for his freedom.
It is saddening twist of fate that the Sure Foundation Polytechnic, which gives hope of a brighter future for Ukanafun community, is about to blight the spirit of private investment in rural communities, in that the school appears the single attraction launching the proprietor to the hearts of kidnappers.
If the private institution is not from interest yielding bank loans, it might be borne out of age-long savings of the founder and his family members. He has never got a contract or patronage of any kind from government at any level. Other than working for about three decades with the multinational oil company, his other occupation has been farming, still in his native Ukanafun. His philanthropic deeds in the community are not borne out of wealth, but will.
The carnage in Ukanafun is a reality equivalent of Hollywood horror. So far no fewer than 20 lives had been lost in the area since that first Monday of 2017. When it is not youth restiveness, it is cult-groups’ clashes or armed robbery or politically motivated assassination. The locale and nativity of the perpetrators may not be readily ascertained, but when crimes have been severally carried out successfully in a certain place and nothing is done to prevent recurrence, the place becomes greener pasture for criminals everywhere, a fertile and friendly land to nourish seedlings of crimes and even amateurs in the business of crime consider it a field to perfect professionalism in the nebulous businesses of gunning down lives.
If nothing is speedily done to put paid to pangs of jigsaw-puzzle currently plaguing the people of Ukanafun, then no one needs the power of clairvoyance to predict that the coming 2019 general election would be a poll where winners and losers would emerge in pool of blood. Little wonder, fear is palpable among the people. The public response to killing in Ukanafun has been more of fear without ferocious fight to stem the tide of the menace; it has been more of mourning and moaning and less of measures at mauling the monster.
Nsikak Ekanem writes from Akwa Ibom