Judex Okoro, Calabar
Ukwa Eburutu in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River is in dire need of government attention. And it has to be urgent. Residents of the community recently cried out to government for rescue following long years of neglect and non-provision of road, medical centre and water.
The community with a population of about 29,000 and predominantly farmers has been abandoned by successive governments. As one of the ancestral clans of Efik Eburutu, it is arguable the most neglected communities in the state by all levels of government.
It is bounded to the North by Biakpan in Biase Local Government, to the East by Ikot Okpora/Ikot Ana axis of the state, to the South by Ito community in Odukpani and to the West by Iheochawa Igbo of Okpo-Ihe, Achara and Ututu in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State.
A visit to the community revealed the near absence of government presence as the minimum basic amenities including water, road, hospital and electricity that sustain human life and the economy of a locality are either lacking or non-functional.
During dry season, the streams dry up and the community is left to its fate. Residents trek about 25km to the next available streams of Afiang and Abasuba in search of water even as the community’s effort to drill borehole water has not yielded result.
Over the years, the community had depended on stagnant streams for drinking water, cooking and other uses. Health experts said outbreak of cholera, attributable to the unsafe drinking water by the people led to the deaths of about 53 villagers as far back as 1993. Even attempt by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to construct a solar- powered-borehole was abandoned, dashing hopes of portable drinking water.
A health officer, Mr Asuquo Ene, who went there for immunization exercise recently, said traveling to Ukwa Eburutu has always left a very sour taste in the mouths of those who dare embark on the journey, especially first time visitors:
“Ordinarily, going to Ukwa Eburutu will about 30 minutes’ drive from Calabar, but sadly it now takes about 10-15 hours due bad road network which is a death trap.”
However, succour seemed to have come their way as the Ayara brothers led by Prof Ndem Ayara Ndiyo, former Economic Adviser to the Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Calabar, and his brother, Esu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Esuvik Nigeria Ltd, decided to embark on the construction of a 30km-road from Ukwa Eburutu to the bank of the Cross River.
Esu said the road has many culverts and called on state government to come to their aid to enable them complete the work. The Village Head of Okube Ukwa Eburutu, Chief Okon Obio said: “We are suffering in the community due to lack of basic amenities.
“We are under-developed because of no road network which opens up a community. We produce a lot of crops ranging from cassava, vegetables and plantain, but no access road to transport these produce. Buyers cannot also access the community.
“The few buyers that defy the terrible road to come to our community buy at very low prices. We are begging government to construct a motorable road from the bank of Cross River to Mbiabong Ukwa.
“We cannot send our children to school because of the high poverty rate in the community. The little money we make from our farms is not enough for our feeding talk more of paying our children›s school fees.
Leader for Ukwa Eburutu Women, Mrs Adiaha Nseyen, said: “It is as if we have been isolated from other parts of Nigeria due to the level of neglect of our community. Road has been our major problem for years. We are richly blessed with natural and human resources.
“We produce pepper, vegetables, cassava, yam, cocoyam in large quantities. When these produce are brought from our farms, we cannot take it out to nearby community to sell them. Most of these produce are left there for goats and other domestic animals to feed on because there is no buyer to buy.
“Most of the villagers look malnourished because of the high poverty rate. I am begging on behalf of Ukwa Eburutu women for government to construct road to Ukwa Eburutu.”