If anyone had visited Akwa Ibom State or had lived in the State between 2008 – 2014, he/she would agree with us that today Akwa Ibom State has reclaimed her lost identity and nomenclature “the most peaceful place in Nigeria”, once lost in the comity of States.
Akwa Ibom State, a peaceful place where people from different walks of life preferred as a destination of choice because of her long lasting peace and tranquility, hospitality outfits and real love among her people for strangers even before she was created, was once deserted with evil activities coupled with impunity.
It was quite pathetic that once regarded a peaceful State in Nigeria, Akwa Ibom was turned to an entity where thuggery, hooliganism, kidnapping, politically and socially motivated killings and also a place where secret fraternity turned open religions. It is on record that 2011/2012 police reports placed Akwa Ibom State among top three violent places in Nigeria.
It was so sad that the system of governance within this period was such that before anyone could access any benevolence from government, he/she must have been a member of any secret fraternal group before such approval were made.
Quite unfortunate also was the fact that a State named after The Almighty God, “Akwa Abasi Ibom State” suddenly became a reckoning point of demonic and ungodly activities. The state turned to a place where contracts, appointments and promotions in government circle came on the platter of “Mbiam”, a common traditional oath, even to the extent that to become a Councillor in respective wards, “Mbiam” must be administered to such persons.
Apart from these, people’s lives were not as important as political interest of the government. You dared not stand your ground against action or decisions of the government. For the sake of seeing another day, everybody, both; traditional, religious institutions and academic environments all turned to sycophants just to please the government. The only language and slogan the government understood were “yes Sir”and “ono mkpo inam”. Anything out of these automatically implied indirect romance to early grave.
Democracy our fathers fought for until it was finally given to us on May 29, 1999 turned to totalitarianism and anarchism. Akwa Ibom became an anarchical society, a place where emperor in Government House felt he could choose who to live and who not to live without anybody questioning him.
Even churches were not spared from this arrow of insubordination and sacrilege on humanity called “wanton killing and kidnapping”. It could be recalled that the first victim of kidnapping in the State was the Senior Pastor, Power City International, Rev. Dr. Abel Damina. Rev. Damina’s little daughter was kidnapped on her way back from school and N50m ransom was demanded. In same vein, Late General Edet Akpan was also kidnapped in Qua Iboe Church, Nsit Atai Local Government Area and two choristers killed instantly, just because he (Gen. Akpan) opposed the government.
Fear and intimidation of opponents became the order of the day. In a build up to 2011 general elections, candidates from other political Parties were warned not to contest against incumbent governor. Those who dared the warning and went ahead and contested bore the negative consequences of their audacious actions while some of their immediate family members took the hill portions on their behalf.
Some of them who dared the warning were, Sen. J.J. Akpanudoedehe of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). His consequences were incarceration and sudden frame up by the State Government and was detained up to a day to the general election. For Captain Sam Ewang of All Nigerians People Party (ANPP), his wife was kidnapped and ransom paid which rendered him financially incapacitated for the election. Engr. Iniekong Udonwa escaped assassination and unfortunately his mother was kidnapped and later killed and her corpse dumped on the roadside.
Indeed, in every adversaries there is always victory at the end of it all. The good news is that today all these atrocities are now stories to tell the younger generations of Akwa Ibom State. The prayers of redemption poured on the land have been answered by God. The just concluded 2019 general elections proved this right, as the incumbent Governor of the State contested the election with over 15 candidates of other political Parties without such similar experience.
Good enough, the land of Akwa Ibom State has been redeemed and totally fumigated of atrocity of bloodshed and kidnapping. So it sounds very funny when some people came out to say that Akwa Ibom State is searching for a redeemer. Today resources of the State are now channelled to productive sectors of the economy instead of using it to fight crimes and public funerals.
Finally, if anyone who had been in the State from 2008 – 2014 can take a look at Akwa Ibom today and then, he/she will attest to the fact that the State has been totally redeemed and here we say according to John 19:25 “our redeemer liveth in the land”.
Akpan Udeh writes from Uyo in Akwa Ibom state