Pathetic Story of Akwa Ibom Community where residents drink from a pond
The Village of Ikot Ntuk in Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has been described as the darkest spot of the State by passers-by and indigenes whose living condition, wellbeing and security has remained perpetually deplorable for 228 years.
The Community which is about 45 poles away from the Local Government Headquarters in Ikot Ibritam, and one of the acclaimed 5 urban villages in the area with the second largest vote basket, has no trace of an urban facility; not even an electric pole. Worse is that it has no water source, except a pond which serves the entire community of over 5,000 people and a pipe-borne water of thirty years which never satisfies the people.
Even more, Ikot Ntuk has no graded road, no Hospital/Health Post/Pharmacy/Chemist and has no market. The only seemingly urban structure in the Village is a desk-less dilapidated Primary School located in front of a forest, without Perimeter fencing, windows and doors, uncemented floors and broken ceilings.
Accessible through Ekparakwa junction to Urua Anwa, the community is a 10 minutes drive from the left of the Urua Anwa junction.
Surprisingly, the Local Government is home to Rt. Hon. (Sir) Udo Keiran Akpan, Leader of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly; Commissioner for Education, Hon. Idongesit Etiebet; Sen. Itak Ekarika; Chairman, Akwa Ibom Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim; Hon. Sampson Idiong, Hon. Paul Udofia, Mr. Okoko, Iboro Udom, Wife of the Chief of Staff to Governor Udom Emmanuel, Mrs. Ime Ephraim Inyang and Her Excellency, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel, whose paternal home is just a stone throw from Ikot Ntuk.
Moving around the community to the site of the pond, reporters met a dry pond another shocking experience was that it had dried off thus, making the villagers struggle hard to fetch from the only surviving pipe-borne water in the community.
Fielding questions from journalists, the Village Chief of Ikot Ntuk, Chief Michael Ukwok affirmed in vernacular that the ugly sights in the community were real.
“Without the missionaries, we would be dead for lack of water by now; we go to Ikot Ibritam to fetch water when our sources run dry completely and that is about an hour distance from here”.
The Village Chief explained that Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had given them 3 pipe-borne water in 1992, two of which had gone bad overtime.
“The one you see the villagers struggling to fetch from is the last one and we spend up to N80,000 yearly to repair it because as people press the lever everyday, the chain gets weak and eventually breaks. While we wait to have the N80,000 by taxing ourselves, we fetch from that dry pond you saw and pray for the rainy season to come quickly; otherwise, we go to the stream at Ikot Ibritam to fetch water ”, he narrated.
Speaking on the unhygienic water from the pond, the Chief expressed that they had gotten accustomed to the dirty water.
“When we fall sick, we travel down to Ikot Ibritam to buy drugs or Ikot Okoro for medical checkup but in many cases, a lot of people die before getting to the Hospital due to the distance and the deplorable condition of the road. Three people died on this road last year on their way to the hospital”, he recalled.
While lamenting the long years of neglect and deprivation of basic amenities, a former Youth President of the community, Nsese Michael Ukwok informed that Ikot Ntuk is the second largest vote basket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oruk Anam.
“This Village is ward 2 in Oruk Anam. Since independence, till 1999, this village has never done something less in terms of vote. We are more than 5,000 in number. Our population is vast such that another Unit will soon be created from us, only that it has not been approved. If you go to the voters’ register in the state you will see the number of votes this village produces during election. We have always supported the government even to the point of our people dying during election but they abandon us afterwards. The water from the pond you saw has caused so many deaths due to the long trip one has to embark on to access health facilities in Ikot Ibritam and other distant communities deplorable”, he decried.
Describing Ikot Ntuk as the darkest spot in the scrambled continent of the world, a citizen journalist, Udimekong Joshua observed that no infant, adult or aged person has ever set eyes on electricity in the Village.
“We don’t even have poles to start with. We don’t have water yet, we contribute a lot to the development of the State in terms of voting. It is sad that the huge amount of vote which we produce, does not equate with the dividends of democracy here. We deserve even more than 5 water projects in this community because we are more than 5,000. Our urgent need in this community is Water, Electricity, Roads and a Pharmacy at least. Hospitals would be a secondary need”, he maintained.
When asked if the Village has made any attempt to reach out to the government for help, the Village Chief recalled that they had sought the assistance of a former Councilor in the area who told them to stop pestering him.
“The Present Councilor is Mr. Idongesit Udoketor. The former Councilor told us not to bother him again, that we were not the ones who sat him as Councilor”, the Chief said in vernacular.
“I had also written to the SA on Power, Engr. Imeyen and he told me that the letter has been received by the Governor. He also sent his men to come and do an electrical survey of the area but that was the last we heard of it”, he added.
Also mentioning conscious efforts made to reach for help, Joshua recalled that they had succeeded in reaching out to persons and organizations with little or no response.
“Severally, we have approached organizations and individuals for help on borehole drilling but only Hon. Bernard Sampson Idiong heeded the call by giving us a borehole which we cannot maintain due to the malfunctioned generator. Since the ongoing road construction in Ikot Ibritam to this place is taking a snail-pace, we need a hospital. If government in the space of 33 years cannot give us a hospital, let them give us a standard pharmacy, at least”, he pleaded.
“We need rehabilitation of our Primary school. We need the government to come to our aid; Sir. Udo Keiran constructed a classroom block for us, without which our children would have been sitting under the mango tree. The grownups trek long distances to go to Secondary School at Ikot Ibritam, Ikot Afanga or Ukanafun because we have none”.
“We don’t even have a market. The distance from here to Urua Anwa and Urua Ufok Ibok in Ikot Ibritam is not something one can talk about. What we have is just an evening market without stalls where people sit on the ground to sell their wares, we need help”, he cried.
“Come 2023, we will not be fooled anymore. We won’t listen to their lies and we won’t bend backward for any Party or Politician”, the former youth leader maintained.