Apparently worried by the economic doldrum and infrastructural deficit in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State after 45 years of her creation, Mr. Ray Ekpu who laced his speech with proverbs sought the state Governor’s intervention in the development of the area.
Ekpu, a renowned journalist and international editor of the year, employed folklore, pun, proverbs and analogies to paint the grim picture of the area ravaged by cult war for more than two years and called for overall development of the area.
”Some of our friends mock at us and say that the reason that we are like this is because we come from Cameroons. We are far from where things are happening. Are we from Cameroons? No, I think we are from Ukanafun and Ukanafun is in Akwa Ibom,’’ the master wordsmith queried in a high tone.
Speaking Tuesday, June 1 during the maiden one-day Ukanafun Economic Development Summit held at Council Hall, Ikot Akpa Nkuk, the local government headquarters, Ekpu, a prominent Ukanafun indigene said ”So, I hope that things will begin to happen and our friends will see that we are no longer in Cameroons, we are in Akwa Ibom. We will like to plead with His Excellency the governor to take us out from Cameroons and bring us back into Akwa Ibom.’’
According to him, ”The mission of Ukanafun Economic Development Committee can be likened metaphorically to an old woman who runs outside naked. By traditional folklore, it is assumed that either she has lost her grandchild or she has lost her snuff bottle. We haven’t lost our grandchild nor snuff bottle, but we have lost opportunities of making Ukanafun and taking it to the very height in the last 45 years.
”But we are not here to find faults. We are here to find solutions. One of the well-known proverbs in Annang land is that if you have a relation where palm fruit is being processed, you are guaranteed sumptuous consumption.’’
The founder of May5 Plc recounted that, ”We have the Governor as our non-biological son; we have the first Lady as our biological daughter who comes from what used to be called Western Annang County Council now made of Oruk Anam and Ukanafun. Since we are fortunate to have the two of them in addition to the deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, why shouldn’t we have sumptuous consumption of whatever is on the table?
”Cottage hospital project is mired in controversy. We urge you sir to resolve this. Our Blue River, God’s magical creation, a piece of serenity is our possession. It ought to be a robust tourist resort if the government should decide to give it a boost.
”For the former 20 industries attracted to various communities by the Udom Emmanuel has not been established in Ukanafun. We have abandoned abundant raw materials that can sustain industries, the Cassava and Palm oil and palm kernel value chains. A tonne of palm oil now costs more than a barrel of crude oil,’’ Ekpu reeled out.
”The former chief executive officer of Newswatch Magazine begged ”Your Excellencies, we plead with you not to allow us to remain like the man who lives on the bank of the river and washes his hands with spittle. Before your tenure ends in 2023, please do something for us to remember you kindly. ”
He observed ”Well this statement was written and since his high Government officials are also here I can say he is also here and it will be conveyed to him. Well, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has his biological roots in Onna Local Government Area. He has his non-biological roots in Ukanafun.
”So, we are happy he has honored us by sending his delegates or by sending words of encouragement here to us here in Ukanafun. A few weeks ago, I went to a market called Urua Akpan Assiek here in Ukanafun and I met a man there and I asked him ‘how are things?’
”And he said ‘although the ground is not leveled, but I am standing on it. This is a very weighty statement. It reflects what is happening here in Ukanafun. The ground is not levelled, but we are standing on it. Whether we are standing on it well or not is a different matter,’’ the famous journalist reflected.
”In my recollection, this is the first time Ukanafun elites who are not politicians are putting together a formal setting to look at how Ukanafun is, how it could be and what is the way forward to take it there,’’ he hammered with nostalgia.
He thanked the leadership of Ukanafun local government council, the leadership of UKEDC and all the stakeholders who have made this event possible.
Ekpu said ”I was saying in the morning the way this hall looks, I want Ukanafun to look like this. I want to thank the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State for honoring us. He is a full blooded citizen of what is called Abak 5 in which Ukanafun is a bonafide member.
”Your presence here is a kind of homecoming ceremony in Akwa Ibom State. Many of you do not know that I learnt journalism under the tutelage of Mr. Moses Ekpo. And whatever I have become in journalism today is attributed to his mentorship.
”I want to thank him also for his contributions to the success of Udom’s administration even though loyalty is a very fickle and ephemeral product in Nigeria. Moses Ekpo has shown that he is a man of loyalty. That emphasises the solidity of his character as a person. Thank you sir. Let me say this, well His Excellency is being represented. He supports Ukanafun, though he is unable to come. He wishes good for Ukanafun,’’ he pointed out.