It is typical, though unfortunate, in Nigeria, that infrastructural development are often limited to the urban areas, while the rural settlements are left to rot. In most states of the country, non-urban areas are abandoned in deplorable states even as dwellers there feel little or no impact of government.
Of the total population of Nigeria, 49.66% are resident in the rural areas, according to the World Bank’s collection of development in 2018. This number of Nigerians, regrettably, are denied access to basic amenities such as water and electricity.
But in Akwa Ibom State, this narrative is fast changing. Rural communities are carried along in the developmental drive of the government. In almost every community in the state, there is, at least, one micro project executed by the people with financial support from the government.
The state government implements this through its Community and Social Development Project (CSDP), an agency saddled with the responsibility of empowering communities to identify, plan, part-finance, implement, monitor and maintain sustainable and socially inclusive multi-sectoral micro-projects.
Even though the agency is not directly involved in implementation of Micro Projects (MPs) and Community Development Plans (CDPs), it acts as a quick disbursing instrument to communities that submit CDPs to it for funding. However, to be eligible, communities are required to contribute 10 percent of the cost of each micro project to be executed.
During a recent media tour of the micro projects in different communities, benefitting communities extolled the government and the agency for being sensitive to their plights.
In Nsie community, Okobo local government area of the state where the people, with support from CSPD, had built a Health Centre, the people thanked the state government for meeting their health needs.
The village head of the community, Chief Effiong Henry, while pouring encomiums on the sate Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and the leadership of CSDP, for the facility, reminisced that before the health centre was built, the people had to endure traveling long distances for their health concerns.
“We only contributed a paltry sum, while government paid the rest for this building and everything inside here to be realised. For this, I thank Governor Udom Emmanuel and the leadership of CSDP for this wonderful project,” he said.
In Afi Uda, Mbo local government area, CSDP had, at the request of the people, assisted them to construct a Town Hall, as well as market stalls.
Speaking, the village head, Chief Clement Ekuwem, who described the state governor as community friendly, thanked him for many other projects that were brought to the community.
Vulnerable groups have also benefitted from the project. In Ikot Ekan and Ekpene Obom communities of Etinan local government area, leprosy patients, through assistance from the CSDP, acquired motorised boreholes, buses, school materials, special drugs, lock up stores, clutches and prosthetics.
Mrs. Lucy Stephenson, chairperson of the implementation committee, who spoke to journalists, at leprosy hospital, Ikot Ekan, thanked the government through the CSDP for the micro projects.
Narrating how difficult it was for them to have access to water before the implementation of the motorised borehole in the hospital, Stephenson said “when we used to go to the stream to fetch water, the villagers descriminated against us. They did not allow us enter the water because they believed we would contaminate it.
“I thank God now that we have our own water here. I am very grateful to the governor and the CSDP for this project and many other ones that we received.”
The media train also landed in other communities to include Essien Enang in Etinan local government area where a vulnerable group were empowered by the CSDP to construct a motorised borehole and extension of electricity projects; Odot 11 in Nsit Atai local government area, where there are extension of electricity and construction of town hall projects.
Odiok-Itam in Itu local government area, Itie Ikpe in Ini local government area and Ukana Ikot Ekon in Essien Udim local government area, were other communities visited by the media team, where there are constructions of town halls and market stalls.
Earlier, the General Manager of CSDP, Mr. Ishmael Akpan, said that the agency which was established to enhance the living conditions of the common citizen in mostly the rural communities, has implemented 325 micro projects in diverse communities at the cost of over N1 billion.
Mr. Akpan, who said that the funds for micro projects is a grant to communities, explained that access to the funds, which come in phases, is dependent on how quickly a benefitting community executes its project.
The General manager charged communities that have benefitted from the programme to protect the micro projects, saying that it is their responsibility to ensure that the projects are kept and put to the right use.