I Cannot Pay School Fees For My 6 Children In Schools- IDP

Udeme Ibanga Umoh
Udeme Ibanga Umoh

Street Interview

Who are you?

My name is Udeme Ibanga Umoh alias Andybest. I am from Ikot Inyang Abia in Ukanafun local government area of Akwa Ibom State.

When did you leave your village for Abak?

I left the village two years and three months ago for Abak because of insecurity in Ukanafun. I came with my family- wife and six children.

Did you abandon any business venture or property in Ukanafun?

I left Andybest Guest House at 50 Court Road, Ukanafun. As a Nigerian distributor for Champion and Guinness Breweries (Nigeria) Plc, I abandoned the business too which has crumbled. The petrol filling station I established in the area is overgrown with weeds. My building material shop is abandoned. Ukanafun is no no-go area in the state due to the activities of suspected cultists and militants.

What was your monthly revenue Intake?

On a monthly basis, I used to make more than N3.5 million before profit revenue from all my businesses. I have lost the revenue since I abandoned the businesses and since people even customers fled the area.

What is the worth of your abandoned business ventures?

Andybest Guest House is worth N20 million; Petrol Filling Station- N30 million; Distributor’s Right to some breweries-N20 million and Building Materials Shop- N20 million. In all, my businesses are worth more than N90 million. Yet, I have abandoned them due to the crisis.

Is there any hope to revive your business ventures?

There is no hope of reviving them. I cannot go back to Ukanafun to run business ventures. Nothing is moving since I returned to Abak. I cannot pay the school fees of my six children. My children have dropped out of private schools due to dearth of funds to pay their fees. We are not doing anything for a living in Abak. Even my wife who was selling cosmetics had abandoned the shop with goods worth about N1 miilion.

How are you faring in Abak?

I am now an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) in Abak. Without means of livelihood, I am languishing in penury and lack. Even if I return home, how will I be able to resuscitate my fallen businesses? I have no money to revive`them.

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We are only surviving by the grace of God. Life is difficult here. While I was staying in Ukanafun, I used to spend many people because of my philanthropic gesture. I used to`reach out to many people. I have dependants who used to be coming to me for financial assistance. As internally displaced person, I do not have money to spend in Abak. I am jobless in Abak.

Which are the flashpoints in Ukanafun?

The flashpoints are mainly wards two and three in Southern Ukanafun. Such villages as Ikot Udo Obobo, Ikot Inyang Abia, Idung Idem Udo, Ikot Odiong, Ikot Akpan Ayara, Idung Uromisor, Obon Odo, Ikot Enang, Nkek, Ikot Unah, Okoyo and Ikot Udo Abia, among others.

However, there are some militants in Ikot Akpa Idem, Nto Okon, Ikot Udo Mbang, among others. But, we have some spill-over effects from neighbouring villages in Ikpe Annang, Uruk Ata 11 and Obon Obot, among others in Etim Ekpo local government area.

As a result, our people have migrated to Iwukem in Etim Ekpo, Abak, Ikot Ekpene, Uyo, Ekparakwa in Oruk Anam.

At the moment, what is the situation report In Ukanafun?

I learnt that the area is a dead end now. Nothing is working. Schools have been closed down. On May 27 Children and Youths Day in Ukanafun, there was march past in the area. Only one pupil matched and the local government chairman took salute. Markets are shut down. For example, Akpan Assiek, Anwa Uyo, Ikot Inyang Abia markets were razed by the suspected militants. The council secretariat at Ikot Akpa Nkuk is abandoned. Staffers do not go to work. The crisis has destroyed business activities in the area. Most places, roads and compounds particularly in Ikot Akpa Nkuk, the local government headquarters are overgrown with grasses.

Even most churches in the area are dead. For instance, a church of 200 members today has only six members or less than that number. Some pastors in many churches have relocated to safer communities. For the past two years, children are not attending schools. In short, there are no primary or secondary schools in the affected communities. Teachers have left the area. Joint Admission and Matriculation Board-JAMB- and West African Examination Council- WAEC- examinations centres in the area had been relocated to other local government areas. Health centres are no longer functioning as nurses and health personnel have fled the area. Customary, magistrate of High Courts are no longer sitting but had been relocated too.

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Bank of Agriculture, Ikot Akpa Nkuk in Ukanafun was relocated to Ikot EKpene. Nothing is moving in the area.

What is your appeal to Akwa Ibom government?   

I want the state government through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to come to our aid. I want government to rehabilitate us and to empower us financially to be able to revive our business ventures. Few people residing in Ukanafun particualry in ward 2 covering are those without any means of livelihood to leave for other towns and to rent houses to live with their families.

Since it the constitutional duty of government to protect lives and property, I want the government to restore peace and safety of lives and property to the beleaguered area.

Also, I want to appeal to the cultists and militants to lay down down arms and embrace peace. Through their activities, our people have been displaced from their ancestral homes. And they are suffering in foreign land. Please, allow our parents and children to return home to avoid them dying in far-away places.