By Abasifreke Effiong & Kufre Etuk
Crisis has sparked off in Ikot Ekpene local government area over the arbitrary building of a motor park within the confines of Government primary school 1, in Uruk Uso community.
The member representing Ikot Ekpene, Essien Udim and Obot Akara federal constituency, Mr. Nsikak Ekong, attracted the open motor park as his constituency project and caused it to be built on the school land.
Elites of Uruk Uso community in Ikot Ekpene local government area are at daggers drawn against the village head and members of the village council over the phony constituency project.
Elites in Uruk Uso said having a motor park inside a school poses serious threat to the community primary school attended by well over 1000 pupils.
The Uruk Uso village council said it did not allocate the land to Mr. Nsikak Ekong, for the motor park project.
The village head of Uruk Uso, Eteidung Akpan Udo Odung, said the federal lawmaker invaded the community and encroached on the land belonging to the government primary school and built the motor park on the land.
“People have accused us of allocating a land to Hon. Nsikak Ekong to build a motor park and I have told them that no sensible person would allocate or allow anyone to build a motor park inside a school. I know the value of education and the ambience the surrounding of a school requires.”
“Uruk Uso village council is aware that the land the lawmaker is constructing that motor park belongs to Government School 1, Uruk Uso. The part of the school land the Honourable has used to build the park was reserved for vocational college”, the village head said.
Eteidung Odung emphasised that the village council was not involved in the sitting and implementation of the project which is variously said to be a waste of government funds.
The village head said, “I don’t think that project is for the benefit of the people. It is a selfish thing. How can a sensible person approve the building of a motor park inside a school?”
Correspondences from Uruk Uso village council, the Head Mistress of Government School 1 Uruk Uso and the Education Secretary in Ikot Ekpene, indicate that Mr. Nsikak Ekong, sited the motor park within the school without the consent and approval of the village, the school nor the State Universal Basic Education Board.
The Chairman of Ikot Ekpene local government area, Mr. Unyime Etim, had in a letter referenced TLG/ADM/13/S.I/297, with the title, “request for land for the establishment of constituency project”, asked Uruk Uso community to donate a land for the sitting of an anonymous project.
The letter reads, “the Local Government Council in partnership with the member representing Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara, Essien Udim federal constituency in the National Assembly have attracted a federal project to the Local Government Area. This project when completed will serve as a means of empowering our youths, reduce the rate of youths restiveness and also eliminate poverty and redundancy of our youths within the local government”.
“In view of the above, and as part of government determinations in establishing the project within the urban areas, to serve as a central point connecting the entire local government, I therefore, request for a parcel of land from the village to ensure that establishment of this project that will serve as a golden opportunity for development and empowerment.”
The village head of Uruk Uso said they wrote back to the local government chairman asking him to state the nature of the project that land so requested would be used for, but their letter was not responded to.
The letter by the village council dated 21st December, 2020 reads in part, “Sir permit us to say that Uruk Uso village has a land and is willing to donate to your government for developmental purposes, but we need to know what project you want to site so as to know which area of land we donate, and a memorandum of understanding signed after your meeting with the village council and site inspection conducted”.
After showing journalists the village council’s reply to the local government chairman’s request for a land, the village head added that the council chairman “knew that if he said it is motor park, no body would accept it”, hence the reason they did not respond to the village council’s request for information on the nature of the project.
Despite reports to the Akwa Ibom State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, by the Head Mistress of the school, Mrs. Arit Tom Akpaoko and the Education Secretary in Ikot Ekpene local government area, Ms. Freda Umoh, the state government failed to stop the construction of the motor park on the school land.
Groups in Ikot Ekpene said they are disappointed in Mr. Nsikak Ekong’s arbitrariness, stressing that sitting a motor park within a school land smacks of insensitivity especially from a proprietor of a school.
A youth group, Ikot Ekpene Youth Leadership Front, said shrouding a constituency project in secrecy indicates that the lawmaker was trying to cover up something.
The group accused Nsikak Ekong of attempting to use phoney constituency project to grab community land and vowed to resist his antics.
The group in a letter said, “…we are disappointed in the actions of Rt. Hon. Barr. Nsikak Ekong. We think that community involvement in the implementation of a constituency project is an integral part of open contracting and beneficial ownership of any project. It amounts to waste of scarce resources to bring a project and throw it on a community because experience has shown that such project where the benefiting community was not part of its conceptualization and implementation are usually left as monuments.
“We are disappointed because we think our dear Rt. Hon. Nsikak Ekong, who is a proprietor of a polytechnic should know that a school environment needs absolute tranquility. We are afraid that the noise pollution and the attendant ennui of such a place as motor park will filter into the porous school environment. We therefore call on the State Government to stop the operation of the motor park on the school land.”
However, Mr. Nsikak Ekong, has insisted that the village donated the land for the motor park project but could not present evidence to prove his claim.
“The village council donated the land to the council to build and the (local government) council donated the land to me to build an altra-modern motor park.”
“If you come to Ikot Ekpene, it is an eyesore. Around the Four Point by Sheraton hotel, cars are packed everywhere”, the federal lawmaker said on phone trying to buttress the need for the motor park project.
• Nsikak Ekong’s aide threatens journalists, village head
One Mr. Emmanuel Umoette, Personal Assistant to the National Assembly member threatened journalists who were investigating the land-grabbing allegation against his boss.
Umoette, speaking through the cellphone of the National Assembly member warned our reporter who phoned Mr. Nsikak Ekong, to get his side of the story, to steer clear of Uruk Uso.
“You are not from Uruk Uso, this is an Uruk Uso issue, so steer clear from it.”
Umoette also reportedly went and assaulted the village head of Uruk Uso, Eteidung Akpan Udo Odung, for speaking to this reporters.
The village head confirmed that the lawmaker’s aide came to his palace and rend abuses on his parents.
“Yes, he came here and insulted me. He told me that God will punish my parents”, the village head confirmed.
However, Mr. Nsikak Ekong, later phoned this reporters and apologize to them for the abuses and threats on them by his aide.
• State of the project
Barely, two months after the implementation of the project, part of the project area has been overgrown by weeds.
During a visit to the site of the project over the weekend, taxis were seen loading Ikot Ekpene to Uyo at the site.
However, the title of the project seen on a signage hoisted at the site reads, ‘road, electricity and water by special intervention’ and does not include a motor park.
The project is a Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, job awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
Attempt by this reporters to contact the contractor implementing the project to find out all the components of the project was unsuccessful because the project signage does not include the address of the contractor.
Two indigenes of Uruk Uso who provided unskilled labour during the implementation of the project said they do not have the contact of the contractor of the project.