THE AKWA IBOM OF MY DREAM
“Ibibio Union” is a foremost socio-cultural organization formed in 1928, transformed into a goal oriented institution in 1948 with the sole aim of forming a state of their own the “Akwa Ibom of my dream”. Immediately after the south eastern state was renamed “Cross River State”, it gave the Ibibio Union more hush for a state of their own as they were not satisfy with the changes made.
The creation brought celebration and joy. It was that of freedom, liberty and emancipation on 23rd September 1987 a day long awaited by the Ibibio union. A day the collective dreams and aspirations of the people came to reality as Akwa Ibom State, the “Land of Promise” was finally created by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, after almost four decades of negligence and sustained agitation. Today Akwa Ibom State is one of the highest oil and gas-producing state in the country with a population of approximately 5 million people.
One would think that am a potential historian but am neither an anthropologist nor an historian, but as the saying goes “if the purpose of a thing is not known then abuse is inevitable”. I ventured into flipping the pages of history about my beloved State, trying to figure out the purpose of her creation and it led me into a deep sleep and in my sleep this is what I saw “The Akwa Ibom of my dream”.
I saw a cluster of people with different colours but in unity as one, sticking together like glue and undivided like a bunch of broom. I heard the Annang, Eket, Oron, and Uyo communicating fluently with one common language understood and accepted by all. I saw political parties coming together to form two solid parties like that of the American Republican Party and the Democratic Party. I saw investors and business men trooping into our River terminals, buying and dispatching goods from our international sea port at Mbo LGA. I saw shopping malls as big as that of South Africa and Dubai in every town, I ventured into our stadium and was thrilled by the sight of our ancient cultural dance like Asian Ubo Ikpa, Nkere Ebe, Oko, Ebre, Ndok Ufok Ebe, etc. I saw an Akwa Ibom where the orphans, motherless and fatherless didn’t feel the absence of their parents, as everyone joined hands with the government to cater for their upbringing and education.
I saw a state with the best roads in the country, companies and Science Park bringing in technology to our door steps. I saw small and medium scale business everywhere, acro-allied industries processing palm oil, coconut oil, rubber, coco seeds, fish ponds etc. As I tried to wipe my eyes to see if all this was a reality, then I woke up to realize it was a clear vision of the ongoing transformation that Architect Obong Victor Attah and Chief Godswill Akpabio were trying to bring into ours State. It was only then that it dawned on me the purpose of the Ibibio’s coming together to formed Ibibio Union in 1982. The Union was free of hatred and discrimination, leadership was supposed to be based on a capable hands projected by all Akwa Ibomites. There was no agitation for another new State out of Akwa Ibom, there was no yearning for political position just to enrich your pocket and family. I discovered that the Ibibio Union were united like the super eagle squad in the 1994 Olympics.
Today the reverse is the case as the struggle for power and leadership has turned Akwa Ibomites against each other, opposition parties criticizing both the good and bad of the ruling party. Leaders are not being appreciated for their inputs and efforts, Ibibio now hates themselves connoting with the popular saying “Ibibio Isimagha Idem” meaning Ibibio usually don’t love themselves. Yet, in my dream I saw an Ibibio stock that loves themselves, I wish we could go back to the 23th September 1987 mindset and love. We could build on solid rocks the Akwa Ibom of my dream, where the mantle of leadership could be zoned among an Oron man, Annang man, and Uyo man will be treated same as an Eket man with love and respect. I have a dream and in my dream I saw an Akwa Ibom where the labor of our founding fathers and past heroes was never in vain. A state where legends are celebrated. An akwa ibom the old and young will see the need to speak our language coherently and fluently again. An Akwa Ibom free from pulldown syndrome, where leaders create a space for synergy between leaders and citizens (youths inclusive) to live a better life too. Where love, unity and harmony becomes our watchword, an all Akwa Ibomites in the diaspora will freely turned back home and invest in their zone. I dream of an Akwa Ibom where our common language will be recognized alongside the other major languages in Nigerian. Akwa Ibom “the land of promise” is known as one of the peaceful state in the South South, but in my dream I saw an Akwa Ibom that is recognized internationally as the most peaceful state in Nigeria, with tourism sites and attractions too real for investors to ignore. An akwa ibom where our local delicacies like the famous Asa Iwà Edesi: Ibökbot’, Ekpang Iwà, Edita Iwà, Anyàn Ekpang and many other traditional delicacies so numerous to mention, would be prepared and appreciated by our sons and daughters for posterity sake. This and many more constitutes the “Akwa Ibom of my dream” at 35 and beyond.