By Imo-owo Mbede
The word “proud” is the adjective form of “pride,” a noun, which is more often seen in bad light when one looks down on others as inferior to one’s self. In this sense, a person or persons are considered to be proud when they possess or exhibit a vain or exaggerated opinion of self and show no respect for others.
On the other hand, when a person or persons are satisfied with their accomplishment or achievement, or an action that results in a desirable outcome, they can equally be proud. In this latter sense, it is a good thing and the people of Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas – the two geographical blocks which make up Ikono-Ini Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State – are “guilty” of this.
The last nine months has seen a bountiful rain of unprecedented people-centred developmental milestones in the constituency. The elderly, the men, the women, the youth and the children – including the unborn – have either been soaked, splashed at, or at worst, felt droplets of this downpour.
Students and youths in the constituency have been provided opportunities to educational advancement via free registration for the Tertiary Admission Examinations in 2020 and through scholarships within and outside the country. Spontaneous financial assistance have been granted sporadically to students from the constituency in times of urgent need, while educational tours have also been facilitated in addition to the provision of educational equipment and materials including desks and books.
Individuals in the area have received a new lease of life by way of a source of meaningful livelihood either through gainful employment opportunities or thriving businesses. About 100 new jobs have been provided for willing and eligible indigenes at various levels, in various sectors, within and outside the state, which will put food on significantly more tables. Equally significantly, existing and aspiring entrepreneurs have been encouraged to ‘fish’ by themselves courtesy of a millionaire-creating scheme worth a jaw-dropping ~N~100 million, for the current year alone. This is not inclusive of several other random emergency financial supports ensuing from distress calls at times of financial crisis.
Maternal and child health has improved significantly in the constituency specifically in the last four months. Pregnant women within the constituency have been encouraged, through the provision of the necessary cash and material requirements (pre- and post-natal) as incentives, to submit to professional medical care. This has resulted in no less than 25 successful deliveries within the same period. Others with unique ailments have also received support towards alleviating their conditions.
Modalities for construction, renovation and rehabilitation of long dilapidated yet neglected road infrastructure as well as facilities in schools are currently being worked out. The deplorable Uyo Afaha Nkan-Urua Naira-Ikot Nseyen-Ibiaku Ntok Okpo road, the Nkara Obio-Ediene Atai-Osuk Ediene-Udok Atai road, Comprehensive Secondary School, Ndiya, and Lutheran Senior Science Secondary School, Ibakachi, Ukpom, are some of these projects. The constituency has received the attention of the federal government as evident in the presence of officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at sites affected by an unfortunate incident of landslide in some communities in the constituency.
All these, through the effort of an indigene of the area – Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-udo – who represents the constituency at the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly. On the strength of the foregoing, it is safe to say that in the last year, there are not many families, clans or wards within Ikono-Ini Federal Constituency, who have not benefitted directly or indirectly from the innate empathetic and sympathetic disposition of this son of the soil, since he assumed a higher level of responsibility at the Nation’s House of Representatives.
Ukpong-udo has consistently identified personally with his people, by offering a handshake in times of celebration and a shoulder in times of crisis or bereavement; by striving to support improved healthcare delivery, wealth-creation facilitating the provision and rehabilitation of infrastructure, and supporting education – the bedrock of development.
It is therefore understandable why the people of Ikono and Ini are proud. They are as proud that they have a son like Ukpong-udo, as they are of their collective decision on 23rd February 2019 when the unanimously asked him to go forth and bring the dividends of representation back home to the constituency.