Left to fate: Inside Ukelle, Cross River’s community, where residents endure nightmares over bad roads, other basic amenities

By Lukpata James

The realisation of Ukelle road project has become a mere dream as no succour from the Federal Government is in sight to improve the plights of the people. For long, the bad state of road has hindered the socio-economic development of the area. There is no doubt that the Yahe-Wanokom-Wanikade Benue boarder road that link parts of Cross River Communities and with Oju Local Government Area of Benue State  is according to government policy a throng A road by common sense.

But lack of political will and unwholesome policies have made construction of the road an unrealistic project for years. If not anything, the poor state of the road is indicative of dysfunctional representation in the area which has inflicted untold hardships on those at the grassroots.

For the record, Ukelle people constitute a state constituency with six political wards, enormous voting strength. Their major occupation is farming and some of the major crops that they produce include: yam, garri, rice, coco yam, ground beans among others.

As efforts by successive governments in Cross River State to provide the people of the region a tarred and motorable road have not yielded any positive result, the condition of condition continues to worsen everyday especially during the raining season.

For instance, it takes commuters less than two hours to convey farm produce from the popular Wanikade market to Abakaliki but during raining season it will take more than 7 days on the same road to get to Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State Capital.

It appears that both past and present representatives of the Ukelle people in the National and State Assemblies care less about the needs of their constituents as evident from the lack of a motorable road in the region, this is a clear pointer of malfeasance in governance as  non  of the representatives has raised a motion that captures the road as part of the major needs of the people for several decades of its existence.

In spite of several efforts by successive governments of Cross River State from the era of Mr Donarld Duke, Senator Liyel  Imoke to the present Governor of the state,  Prof. Ben Ayade, the story remains the same. A chat with  some leaders from various wards that made up the Yala II state constituency revealed lack of effective representation and people oriented leadership is responsible for the neglect.

However, Governor Ayade, like his predecessors, promised the Ukelle people during his campaign that he will provide them with a tarred road hence, the signing of the contract papers for the construction of the 36 kilometres  Yahe-Wanokom-Wanaikade-Wanihem-Benue link road in Yala LGA worth 3.8 billion naira. According to the commissioner for works in charge of the project, Engr Dane Osim-Asu ”the project will be executed usig direct labour with Sydney Construction Nigeria Limited as service providers”.

 Cross River State Commissioner for Works, Engr. Dane Osim-Asu (L) exchanging contract documents with the General Manager, Sydney Construction Limited, Mr. Fady Fady (R) for the construction of a 36 Kilometers Yahe-Wanakom-Benue link road at Government House Calabar, Friday. (Credit: GHC/Dan Williams)

In what appears to be dream like a dream come true, during the ground breaking ceremony at Yahe, the Cross River State House of Assembly member representing the constituency, Hon Ogana Lukpata, has this to say, “today is the fulfillment of that social contract that you entered with the Ukelle people,in fulfillment of your promise to the people ,I believe that his excellency the former Governor ­(Senator Lyel Imoke)will be very happy. The people of Ukelle would be superlatively happy”.

Also, the former commissioner for LGA affairs in the state, Hon. John Ulafor and the Immediate past Chairman of Yala LGA Hon. Mike Usibe expressed their gratitude to the state government unbehalf of the people of Ukelle for keeping to the promises.

But as time passes by, the Sydney Construction Nigeria Ltd that was used as direct labour were seen evacuating  their equipment from the site two weeks after the commencement of work. Meanwhile, the member representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituencies in the lower House Hon. Agom Jarigbe Agom had earlier in 2015 moved a motion in the House in respect of the said road where he had overwhelming support of his colleagues who immediately directed the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing through its committee on works to reconstruct the Yala-Ukelle –Igede road.

Again during the 2017 communal  crisis between two sisters communities Wanikade and Waninihem within the constituency, there were lots of promises from the state and federal government throught the Minister of Interior General Hamzad Dambazau rtd on the  need to construct a tarred road within the region to ease movement and improve economic and the lives of the people yet nothing has happened.

Just last year Hon. Cynthia Akasi, a member representing the Ukelle Yala II State Constituency in the state house of assembly made another attempt to grade the road as part of her contribution to the area only to worsen the deplorable state of the road now that rain is here.

Its current state

The big question or perhaps the questions that may largely remain unanswered include but not limited to the following:

Why is the lack of political will to construct and tarred  the UKelle- Benue link road being treated with kids glove?

As a defunct development centre in 1979 that later became a  State constituency that formed Yala LGA with a recognized federal status, why does the road and other social amenities remain unattended to?

Having produced the first paramount ruler of Yala LGA, state assembly members, commissioners at various times and one-time PDP State deputy Chairman etc what then could be responsible for the set backs in the region?

With our voting strength, shouldn’t it be an advantage for us as a nation to put up a strong political bargaining that will ameliorate our plights?

What happen that no single individual or group from UKelle got the gut to raise their  eye brows to challenge the lack of completion of the Ukelle road each time?

Now that the road is completely cut off, if it happens that there’s another election on the horizon, will UKelle be visited by aspirants for consultation and campaign?

There is no doubt that we are part of NDDC by geographical location but in terms of social amenities and infrastructure UKelle has lost her State constituency status to a mere political appendage.

UKelle the Yala II state constituency truly needs help from both federal and state governments. We are living in squalor, schools and decaying health facilities with poor equipment. In fact, we are surviving through personal effort yet our tons of agricultural produce are rotting away due to lack of motorable road.

4 COMMENTS

  1. UKELLE road which is a federal road and the shortest linkage between Cross Rover State at the Yala Local Government Area axis and Benue State at the Oju Local Government Area axis. The presence of Federal has never been felt by the inhabitants of Ukelle right from inception on infrastructural development despite being the largest area with revenue generation in Yala Local Government (with a defunct Ukelle Local Government prior to the creation of Yala Local Government Area). Ukelle road has been a death trap for so many including the ICRC team that went on intervention program sometimes ago. Ukelle people are majorly farmers and business men but the bad state of its road has made life unbearable. Their food produce can’t be sold or move out due to the hellish condition of the road despite having a governor from the northern part of Cross River which Ukelle belongs. Some of radical thinkers are of the view that Ukelle is ignored or treated as outcast simply because Ukelle has been the only constituency in the state without a representative in the National Assembly to table its matters. An Ukelle man or woman has never been represented in in the Senate or House of Representative since the existence of mankind. Even in the state Ukelle people are often given merger appointments with no impact on its people. Ukelle people are often deceived to sell out their trust in support of other constituencies during election with the hope of gaining back same support in subsequent elections but often time it becomes a nightmare as they are sidelined. Ukelle people are crying out with loud voice and begging the Federal Government to intervene on its road which is a federal project and to also afford it an opportunity to have a voice of its own in the National Assembly.

  2. UKELLE road which is a federal road and the shortest linkage between Cross River State at the Yala Local Government Area axis and Benue State at the Oju Local Government Area axis. The presence of Federal has never been felt by the inhabitants of Ukelle right from inception on infrastructural development despite being the largest area with revenue generation in Yala Local Government (with a defunct Ukelle Local Government prior to the creation of Yala Local Government Area). Ukelle road has been a death trap for so many including the ICRC team that went on intervention program sometimes ago. Ukelle people are majorly farmers and business men but the bad state of its road has made life unbearable. Their food produce can’t be sold or move out due to the hellish condition of the road despite having a governor from the northern part of Cross River which Ukelle belongs. Some of radical thinkers are of the view that Ukelle is ignored or treated as outcast simply because Ukelle has been the only constituency in the state without a representative in the National Assembly to table its matters. An Ukelle man or woman has never been represented in in the Senate or House of Representative since the existence of mankind. Even in the state Ukelle people are often given merger appointments with no impact on its people. Ukelle people are often deceived to sell out their trust in support of other constituencies during election with the hope of gaining back same support in subsequent elections but often time it becomes a nightmare as they are sidelined. Ukelle people are crying out with loud voice and begging the Federal Government to intervene on its road which is a federal project and to also afford it an opportunity to have a voice of its own in the National Assembly.

  3. The real issue is that, over the years, Ukelle constituency has been unlucky to have very poor representation in state the house of assembly and none at the federal level. Often at time these representatives were forced on us by the
    government in power not elected by the people. These people begin to think that they have been employed by government not elected by the people, therefore, they owe their allegiance to the government that appointed them not the people they represent. They settle down and start amassing wealth for their cronies and relatives and forget the people. The way forward; we should insist on electing our own genuine representatives and resist any government appointed representatives. We should recall any of them that do not have the interest of our people at heart. We should name and shame our bad leaders openly so that others will learn. This can be done without use of violence. We have some sound journalists from Ukelle who can help us draw attention to governments by constantly highlighting our problems. This they can done by using either the print or electronic media.

  4. It very unfair that since inception the ukelle people has been this neglected, ukelle at this point have to speak in one voice,together we can be more stronger to handle matters like this concerning the interest of the people,,, our main problem is even our so call leaders because of what they will eat and sustain with their families and followers they have totally refused to be useful to the entire ukelle people,,, ukelle we must start saying no and stop giving our blessings to the opposed leaders to us, is high time we start electing our own leaders so that we can hold them accountable or responsible if matters arising

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Latest Posts

BBNaija 2020: Meet Ozo, first male head of house

Ozo has won this week's Head of House (HoH) game! He becomes the first male HoH and the first Housemate to complete the game. He...

Social Housing and the Spirit of Jakande in Cross River

By Jerome-Mario Utomi Justice according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is centrally a matter of how individuals are treated, it is also possible to speak...

BBNaija 2020: Ka3na, Lilo become first housemates to be evicted 

Ka3na and Lilo have been evicted from the Big Brother Naija Lockdown Show. The two housemates were evicted at the first eviction show of...

Blood in your hands

By Gabriel Agbo “I didn’t do it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer. ... You’re killing an...