By Lukpata James
Ukelle community in Cross River State falls among minority groups like the Tiv, Benin and Idoma in Nigeria. It is a nation that formed part of Yala II State Constituency of Yala Local Government Area of Cross river state. It has unique cultural heritage and beautiful landscape, densely populated and it is an agrarian society that boasts of tones of various agricultural produce.
Ukelle is strategically located, bordering Ebonyi in the West and Benue in the Northern part respectively. Its inhabitants comprises artsans, peasant farmers, civil servant and technocrats very lovely people,easy-going, industrious, hospitable, brave, and fearless. Their language is kukelle with both old and New Testaments of the Bible still in existence as part of the proved that ukelle nation is identifiable.
In some quarters, especially the adjoining neighbours, Ukelle nation is been described and alluded to the strength of the Israelites in the Bible whose population is not much as compared to other most populous Nations but powerful in warfare at all times. Just like the saying in Achebe’s ‘ Arrow Of God’ that never lay a hand on a man that says nothing, the Ukelle custom and tradition forbid ill treatment and attack on innocent people especially strangers living within them even during crisis situation strangers from the enemies’ camp are allow the liberty to move about without any form of molestation.
As an agrarian society, Ukelle Nation contribute about 40 percent each of garri, rice and yam as major agricultural products in Cross River State.
Unarguably, Ukelle nation boasts of several acres of arable land, reserves, up land, large quantity of lime stones and abundant natural resources such as precious stones, huge salt deposit, lead among others that are yet to be harnessed.
If not for the lack of motorable road connecting Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and some North central States such as Benue, Nasarrawa and Plateau as well as the challenges linking neighbouring South East states such as Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra, Ukelle should be a leading economic hub in Cross River State and the South South region.
Like a woman in labour longing for help to survive, Ukelle is in dire need of assistance from the Local Government up to the Federal level to catch up with contemporary opportunities.