Residents of Ikot Obio Atai in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have expressed agony they face due to perennial flooding ravaging the community.
Many of them who are indigent members of the community, said since they couldn’t afford money to relocate to another safer area, they have devised a palliative means of scooping flood water in their rooms each time it rains and continued with their normal activities in the room.
The flood, it was gathered, has sacked the village head of the community, Obong Mkpong Okon Mkpong and about 500 residents in the area as well as submerged over 120 houses.
One of the residents, Ekpe Sunday, who spoke with journalists that visited the area on Wednesday, said, “my room is flooded anytime it rains. When it rains for like two or three hours, we relocate from our rooms. If you were here yesterday when it rained you wouldn’t have come up to this point.”
“I have no other option than to live here because we don’t have money to rent new accommodation or build new houses, therefore after every rain we scoop water and go back to our wet rooms.”
Also, a garri seller in the area who simply identified herself as Mercy, lamented that the flood has sacked many residents of the area and crippled their businesses as students of UNIUYO, who were the major tenants in the area as well as patrons of businesses have left the environment.
The village head, Chief Mkpong, whom the flood sacked from his palace at 85 Urua Ekpa, said the problem was beyond the village capacity to handle, noting that the community has written several letters to successive state governments but nothing has been done.
”The community has written to the government till date, nothing has happened, Since 1999, nothing has happened. If it was possible the community would have addressed the problem. It is difficult for us. Governor Udom Emmanuel should come and help us. We are all members of PDP. It is sad that even the village head ‘s house is under water and yet they say that Akwa Ibom is beautiful,” he said.
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Meanwhile, member representing Itu State Constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Honourable Kufre Edidem, who is also an indigene of Ikot Obio Atai, said he was the chairman of Itu Local Government Council during the administration of Godswill Akpabio when the flood menace started.
He recalled that all the state government did was to refer him to the then deputy governor, who facilitated officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to visit the village and shared relief materials among the victims.
Edidem claimed that as a member of the house of assembly, he had brought the state Commissioner for Environment and Works to inspect the flood site.
The lawmaker also said he has forwarded the complaint to the state government, expressing the hope that work on the flood site will be included in the 2022 Akwa Ibom State budget.
Asked why he had not brought the issue before the assembly under Matter of Urgent Public Importance, Edidem retorted, “Do you want the thing on the floor or you want the problem solved? So if you want the problem solved, it is when you are a legislator and you don’t have a good relationship with the executive and the executive does not listen to you, that is when you bring matter to the floor of the house to catch the attention of the executive.
“But if the executive is already listening to you: the commissioner for finance, commissioner for environment followed me, they made the engineering drawings and they are working on next year’s budget, and it has been put in the budget, so what do you want the matter on the floor? Is it for sensationalism or what?” —