A’Ibom community disagrees with govt over relocation of market

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The planned relocation of market by Akwa Ibom State government to pave the way for a face lift has generated hostile reactions from leaders and stakeholders of Ikot Ebok community in Eket Local Government Area of the state.

The government of Deacon Udom Emmanuel has been launching life-touching projects on roads, water, electricity and tackling security issues in the administration’s drive to take the dividends of democracy to the grassroots, but met occasional resistance from community leaders and youths over issues of appropriate compensations.

It will be recalled that issues of compensation had led to protests in different communities including Eket, Etinan, Ibiono Ibom, Okobo and Oron but the government, through the Ministry of Works superintended by the Commissioner, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-eyen, said that no amount of opposition would deter the administration’s quest to carry all communities along in the development process.

However, the latest one is the planned relocation of the Affiong Etuk market, a renowned market in Eket, to its proposed new site at Aka Ikasang in Ikot Ebok village, which has been generating furore among community dwellers.

A protest letter to Governor Emmanuel, through their lawyer, Victor Batta, on behalf of the Chief–in-Council of the area, read in part: “Asa Ikasang proposed for the relocation of the market belongs to the Ikot Ebok community, and as such it would have been pertinent for proper discuss with the Chief-in Council and other stakeholders in the community before attempting to take over the land for the aforementioned purpose.”

Although the leaders said they were not opposed to government’s development plans for their area, they argued that the new site for the market was “very inappropriate due to the fact that the land is too small to harbour the large number of people that come from Abia and Imo States to transact businesses”, adding that the place was a proposed playground for Mobil Pegasus Primary School located within the vicinity.

The community leaders have however, expressed their readiness to provide alternative piece of land, large enough to accommodate the envisaged crowd, explaining that the government would take responsibility of acquiring the land and payment of necessary compensation.

In a related development, parents of Pegasus School Eket, have threatened to withdraw their children if the market is relocated to the proposed site, noting that situating the market at Asa Ikasang would threaten the educational development of the young ones, endanger their well being and makes the entire environment not conducive for learning.

Speaking with the President, Nkpo Mbaha Ndito Ekid, a socio-cultural group in Eket, Mr Ekid Etukudoh, he described the action of government in trying to relocate the ancient market without proper consultation, as an act capable of denying the Ikot Ebok community of Mobil’s presence, “due to the fact that if parents withdraw their children from the school, Mobil might be forced to relocate the school from our community”

.He warned that “the youths of Ikot Ebok will resist any form of imposition by the state government to relocate the market” and vowed to mobilise the youths to disrupt activities of government that does not receive the blessings of community elders and stakeholders.

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