The popular Unyeada Fish Festival was celebrated with fanfare as traditional rulers, youths and other dignitaries witnessed the one day festival to showcase the culture of the Andoni people.
Unyeada ancient town took the centre stage as it reenacted the fishing prowess of the Andonis.
A member of the Unyeada Kingdom Elites Assembly, Mr Gogo Abel-Ujile, chronicled the history and significance of the Fish Festival (Ijok Irin) to the Obolo people of Unyeada.
He noted that the festival served as one remarkable way to separate the men from the boys in a predominantly fishing population for a people that occupy the longest stretch on the coastline of West Africa.
On behalf of the kingdom and the king himself, Gogo Abel-Ujile requested the Andoni LGA to officially adopt the Unyeada Fish Festival as government recognised event.
The festival, he pointed out, is an annual event to mark Unyeada’s fishing season between the months of July and August.
In his speech, Executive Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Hon. Erastus Awortu gave plaudits to the people of Unyeada Kingdom, especially the chiefs who have been united in the pursuit of peace, noting that ‘without peace, we could not have gathered here (Unyeada) to celebrate this age-old tradition in this festive setting’.
Awortu expressed appreciation to God, Governor Nyesom Wike, the people of Andoni and especially the chiefs and youths of the kingdom for the co-operation he had when he came in quest for peace on assumption of office as chairman of council.
For more accelerated development, he called for further co-operation from the people and warned the youths against any attempt to re-establish illegal oil-bunkering activities in the area. That, he stressed, was completely unacceptable.
Highlight of the event was the conferment of Chieftaincy titles on two illustrious sons of the soil, the Council boss, Hon Erastus Awortu and Amb. Bartholomew Ephraim by the Unyeada Kingdom in appreciation of the sacrificial roles they played in bringing back peace to the kingdom and its communities.
There was numerous traditional plays and dances to spice the festival as youths and young men enacted fishing skills for all to see.
Oyigbo-Afam Road: Residents Seek Quick Completion
Barely one year after the Oyigbo-Afam Road rehabilitation and expansion was commenced by the Chief Nyesom Wike administration, residents of the area have urged the contractor to quickly complete the project.
The project stretches from the Afam-Oyigbo Junction in Oyigbo Town down to Afam main town, where the Afam Power station and state-owned Cassava Processing Plant is located. It covers over five kilometres of road that connects remote villages like Obete and Azuogu which borders the Imo River in the local government area.
Before the current effort to expand the road, the route was in a sorry state such that the residents had to seek alternative roads in the adjoining villages to access their communities. From Umu Soya Junction down to Mini Nwanyi, the road is filled with craters and potholes that could swallow tricycles and other smaller vehicles that ply the route.
To ameliorate the suffering of residents, the governor after a visit to the area last year awarded the contract to rehabilitate the road to LuBriks Construction. Without hesitation, the indigenous construction company was mobilised to site and work commenced.
Initial remedies were done by the construction firm to fill bad portions of the road, especially between Umo Soya and Kom-Kom railway axis where deep craters make it difficult for vehicles to drive through. The remediation work paved way for construction of a much bigger drainage on both sides of the road to curb flooding which eats up the road.
During a recent visit to the road by The Tide Metro to the area, residents are of the view that construction is slow as the rainy season gathers storm following few weeks of August break. From the Market Road down to Afam Junction, though works is still ongoing, the road is filled with mud and debris, coupled with a roadside market that spills from the Oyigbo main market into the road.
David Cosmos, a resident of Afam Road told The Tide Metro that they are hopeful that the project would be completed before the end of the present administration. “We thank Governor Wike for remembering us, but work is still slow and the rains are here again.”
Cosmos said the road is of huge economic and social importance to Oyigbo people because it is the major access to the council headquarters at Okoloma in Afam.
He lamented that the remediation work done by the construction firm to help vehicles drive through has broken down due to the rains and that there is need to increase the pace of work before the year ends.
“Most of the businesses are seriously affected,” Cosmos stated, “the mud is so much that people have to walk by the side, even vehicles are finding it difficult to drive through.”
From investigations, many residents living along the Afam –Oyigbo Road have moved to the interior, while some relocated to Port Harcourt. The Tide Metro further learnt that though the road condition contributed to the situation, the area does not have power or potable water as well.
In addition to lack of basic amenities, the cost of rent has equally gone down in the area as a room now goes for N3,000 per month, while a bedroom flat goes for between N70, 000 to N100, 000 per annum. Many of those who live in the area buy water from houses that have borehole, and a bucket of water is sold for N20.
Lamenting the dwindling business fortunes in his computer shop, Chidiebere Iheanyichuku said, “apart from the poor road condition, lack of power worsens the situation since the shop runs a standby generating plant. “Without electricity we can’t do business and we spend more buying fuel at high cost.”
Most shops along the road have been abandoned due to flooding and lack of electricity. The Tide Metro was told that the area had been cut off from power supply for the past two years. Shop rent now goes for N120, 000 per annum despite the situation.
Iheanyichuku said commercial motor operators have doubled their fares as they pay N100 as against N50 from the junction to Kom-Kom market. He therefore appealed to the government to compel the contractors to resume work to reduce their plight.
Along the market road, street traders spill into the road and with the rains, the road is muddy and filthy, thus, making traffic difficult for vehicles to go through. On both sides of the road, food stuff sellers and traders of second hand clothing adorn the pedestrian walkway.
Blessing Charles, who hawks vegetable told The Tide Metro that they pay tickets to be allotted space on the roadside. “They have community ticket, local government ticket and task force here and we pay them before they would allow us sell.”
Mrs Charles expressed worry over the ongoing drainage construction along the road. “There is no day, one customer or trader doesn’t fall into this drainage,” she said, “please, let the contractor do something to cover it.”
In the same vein, Chuwuebuka Nwadike who sells foodstuffs pleaded that the drainage should be quickly completed to avert accidents, “as you can see, the drainage is deep and if you fall inside, there is no way you will not be injured.”
Nwadike told The Tide Metro that the market does not have amenities and is responsible for the filth in the market. “We need power, water, but most important for us is the road. If they complete the road we would be happy,” he said.
By: Kevin Nengia
Kaani Town Begging For Govt’s Presence
As one passes the Birabi Memorial Grammar School in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area, a road veers from the left hand-side of the road beside the High Court premises, into Kaani community.
Going to Kaani with a motorcycle is barely up to five minutes and is just 50 meters from the junction. The community is separated by a narrow bridge from Bori metropolis. It has a calm and serene outlook with few paved roads leading to the only secondary school in the community. The road terminates at Sogho, linking the East West Road, leading to Akwa Ibom State.
Apart from lack of paved roads, Kaani does not have electricity, functional health centre or potable water, and one expects that its proximity to Bori would attract modern amenities to the ancient town.
On the left hand side of the major road in the town, another path leads to an untarred road leading to Methodist Church, one of the early churches that came into Kaani, that same road leads to Kaani II. Delimitation of Kaani was for administrative convenience, according to Chief Joseph Dinee. “The missionaries did it for administrative purpose. During one of the harvest programmes, they divided the community into Kaani 1 and Kaani II, but they are one and the same people- Teyor and Gbor people.
After moving round town to get a feel of the community, the traditional ruler of Kaani, Mene Barikpoa Apere, Mene- Bua Kaani told The Tide Metro that the situation of Kaani has been a challenge over the years, “maybe if we had somebody in government, we would not be having what we are passing through now.”
He continued, “Ironically, Kaani is the largest community in Khana Local Government Area, and yet we do not have power, water and hospital.” The only secondary school in this community was built in 1978 and was through a community effort,” he added.
The traditional ruler recalled that during one of the visits of the Governor to Bori last year, during which he was honoured by Ogoni people, he promised to connect us to national grid, but that has not been fulfilled.
The quest to provide power to the community has been a long and unfruitful one, recalled Elder Clarkson Agara. “We have pursued this matter for many years. It is like biblical prayer to continue in prayers. The unfortunate aspect of it is that while our neighbour, Bori is connected to power, there is none here.”
The community leader, Clarkson Agara told The Tide Metro that there have been attempts to reach out to agencies of government as he blamed the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for failing to complete the electrification project. “We learnt that a budget and proposal was made for the project. We have contacted the commission and sent delegates and nothing has happened”.
A similar tale was stated by Pastor Gbaranor John, as he recalled that the community started pushing for power during the administration of Sir Peter Odili. “The community visited the governor, a number of times and shortly after a meeting, a survey of the area was conducted and that was the last we heard about it.”
Mene Barikpoa Apere is not happy that all these efforts have failed to yield results.
We are an agrarian community he told The Tide Metro and power is basic to most of our activities.
The traditional ruler emphasised that power is key to development and without it; it is difficult for the community to move forward.
He lamented that most of the small scale businesses are dependent on power. These include barbing saloons, hair dressing, welding and other activities that require electricity. As he reasoned that water boreholes also need to be powered to provide water.
In addition to that, he made a plea for government to complete the abandoned health centre in the community.
He added, “I want to believe that the next government would give us attention, but it is not too late for our governor to fulfill his pledge for now.”
By: Kevin Nengia
RSG Selling Breastfeeding To Women
There are fears that breastfeeding may go extinct going by recent statistics of nursing mothers who breastfeed their new borns for at least six months.
Member of a committee on Breastfeeding Week at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), Nurse Aganah Ebirien told The Tide Metro that the campaign to raise awareness is across all health facilities in the state.
She expressed fear that, “there is a threat to breast feeding and it’s fading away.”
Nurse Ebirien who is popularly referred to as “Mama Breast” in RSUTH lamented that if nothing is done now many women may see breastfeeding as archaic.
“Studies have shown that many nursing mothers because of their work schedules and the obsession to look younger with standing breasts don’t give their babies breast milk” Ebirien observed.
She told The Tide Metro that these new posture of women about breast feeding are mostly “myths” and these myths are big barriers to embracing breastfeeding.
For this year, the theme “Step Up Breastfeeding, Educate and Support” is aimed at raising awareness and discouraging all forms of attitude that puts barrier to the culture of breast feeding.
Nurse Ebirien is miffed that many nursing mothers ignorantly do not know huge benefits of breast feeding. “One of the benefits is that it increases bonding between a baby and his mother.”
For her, it’s not enough to breastfeed but “exclusive breastfeeding” is key “When I mean exclusive breast feeding, I mean giving the baby only breast milk for the first six months without water or glucose water”.
She explained that apart from reducing financial burden on the family in the buying of infant formula milk, exclusive breast feeding boosts the brain and intelligence of babies.
In addition to that, she stressed that the immunity of the child is also fortified. “A child who is well breast fed hardly fall sick, and that too reduce expenses on family which results from medical treatment.
Ebirein pointed out that most often mothers throw away the first milk that drops from the breast called ‘colostrum’, that is the most beneficial and rich part of the breast milk, “In the past our grandmother threw it away,” she said.
By: Kevin Nengia
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