Heavy flooding caused by torrential rainfall around the city of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, last week fired up public anger against the administration of Governor Godswill Akpabio, with most residents trapped within the chaotic traffic in the city publicly making jest of the governor’s ‘uncommon transformation’ slogan.
Mr. Akpabio, the two-term governor of Akwa Ibom State, is well known for praising self as the man behind ‘the uncommon transformation’, a boastful reference to his administration’s modest effort at building modern infrastructures like roads, bridges, a few public buildings for government use as offices and a cinema within the state capital.
But the curse of heavy rain these days is pushing the people to show just how low they think of Gov Akpabio’s claims.
During the heavy rainfall people in Uyo were busy taking photos of a city ravaged by flood and posting them along with their satirical comments on facebook and other social networking sites.
Princess Etim, a female journalist residing in Uyo is one of the few who were quick to post on her facebook page, a photo of the flood on Atiku Abubakar Avenue, Uyo. Etim took the photograph with her BlackBerry Smartphone, and mockingly tagged it as ‘Uncommon Atiku River’.
Commentators – most of them journalists living in Uyo – who responded to the facebook post, were quick to catch the joke and also used the word ‘uncommon’ to poke fun at Gov Akpabio’s most familiar phrase.
“The flood on Atiku Abubakar Avenue not bigger than uncommon IBB River,” says Helen John, whose facebook profile indicates she is an assistant editor with the Akwa Ibom State-owned The Pioneer newspaper.
“The one at Nsikak Edouk (avenue) is uncommon too, but (it is) the largest river in Africa,” writes Etorobong Ekpo who works as a principal reporter with a local private newspaper known as Quest.
The paper is said to be owned by a journalist-turned politician who currently serves as a chairman of a local government council in Akwa Ibom State.
A post from David Augustine, the editor-in-chief of Weekly Insight, reads: “ ‘After just three minutes of rain in Uyo, our drainage system (the best in Africa) would do the magic and it will be so dry, you would think it never rained’ Who said this and to whom and when….?”
And another post reads: “Akwa Ibom is working jare…you guys aren’t seen nothing yet…uncommon rain, uncommon flood… ado ok!”
Gov Akpabio is widely celebrated in the local media and the Peoples Democratic Party for “governing Akwa Ibom State well”.
But residents say beyond the facade, the poverty and unemployment rate in the state remained among the highest in the country.
Local contractors are routinely ignored for multinationals in the execution of infrastructural projects, and residents complain of huge capital flights from the state.
The largest employer of labour in the state remain the civil service which is already overstaffed.
Most state-owned industries have closed shop and the state is not known to have attracted any substantial investment in spite of Governor Akpabio’s several overseas trip in search of foreign investors.
The Anglican Bishop of Uyo Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, recently advised Governor Akpabio to fight the widespread unemployment and poverty in the state.