By Tom FredFish
I don’t like Victor Antai. Yes, I don’t. Some people say that he is nice, generous and creative. Others opines that he pretends to be nice in order to be likeable depending on his interest at a particular moment. But to me, I stand at the middle. However, let us forget about who Victor Antai is and reflect on his deeds in office. Likable or not, he is versatile and creative. I admire his tenacity and I crave for days ahead when appointed officers can translate government’s agendas into tangible goals that will assist to bring dividends of democracy to the people.
It is no longer news that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in a bid to stamp the state as a tourist destination in line with governor Udom Emmanuel agenda has once again rolled out activities geared at celebrating yuletide as well as ginger the swag of fun loving Akwa Ibomites. It does not end there.
Before now, no visible social or entertaining activity takes place during end of year in Akwa Ibom state apart from the largest choir conglomeration in the world – Akwa Ibom Christmas Carol festival often tagged the “9999 carol night” designed to worship God for his grace during the year.
As the year approaches and as some states in Nigeria and places in the world such as cross River (calabar carnival), Rivers (port Harcourt carnival), Lagos (eko carnival), as well as Rio de Janeirio carnival, carnival of venice, Mardi Gras, Notting Hill Carnival, carnival of Viareggio, and Ivrea Carnival put finishing touches on their annual end of year celebration / carnival, I would have been shocked if with Victor Antai on saddle, the state make us lose the opportunity of showcasing our rich tourism and cultural potentials as well as boost our economy and place cash in the pockets of residents.
But thank God Hon. Antai didn’t disappoint. The multiple of Ukap isua event will afford Akwa Ibom the leeway to exhibit our unexplored heritage sites through their compositions as bands for the carnival. The Blue River Band represents the aesthetic scenery and lush settings of Ukanafun Blue River – a twin stream of water flowing together but never meets; the Rolling Hills Band represents the rolling hills at Itu which in itself is nature best arts and a wonder to behold; while the Beach Town Band represents the deep seated and longest beach line in Africa – Ibeno beach, an alluring site for tourists to unwind and enjoy nature. The beach, apart from being named after a band will play host to a mega festival featuring outdoor games such as the first beach soccer, volley and basketball of its kind in the state. Also among the band is the Bridge Band representing the ‘Bridge of No Return’ where slaves passed through after being bought with no hope of coming back to their mother land. It is a site that gives compelling account of what slaves pass through going out through the shore of the bight of Biafra. And the last band is our own indigenous and most popular spot in Akwa Ibom State – the Plaza Band representing our inland tourist spot deliberately planted in the centre of Uyo, the state capital and adorned with dazzling selection of beautiful, exotic and ornamental plants, water fountains and aesthetic lightings.
With the Ukapisualism put on top gear by the commissioner, Governor Udom have complimented his superior performances from January to December and sealed a deal of confidence with the people. This deal is predicated on the well sought after Christmas event which successive governments have deprived Akwa Ibom people in the past. #Ukapisua is not just an event. It is a signpost to the fact that there is no alternative to celebration. Thus, what are we celebrating?
Akwa Ibom will be celebrating Jesus Christ – whose birth made us free. We would be Ukapisualizing superior performances by the state government led by Udom Emmanuel, we would be thanking God for promises fulfilled by governor Udom. What are the promises? Akwa Ibom youth are now engaged in meaningful ventures such as skills acquisition, quality education and are gradually becoming masters of their destinies cutesy of the dakkada philosophy. We would thank God that our soil can now harvest tomatoes, cucumber, garden eggs and other essential agricultural produce. We would be thanking God that where ever the word syringes and meters are pronounce in Africa, Akwa Ibom State is the first point of emphasis.
Worth celebrating are the hundreds of kilometers of roads constructed by this government, and the industrial take off in the state that includes the peacock paint, Akwa Toothpick and pencils production, etc. Worth mentioning is the rising of the Akwa United football Club from absurdist position – relatively unknown club in the Nigerian football league to a 2-time national champion in less than three years? The list is inexhaustible.
Apart from the celebration of Christ and thanking God for his enablement throughout the year, Ukapisua is significant in other ways. Firstly, is the fact that it would led to the influx of people from all works of life into the state as their visitation will lead to the experience of first hand ethnic coloration of our beautiful Ibibio, annang and oro cultures. These cultural homogeneity has helped bind Akwa Ibom people together with common identity in areas as cuisines, dressing, dances, songs, beliefs and folktales. It would afford other citizens of Nigeria and the world to see Akwa Ibom people as very industrious, resourceful, peaceful, honest and hospitable, as they are bound to also enjoy the most favourable climate, geography and security during Ukapisua.
Ukapisua will also boost local sales and patronage of our endless list of recreational facilities and hotels spread across the state just as the Christmas village put in place at the Ibibio Unity Field, off Udoudoma Avenue will help local traders acquire and save considerable profit to start next year. The most intriguing and fascinating aspect of Ukapisua is its ability to change the social and marital status of ambitious and hardworking visitors because our young, pretty, tutored, and well cultured ladies are roundly available for marriage to deserving men from any parts of the world.