-By Unwana Assam.
Ekid nation is one distinct and unique ethnic group, situated in the southern part of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. It is a geopolitical, ethnic group with a minority bloc in the state, unlike Ibibio, Oro.
Ekid is ancestrally made up of Esit Eket and Eket local government areas while Ibeno and Onna are the neighbouring local government areas that do not speak Ekid dialect but form part of the geopolitical constituency. The four local government areas share almost everything in common except the mother tongue (Ekid) that makes Eket and Esit Eket a distinct ethnic group of their own in Akwa Ibom State.
By the judgment of this writer, Ekid nation is one section of Akwa Ibom State that had over the years, shown some levels of lackluster attitude to issues affecting her people. The seeming carefree attitude on life-threatening issues, to me, is a sign of cowardice or timidity that needs urgent liberation because a typical Ekid man is always known for courage, free-spoken, bluntness, and strength.
These attributes culminated from our forebears who lived before us, even in the incorporeal world, they never expected less. Cowardice and licking our wounds were never the quirk of an Ekid person not until politics started eating and digging deep into our flesh and blood where the region started losing her rights. As a matter of fact, the situation of Ekid as an ethnic entity has never been this bad and deteriorated perhaps, it is because of too much observance of table manners and we do not want to be seen as rebels and enemies of “imaginary” progress as once said by Mr. Ephraim Inyang, the then commissioner for works.
We were born to know Eket part of the bloc as a destination for all, a bubbling tourist center but today, the glory had long faded away. As for Esit Eket, different oil companies are trooping in every day, feasting on the God-given resources without the host local government knowing their left to the right other than seeking for leftovers. It was always a dream of everyone, especially first-time visitors to visit this part of the state and see the rich and hospitable nature of Ekid, hence nicknamed “Ekid Idung Afianwe”. The region used to be known for greatness, civilization, economic hub, and infrastructural destination but today, the story has changed and everything is gradually folding up. Today, Ekid as an ethnic group is busy smiling with mouth widely opened in public with the common enemies, celebrating mediocrity and be complaining, murmuring, and crunching behind doors. How long shall we continue like this as a people?
Today, even a day born child knows that all is not well in the geopolitical zone but there has never been a time we come together, team up as a people, as one unified body, and confront the many challenges facing Ekid by way of protest, symposium, retreat, or public lecture, instead, all that the youths and elders do every day is blaming each other. Blaming the past and present leaders why things are the way it is. We have blamed the status quo in the past few years, yet nothing has changed. It seems to be obvious that, the usual blame game tactics have not yielded any positive result, and methinks it is time to take the hit by the storm. We can’t grow as an ethnic group when we are so tied to our comfort zone.
The act of procrastination, envy, hatred, disunity, blame game amongst Ekid people is quite alarming and if this continues, the situation may never be salvaged and the dream of restoring the fading glory of Ekid will still be far from reality.
More so, the elders can not take all the blames. Even the youths also contribute to the suffering and neglect of Ekid today because both in the past and present, the youths have been occupying leadership positions and nothing have they ever done to confront the reality of backwardness facing us today. The blame is for all. We are all at fault.
While other ethnic groups in the state are busy confronting the challenges facing them through protests, petitions to the higher authorities, all Ekid does every day is sitting back and point fingers, blaming elders for all the misfortunes. Other tribes are supporting each other, pushing their own forward, that of Ekid is to hate, betray, and blackmail.
This is not the Ekid that our forefathers fought for. This is not how/where Ekid was supposed to be. We need to stop blaming. We need to stand up and confront our common enemy. We need to come together and speak in one voice. The time is now. The earlier we take the bull by the horns and do it our own way without waiting for anybody, the better for us.
Comrade Unwana Assam is an activist, a good governance advocate, the publisher of newsline9ja.com, and writes from Eket.