Locals called it, “The Devil’s Elbow” and with infamous reason.
The part of the road between the Science College and the Abak River was justifiably dreaded for benighted generations of time.
Although the town had a cemetery, yet that section of the road had set itself up for decades as the unofficial graveyard not only of unfortunate travelers but of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles and bicycles.
It did not matter the age of its victims or the condition of the vehicle. The road was always famished and voraciously so. Its
greed for lives was insatiable. So, ghastly and frequently fatal accidents occurred with a regularity that shot the chill up the spin of travelers who knew the malevolent legend of the road.
It was not only the cliff-like nature of the hill atop which sat the college that scared travelers and sent butterflies fluttering in
their stomachs. There was also the narrow, windy road which blind corners lay twisted
like some venomous, capricious snake ready to ambush and spring a deadly surprise at any given time.
Vehicles going up the cliff often lost heart and came crashing either in the valley below or into the river beneath. Those descending were not spared the cruel fate.
Even the slightest inattention could make the vehicle careen and plummet into the valley or river too.
The bridge over the river was so narrow that it was difficult for two cars to pass through simultaneously without the
possibility of tipping over into the river.
Since there were no rail guards, there was no defense against such disaster.
Motorcyclists were the most vulnerable.
While here in the US, I lost a promising cousin to a fatal accident right there on that bridge.
My most harrowing memory of that stretch of the road was the death of a neighbor’s son. The young boy had left boarding
school in the area to go get supplies and school fees from the parents. On his way back the taxi the traveled in plunged into
the ravine by the river. The ruthless, ravenous road instantly claimed his life and that of his co-travelers.
By the time the police were able to retrieve the gruesomely mangled bodies, the grisly
remains had reached such an advanced state of decomposition identification was impossible. At the time the science of genetics was virtually unknown in our necks of the bush. So the best the accident victims could get was mass burial. However, the police had the presence of mind to keep
the shoes the boy wore.
Meanwhile neither the school nor the parents knew what had happened to him. Three months after, the school closed for
holidays. After a painful wait for their son to come home the parents contacted the school. To their shock the school had no
information about the whereabouts of the kid. Since he did not return after fee drive,
the school had assumed he had withdrawn.
Bewildered, the distraught parents went to
the police. After going through the list of missing persons without finding anything
on the kid, the police took the parents to a room where personal effects belonging to
diseased unidentified accident victims were stored. It was then that the shoe made sense.
It hurt I never had a chance of bidding my little friend farewell. If I were to meet him I would have invoked Wole Soyinka’s pithy poem, “Death at Dawn”. Therein a line sounds a cautionary note, “Child may you
never walk when the road waits famished”.
Governor Victor Attah, Akpabio’s immediate predecessor resurfaced the killer one-lane
road and replaced the colonial built rickety bridge to arrest the carnage. Governor Akpabio reinvented it by dualizing the road and throwing over it, a homespun version of a hanging bridge.
Raising the bar of governance is a major theme in the global economy. Governance in the 21st century is about openness,
about inclusion and empowering citizens to overcome challenges.
When President Goodluck Jonathan visits the state tomorrow he is going to see
innovation, creativity and value added lives.
He will see the transformation of
environments long degraded by neglect and poverty. He certainly will remark the infusion of ideas into what was formerly an
arrested provinciality. He will see jerkwater
towns and rural backwaters opened up and connected to the grid of rapid developments.
When he goes to commission a gas processing facility complete with sixty-nine kilometer pipeline at Uquo, built under a public-private partnership arrangement
between Septa Energy and the Akwa Ibom State government, he will feel good that under his leadership and Governor Akpabio
his country is beginning to tap into its full
potentials. This facility will be the nemesis
to disruptive power supply in the state and
Of course when he performs the ground-
breaking ceremony for a $1.8 billion
Methanol Plant at Ibeno, he definitely
cannot miss how the project will impact on
the dignity of the human person, how it
shall promote investment and employment
and thus leverage the greatest resource of
his country, the people.
I can imagine a president giddy with joy
when he takes a ride on the on-going
dualization of the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene-Aba
Federal Road, an initiative undertaken by
the state government.
He cannot miss the ultramodern hospital
going up around the axis of the road. As he
thereafter inspects the 30,000 capacity
Ibom International Stadium, Uyo, the
foundation stone of which he laid barely
two years back in October 2012, his faith in
good governance will be rewarded. The
facility is an added bite to the timeless
belief that a sound mind dwells in a sound
Bright ideas are some of the driving forces
and currencies in the global economy. They
strengthen businesses and public systems.
When they flow into good governance, they
form the basis for progress. President
Obama emphasized the need for this kind
of initiative in his address to African leaders
during the just concluded USA-African
After his visit, President Jonathan should be
proud that one of his state governors is
already blazing the trail and laying the foundation for model development in the continent.
Imo Ben Ubokudom Eshiet writes from Greensboro, NC, United States ·