By CrossRiverWatch Admin
I never get tired of talking about my little village, Bedia.
That’s because I want all of you, my friends and enemies alike, to know where I come from.
Maybe you can share our pains and our triumphs and also lend your expertise to lift our little village.
Bedia is a very serene small village by the foot of a mountain. It’s 7km away from Obudu main town with a population of less than 2000 residents.
Bedia has always been a very peaceful and hospitable village where everyone knows everyone.
Our greatest contribution to the Nigerian nation from Bedia is our reputation for being one of the villages with the highest number of service men in the military.
There is practically no family compound in Bedia that doesn’t have a soldier. And our soldiers have a track record of excellent and meritorious service. We have them from Private soldiers all through to Major Generals.
In Bedia, we ate in every home, drank from the same stream, bath in the same waters, until politics and big politicians came to make a spoil of our small village and did a terrible blow to our communality.
Bedia village, regardless of its odds, has produced 2 Chairmen for Obudu LGA. The two are first cousins and are still alive and politically active.
Bedia is the only village in Obudu that has also produced a member that represented the LGA twice in the State House of Assembly.
He is Honorable Stephen Ukpukpen, the incumbent member of the House from Obudu. He is the only member who has spent two terms from Obudu.
In sharp contrast, Bedia is one of the most neglected villages in Obudu and the most neglected village in Angiaba/Begiaka ward, due to the actions and inactions of these big politicians from Bedia.
There is a litany of things to say but let me say a thing about Hon. Stephen Ukpukpen that is giving me sleepless nights.
Sacred Heart Primary School Bedia, had been dilapidated for years and Steve was aware.
Some of us, sons and daughters from Bedia, mostly professionals doing their jobs and business, took an initial initiative to buy materials by ourselves and provide a toilet for the pupils with water and possibly renovate a classroom block.
When I contacted Hon. Ukpukpen to contribute to the toilet project, he pointedly told me that: “O boy, I am not representing Bedia in the House, I am representing the whole of Obudu and I have many projects at hand at the moment.”
While this one was ongoing, we heard there was a window at SUBEB. They had just accessed federal money and were awarding contracts for infrastructure renewal in primary schools across the state.
We quickly rushed to SUBEB to appeal for intervention.
Dr. Stephen Odey graciously accepted to renovate a block of classroom and construct a new block in the school.
Contracts were indeed awarded. A company (name witheld), owned by Honorable Stephen Ukpukpen, same Stephen who said he was not going to contribute to the toilet project, was awarded the contract to construct the new classroom block.
The building was supposed to have been completed since 2016, but I understand SUBEB had challenges paying them the balance of their money after the first tranche.
I was in touch with both the SUBEB Chair and Hon. Stephen. Now the balance of the contract sums have long been paid and Hon. Ukpukpen does not want to complete the work.
The block of classroom, out of intense pressure, has been rushed and hurriedly roofed and still standing there without completion amidst fears about the integrity of the structure and the safety of the children when the building opens for use.
I visited the SUBEB Chair recently and he confirmed that outstanding monies have been paid to the contractors.
The Board also gave contractors ultimatum to complete the jobs or be prosecuted.
Dr. Odey has visited the primary school in Bedia on my invitation and vowed that the project will be completed and that SUBEB will also add a borehole.
I have reported Hon. Ukpukpen to Chief Tony Undiandeye, our former LG Chair and Clan Head of Bedia. I dont know whether he has taken action.
I have also reported him to the governor of the state, I don’t know if any action has been taken.
Since his election 7 years ago, there is nothing, I mean nothing, both tangible and intangible that Hon. Stephen has done in Bedia.
The youths are so angry with him that the last time he went to his polling booth to vote, he was hassled and his wrist watch seized.
I have never been in government all my life and I am not sure it is one of the venues I want to land, but I went round begging and appealing for projects in our neglected village and resisting the temptation to handle them, only for a man who has the financial means to personally build the school a block of classroom but refused, to be awarded the contract and he now wants to eat the money and not finish the work, IT IS A LIE, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Hon. Stephen must in his own interest go and finish work on that building.
I am forwarding an official petition to the Bedia Development Association both in Calabar and Lagos this week as well as Bedia Chiefs in Council to call Hon. Ukpukpen to order and kindly ask him to go and finish that building in the interest of the children of Bedia before what happened at “Ushiokwo Bikwom” will repeat itself.
Agba Jalingo writes from Lagos.
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