Ikot Abasi: The Forgotten Land of a Once Colonial Paradise
By Gasm Reporters
Ikot Abasi, a generally coastal settlement along the Atlantic base of Southern Nigeria remains a historical enigma. A land of once very rich historical status yet remains a near moribund area in its current standing.
Geographically, the area is bounded by Oruk Anam Local Government Area in the north, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. The Imo River forms the natural boundary in the west separating it from Rivers State.
Due to its proximity to an expansive mass of water, Ikot Abasi had from time immemorial assumed a hotbed status for coastal exploration and in no time, had become a haven to European missionaries.
At the flourish of colonial activities in Nigeria, Ikot Abasi was at the centre of it all, even playing host to a British Consulate, from where one of its extant roads is still being named till date.
The ports of Ikot Abasi became some sort of a Mecca for overseas businesses. Companies such as John Holt, United Africa Company(UAC), Ferostal, Levers Brothers, among other renowned conglomerates had their regional headquarters situated in Ikot Abasi.
The settling Europeans tapped useful raw materials easily from the locals and from the neighbouring lands of the Annangs and even into hinterland Ibibio through a well commuted train route that had its terminus in Ikot Abasi. Within a short period of time, the architectural and economic profile of Ikot Abasi had grown markedly. The admixture of the foreigners with the locals had a positive symbiotic relationship for the two.
The 1929 Ikot Abasi Women War had however strained the dynamics of this once convivial existence. The post independence Nigerianization of most of the nation’s establishments saw most of the expatriates replaced with indigenes and the area has kept on with a steady economic pace till date.
All awhile, over the years, what was once a colonial darling city had lost its glory and majesty remarkably. In fact, all that remained for the once iconic landmarks were skeletons and withering relics of their old selves crying for architectural and economic restoration.
When the crew of The Gasm Reporters visited the current council chairman of the area, Hon David Eshiet, among other things, the council helmsman had pledged to lay the foundation for the revamping of this once missionary harbour. In his words:
“Ikot Abasi is blessed with strong tourism potentials. I am a tourism person and so it behoves on me that I should put in place an economic formula that would help revive the area’s extant tourism. We have the Amalgamation house here, the Lugard House, the Bridge of No Return, the Bunkers, the 1929 Women’s War Memorial and several other historical artifacts here and plans are already underway to bring life back into these rare leftovers of history” he spoke passionately to our reporters.
In his modest efforts towards leading the restoration charge, Hon Eshiet had kick started by ensuring he had all his principal officers stay in the already built but perenially abandoned Security Village.
He had revamped the Special Security Village and was living there, arguably the only council chairman doing so in the whole state. The Village is also home to the Vice Chairman, the Leader of House, the Divisional Police Officer as well as commandant of the Nigerian Navy, Jubilee cantonment, Ikot Abasi.
From this vantage position of living with his people and feeling their immediate pulses, Hon Eshiet easily identifies immediate needs of his people and is always quick to intervene.
- Renovation of the former chairman’s official office.
2. Renovation of the Accounting/Storage facility building.
3. Renovation and full equipping of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary’s residential quarters at the security villa.
4. Reconstruction of roundabout with the Sir Udo Udoma effigy at the centre at the junction leading to the former consulate.
5. Construction of a well equipped kitchen at the Ikot Abasi prison yard.
6. Construction of modern toilet facilities at Ikot Abasi prison yard.
7. Installation of electric poles (high tension) at Ikot Okwo.
8. Re-roofing of Ete main motor park.
9. Creating of peaceful coexistence among the youths of the five clans through a fully sponsored football tournament that had been abandoned since 2007
A long running feud between the indigenes and the state owned power station, Ibom Power situated in the area over power supply is also nearing a peaceful resolution. The outcome of the resolution will be a breather for both parties concerned in the area of economic activities.
Ikot Abasi remains one of the oldest local government areas in Nigeria and is home to very notable national icons including the late Justice Egbert Udo Udoma, the legendary former Chief Justice of Uganda, among others. This once colonial paradise has been criminally abandoned by successive governments and administrations and for her to reclaim its pride of place, hands of all especially those of the key tourism stakeholders must be on deck.
* You will receive the latest news and updates on your favorite celebrities!