By Saviour Ekpe
20 Questions is a witty parlour game that, apart from its humourous contents brings about entertainment, greatly educates and informs its publics in many aspects of human angle and endearvour. This includes politics, family circles, industry, ways of life, grammar, new English lexicon, security, notable people, funny and hilarious names of places, new development and many others.
20 Questions, which has been on the airwaves for more than two decades in Akwa Ibom yearns greatly for sponsors to keep it afloat for the common good of its audience on AKBC TV (Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation) television service Channel 45/Star Times Channel 113; AKBC (Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation) Radio Akwa Ibom 95.5 FM; UNIUYO FM 100.7; Youtube/Passiontvng; Youtube/20QuestionsNigeria and the latest on Redemption FM 101.5 Abak as more queuing.
Upon the recording of the July 2022 episode of the 20 Questions at Ibom Tropicana and Entertainment Centre in Uyo, the Chairman, Akparawa Michael Bush prompted the Mystery Voice who was represented by Mr. Sam Ibok from Eastern Obolo local government area to let the cart out of the bag by presenting the object to the audience for the panelist made up of Idy James, the Hit man; Saviour Ekpe and Chukwu Agu to unravel the object within the confines of 20 Questions to arrive at the object as supplied by the mystery voice.
Unraveling the object was not necessarily the issue, what brings about this article is the way and manner the Chairman, Akparawa Michael Bush was so passionate and concerned about the state of Akwa Ibom forest and his call on governments at all levels to show serious concern and take practical steps to protect the forests from invaders and from being used by hoodlums to hide kidnapped victims or enemies using them as means of hiding to invade the state.
This, apart from being a wakeup call and timely information to all Akwa Ibomights, leaders and residents of the state to be on guard of the new trend used by criminals to invade, kill, maim and destroy lives and property at little or no provocation. It behooves individual, families, groups, village heads, youth groups, local government chairmen, governor, security personnel who are committed to their jobs and everyone to sit up, rise up, watch out to ensure that the Akwa Ibom forests are not infiltrated by these hoodlums thereby causing security threats to citizens and residents.
Akwa Ibom State being one of the states in the Niger Delta is blessed with thick forests. According to researchers, six out of the eight true mangrove species found in Nigeria are in the Niger Delta. In Akwa Ibom State, according to researchers, Stubb’s Creek Forest Reserve (SCFR) is the largest remaining forest and is found in three local government areas of Mbo, Ibeno and Esit Eket. Bounded in the south by the Atlantic Ocean and in the west by the Qua Iboe River, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) installations and Ntak, it covers an area of 310 km2 while the entire State has a total land area of 8412.0km2.
The Atlantic coastline stretches 129km from Oron in the East to Ikot Abasi in the West with three distinct vegetation zones: the saline water swamp forest, the fresh water swamp forest and the rain forest.
In between the boundaries of Akwa Ibom and Abia; Akwa Ibom and Rivers; Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers, there are thick and long forests with large expands of land that have the capacity of opening the state to attacks of any kind if not protected and secured by citizens. Between Akwa Ibom and Cross River States for instance, there are sacred forests that are yearning for protection by all.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which defines a forest as, “Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent”. Forests was not meant to be a threat to man, from creation, it was meant to be the major source of livelihood for man in several ways including food, medicine, protein, household tools, timber for building, raw-materials for wood-based and pharmaceutical industries etc.
Akwa Ibom people should not wait to have the experience of the Sambisa forest in the North Eastern part of the country; South Eastern part as well as that in the South Western part should not be treated with loosed hands but should serve as a lesson and any good lesson must result in a change of attitude and brings about development and progress.
In the view of a popular Nollywood star, Kenneth Okonkwo christened, “Fulani Herdsmen And The Forest Highways” on his ‘Global Space’ column in the Sun Newspaper of 7th February 2021 asserted, “the unsuspecting herdsmen will in turn provide intelligence for them and even encourage their young children to assist them in the process. They use the ploy to indoctrinate the younger herdsmen and co-opt them into their terrorist gang. When they have perfected their plans, they will unleash a coordinated, unprovoked, guerilla-warfare- style attacks on the host communities, raping and killing women and children, slaughtering the men, stealing everything they can steal. The host communities will wake up to their consternation to see the level of destruction on their communities. Of course, their first suspects will be the Fulani herdsmen. Unknown to them, it is the work of the terrorists operating under the cover of herdsmen. They will revenge by killing the innocent, defenceless herdsmen and their cows thereby confirming to the herdsmen that they need the services of the terrorists for protection. The cycle of violence continues until there is complete breakdown of law and order, while the terrorists continue with their onslaught in the South, through the forest highways, they simply mix up with the traditional criminal elements, militants and cultists and launch kidnapping and armed robbery operations to loot the resources of the people. They provide the criminals with sophisticated weapons. That’s why whether you call them terrorists, bandits, cultists, kidnappers, armed robbers or rapists in the Northwest, Northeast, North-central, Southwest, Southeast or South-south states of Nigeria, the forest has become their meeting point. They are all propelled by terrorists who go under the cover of Fulani herdsmen to unleash mayhem on the society through the forest highways”. Let’s be wise and take our destiny in our hands!