During a three day visit to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, our reporter took out time to study the sights and sounds of the beautiful city. Here he writes on the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the ‘Land of Promise.’
The taxi operator who drove me from the Akwa Ibom International Airport into town was down to earth.As a first time visitor to the oil producing state, I sought to clear from Ibok certain doubts about the state. I was particularly curious to know something about stories I had heard to the effect that in Akwa Ibom dog meat is a common delicacy. With a grin on his face my guide gave me what sounded like a lecture on ‘the dogma of dog meat’ in Akwa Ibom.
First of all he sought to know from me if I were either a patron of dog meat, or a patron of beer parlors. I responded in the contrary. “My brother, I must tell you the truth; dog meat-otherwise known as ‘404’, is a popular delicacy in Akwa Ibom. The Ibibios call it unam-ewa, and it is mostly prepared as barbecue and sold at beer parlors and other ‘joints’ that dot the nooks and crannies of the city of Uyo.
Lovers of Beer find it a very potent delicacy that goes with alcohol consumption. Therefore, if you are not a patron of dog meat, I would rather advise that you steer clear of meat sold at beer parlors because most of it is dog meat,” said Ibok, who further disclosed that due to its growing popularity in the state, dog meat (404) has now been upgraded to the status of ‘504.’
Coming from a background where dog meat is almost a taboo, I found Ibok’s lecture quite instructive. It reminded me of the popular warning usually found at the gates of homes in Nigerian cities: ‘beware of dogs’. To a first time visitor to Uyo, his lecture was an unwritten equivalent of that warning sign cautioning me to beware of ‘dog meat’ during my stay in the State.
“…The biggest showcase of democracy dividends in Nigeria today is the PDP administration of Akwa Ibom. If anybody has doubts as to whether PDP can deliver let them come and see what we are doing here…” Then he went rhetorical: “Could anybody tell you after you have done over three hundred brand new urban roads that you are not performing? Could anybody tell you after driving round your state capital for over sixteen kilometers without coming across a pothole, that you are not performing? Could anybody tell you that after electrifying about 1,700 villages you are not performing...?”
He went on and on! At the end of my visit to Akwa Ibom State I was reminded of two things, namely: The old adage which says: “The Agama lizard which jumps from the high Iroko tree to the ground nods its head in self congratulation (as exemplified by the doctrine of Akpabioism); as well as the dog meat dogma in Akwa Ibom (as exemplified by the unwritten caution to visitors: ‘beware of dogs’).