SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTUREPost Comment SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE Nigeria
Education: In a recent classification of the levels of educational attainment in the various states in Akwa lbom is included in the list of educationally advanced states. However, it is doubtful whether Akwa lbom can be said to have such an educational status. Some of the oldest schools in Nigeria are in Akwa lbom State. These include the Presbyterian School at Ikot Offiong which started in 1881, and the Methodist Secondary School at Oron which opened in 1905. The Holy Family College, Abak, Etinan Institute and Cornelia Connelly College, Uyo, founded by voluntary agencies, are also among the older secondary schools in Nigeria.
In 1998, there were more than 200 nursery schools with a total enrolment of over 20,000 children. The number of pupils in the 1,550 primary schools was about 80,000. There are also 420 adult education centres and more than twenty technical/vocational schools. The main tertiary institutions are the State Polytechnic at Ikot Osurua and the State College of Education at Afaha Nsit, and a Federal Government-owned University at Uyo, the state capital.
School enrolment continues to increase at all levels, with the exception of Ikot Abasi and Uruan / Local Government Areas. At the primary school level, the proportion of male and female students is about equal. Females outnumber males at the secondary schools in Ikono, and ltu Local Government Areas. The most educationally developed Local Government Areas are Abak, Uyo, ltu, Etinan, Ikot Ekpene, Oron and Ikono.
Health: In Akwa lbom State, health facilities are provided jointly by the federal and state governments. A few health care centres have also been established by some Local Governments. In 1998, more than twenty-eight hospitals were already providing health services. In most urban centres, a number of private clinics have been opened and are operated by qualified medical practitioners. Rural communities in the state do not enjoy modern health care services since 90 per cent of hospitals, and clinics are located in urban centres. Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Abak and Eket are provided with much better health care services than other towns, while some of the newly created Local Government Areas have no hospitals. The high cost of medical services and drugs have forced a great majority of the people, including urban dwellers to rely more on traditional healing and prayer houses for treatment and eventually going to hospitals when they are near the point of death.
The need for road transportation in Akwa lbom State is unparalleled in any part of Nigeria given the high population density in the state. The state has one of the most extensive rural road networks in southern Nigeria and roads converging at Uyo from Oron, Abak, Eket, Etinan, ltu and Ikot Ekpene are among the busiest rural untarred roads in the country. Akwa lbom State is a very compact state making its capital within one hour drive from most Local Government Headquarters. The use of the mammy-wagon for passenger transportation is being phased out giving way to modern buses and mini-buses in which most passengers travel to and from the Local Government Headquarters and other major urban centres outside the state. Recently, both the state government and the local governments have invested in the transportation business. It is common to find such vehicles labelled with the names of their particular Local Government Headquarters.
There is no doubt that the level of development of transportation in the state is a reflection of the growth of the economy. The main problem is that these vehicles are poorly maintained and their frequent breakdown cause delays which makes commuting uncomfortable. In recent years, the transportation of the individual passenger has been dominated by Japanese-built motor cycles. Their riders are locally nicknamed "Akauke or Alalok," meaning "How far?" Motor-cycle transport has penetrated into the remotest parts of the state virtually replacing the bicycle as a means of rural transportation.
Water transport operates in the coastal areas of Eket, Ibeno, Mbo, ltu, Oron and Ikot Abasi, where engine-propelled boats ferry passengers along the creeks and the estuaries of the Cross, Qua and Imo rivers. There is no airport in Akwa lbom State. However, Exxon Mobil is operating a private strip at Eket for company flights between Eket and Lagos. Also from Uyo, the State capital, a reliable bus service is provided for the ADC airline passengers who use the Calabar airport to fly to Lagos and Abuja.
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