Governor Godswill Akpabio
The 9,999 choristers at the Akwa Ibom State Government Christmas Carol Night last month left a lasting impression. Held at the Uyo Township stadium, it encompassed fervent worship, music and Akwa Ibom’s rich culture.
Arrival: Indication into what 9,999 foretold started right from the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 where passengers scrambled for tickets to Uyo. The last flight, though delayed, finally left Lagos after 6pm. It was quite scary for a flight leaving after 6pm but concern for safety seemed to be the last thing on my fellow travelers minds. Getting into another state at that time of the night and having to encounter the long drive from the airport into the city would have left both indigenes and tourists jittery but not Akwa Ibom known for its low crime rate.
Ambience: The ambience at the Uyo Airport that night was inviting with Christmas fittings, bill boards and flexi posters announcing 9999 and confirming to visitors that the state was ready to stun the world. But the decorations didn’t stop at the airport, I later discovered.
As we drove to the hotel in GRA, I saw some of the most breathtaking yuletide outdoor decorations last year. From the eclectic lights, fixtures and accessories on streets to sparkle of festive decorations strewn all over the city (including the new roundabouts and their fountains) that will put even the most ardent atheist in the festive mood. Even at the feverish pitch of Christmas celebrations at that time of the year, Uyo’s serenity as a city was a welcome change from the chaotic pace of Lagos.
Lodging: My search for hotel wasn’t so smooth, finding a hotel at that time of the year was almost impossible, they were all fully booked. I thought it was a joke until I had explored 15 of them and the answers were the same, all fully booked. And the few available were well beyond my reach, financially.
However, luck smiled on me on getting to Majesty Realm Hotel, Lagos Street, GRA which was being renovated as I was allocated one of the unconfirmed rooms though at a more than anticipated rate. Though still undergoing renovation in certain parts, it had no effect on services.
Moving Around: Though I had the luxury of being chauffeured, I was driven round town by tricycle operators. Not so daunting, considering the less-chaotic pace of life in Uyo. Running late for our flight out of Uyo, these tricycles provided the best means of transportation before catching a cab. I almost missed it.
Cuisine: Semovita and Fisherman’s soup with palm wine; Eba with Afang soup left me with that wow feeling.