Akwa Ibom State currently ranks as one of the most transformed states in Nigeria. In recent times, the people of the state have been celebrating the turnaround in infrastructural development with the advent of the Godswill Akpabio- led administration in 2007. Everyone has come to agree that Nigeria’s 21st state has become educationally and technologically driven, ethnically harmonious and investment friendly.
Governor Akpabio has handled the affairs of State since assumption of office with a rare zeal, determination and pragmatism. He is putting the people first in the scheme of things and providing them with enduring projects which have changed the landscape of the State.
His approach to governance has been bold, decisive, and methodical. He has left no one in doubt that he was angry with the State of Affairs that he met and is therefore in a hurry to transform the State. These, he has done by embarking on unparalled development projects that have changed the face of the entire State making the Governor, the harbinger of UNCOMMON TRANSFORMATION.
The projects and programmes range from free and compulsory education, free medical services to the young, elderly and expectant mothers, the Massive roads network of over 1800kms that dot the entire state, turnkey infrastructure, like the ultra-modern e-library complex, the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Center, the Underground Pipeline Jacking technology drainage system, the Ibom International Airport, the new international hospital and referral centre, a breathtaking 30 thousand capacity international stadium, and other key infrastructure in all the sectors of the economy, as well as a Gas processing plant with 69km of Gas Pipeline.
It can be clearly seen that for the first time in the history of Akwa Ibom state, the people have clearly benefited from a deliberate policy by an administration towards a unity agenda that is anchored on the even spread of development projects and programmes across the 329 wards that make up the three senatorial districts of the state, namely, Uyo ,Eket and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Districts.
Recently, there have been media reports from certain quarters that Oron Federal Constituency otherwise known as Oro nation is allegedly marginalized by successive governments since the creation of the state; an allegation which survey shows as baseless and spurious, especially with the advent of the Akpabio administration in 2007.
Also debatable is the so much taunted notion that the area should produce the next governor for the state on the basis of an alleged ethnic tripod arrangement in the state. According to the ethnic tripod theory, Akwa Ibom State consists of three ethnic nationalities, Ibibio, Annang and Oro.
With Ibibio through Obong Victor Attah, and Annang through Chief Godswill Akpabio, the Oro people believe they should now have the nod to produce the next governor of the state, since according to them, only an indigene of Oro nation will be able to competently address the issues affecting the area.
Lying in the flood plane of south eastern Nigeria , the Eket Senatorial District of the State, comprising Eket, Ikot Abasi and Oron federal constituencies have benefited immensely from the transformation drive. A cursory look at the 2006 census shows that of the 1,225,580 population strength of the Eket Senatorial district, Eket Federal constituency accounts for 435,011 people in 4 Local Government Areas, Ikot Abasi federal constituency boasts of 370,602 people from 34 wards in 3 Local Government Areas, while Oron Federal Constituency contributes a total of 419,967 people from 50 wards in 5 local government areas.
The sequential logic therefore is that, Oro people who constitute only 10.5% of the entire population in Akwa Ibom state know that should such a tripod stand firmly, the State should have had a total population of only 1.26million, with each group having 420,000 people.
And this could have effectively been achieved if they sealed a deal to cede the remaining members of the Eket Senatorial District, notably Ekid, Ibeno, Obolo and some Ibibios to another state(God forbid) where ethnic tripods are not major determinants of sharing their natural wealth.
Oron federal constituency comprises five local government areas , namely Oron, Okobo, Udung Uko, Urue Offong Oruko and Mbo and the inhabitants are predominantly the people of Oro ethnic nationality which is why they are referred to as Oro Nation.
The people of Oron Federal constituency are predominantly fishermen, farmers and traders and they have a rich culture expressed in songs , folklore and dances. In line with the vast natural and human resources of the Oro community , the visionary leadership of Chief Godswill Akpabio is vigorously pursuing the realization of Oron ,as the economic and industrial hub of the state.
Already following the completion of the first phase of the Ibom Industrial city project that comes with a deep seaport , refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer plants housing estates and oil and gas support services,the Ibaka deep seaport has received approval from the federal government , since deep seaports are on the exclusive list of the federal projects.
No fewer than 34 urban roads have so far been constructed in Oron Metropolis since the inception of the Akpabio administration in the state . Many of these have been completed, while others are at various stages of completion.
Some of the roads include The ongoing 23 km Etebi – Enwang Road which comes with a 1.2km bridge, the longest of its kind in Akwa Ibom state, Construction of the Civic Center Road; the Court Road, Isangedighi Street, Lawrence Etim Avenue; Construction of Anwana Mba street; The Mount Zion Street; Mainland Lane; Effiat Street; Afaha Okpo street; and Agric Lane.
Other roads include Anamfa Street; Okpo Edet – Aba Road; Akilu Street; Convent Road; Ibo street; Asanwana Street; Awolowo Street; Etim Inyang Street; Udesi street, Nnamdi Azikiwe Street, Akan Street and Uya Oron Street.
The story of the infrastructural renaissance in Oro nation in the last seven years will not be complete without mention being made of: Esio Okwung Udo Avenue; Hon. Martin Effiong Close; New Police station road; Obisung Nduonyi Road; Eyo Ekerendu Elei street; Etienam Street; Udia Street; Construction of 8.3km Oron Airport Diversion loops 2 (Ikot Asua–Odobi Nung Atai road) and Construction of Oron road Sect II from Mbiabong Road to the Airport which measures about 21.3km.
The Oron Local Government Chairman Mr Orman Esin, his Mbo counterpart Mr Victor Antai, among other prominent indigenes of the area, have stressed that indeed the last seven years have been rewarding, one not only for the people of Oro nation but also for the whole state.
In terms of appointments into positions of responsibilities and influence, Governor Godswill Akpabio has within the seven years of his administration in the state favoured several indigenes of the federal constituency.
Blazing the trail was the appointment of Late Elder Mrs. Grace Anwana, the first female Head of Civil Service in the State from Oro nation from 2007 to 2011.Subsequently, two indigenes of Oron Federal Constituency have served as ministers of the federal republic, through the recommendation of Governor Akpabio.
First was Professor Ita Bassey Ewa , former minister of Science and Technology who was Minister of Science and Technology from 2011 to 2013, and the current Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Mrs Akon Eyakenyi who was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year.
It would be recalled that since 1979, no indigene of Oro nation was appointed a federal minister until Chief Godswill Akpabio came on board as governor of Akwa Ibom state.
Also, Ambassadors have so far been appointed from Oron nation among them is Engr Etim Udo Uyeh (Former Nigerian Ambassador Extra- Ordinary and Plenipotentiary to Hellenic Republic (Greece).
The same can also be said of the appointment of Mr. Etim Inyang Jnr as Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, thereby addressing the issue of inclusion of Oron as an oil bearing community.
In the first tenure of the Akpabio administration , Chief Jerome Isangedighi from Oron was the leader of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly while Mrs Alice Ekpenyong is holding sway as the chief whip of the current House of Assembly.
Also during that era of Akpabio’s first term when it was the turn of Akwa Ibom to produce a South South zonal Chairman for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, a relatively unknown Chief Edet Nkpubre of Oro nation found favour in the eyes of the State Caucus of the party and emerged as the national vice chairman of the PDP(South South).
Just recently Oron indigenes were appointed by Governor Akpabio to the just concluded national conference . They are Mrs Atim Etim Okpoyo and Obong Okon Usung.
At least five commissioners from Oron extraction have so far served in the state executive council under governor Godswill Akpabio. First was the late Hon Oyong Asuquo, who served for five years as Commissioner for Rural Development and later that of Sports, before his death . Others are, Dr. Bassey Antai Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning and later Commissioner for Health, Barr. Victor Iyanam was Attorney –General and Commissioner for Justice.
Three Oron indigenes are currently serving as commissioners in the state executive council. These are Barr. Ekpenyong Ntekim, Attonery- General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Atim Antai – Commissioner for Education and Mr Ante Okwong – Commissioner for Economic development.
It is pertinent to note that an Oron son Chief Otu Ita Toyo, who was at the vanguard of Governor Akpabio’s re-election as deputy chairman of the Godswill 2011 Re-election Campaign committee.
Arc.Toyo, a former state chairman of PDP is currently the chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Local Government Service Commission after being the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom Property and Investment Council, APICO.
Since the commencement of academic activities at the Akwa Ibom State University, the institution has had at the helms of affairs Dr. Okon Eminue as Chairman of its Governing Council.
The rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Mr. Joshua Okpo, as well as the pioneer Bursar of the newly established Federal Polytechnic at Essien Udim, Mr. Sunday A. Okpo, are all proud sons of Oro nation.
This is in addition to the several agitations of the state governor to the relevant authorities for the upgrading of the Maritime Academy in Oron to a full-fledged degree awarding institution, the most recent appeal by the Governor, which was during the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the state in August 2014.
Though the bogging question on the minds of most analysts is thus; why have the series of political office holders from Oro Nation not been seen to also contribute to the development of their area.
In Rural development, the story of Oro nation has changed positively under the Akpabio administration as four hundred and eighty three interministerial projects have been completed in the Federal Constituency.
These include school blocks, rural electrification, mini water and primary healthcare facilities. Already, the biggest secondary facility in the area, was in a state of comatose until the Akpabio appeared on the scene, to give the General Hospital, Iquita Oron a total facelift that came with several additional blocks for health officers.
The Oron Federal Constituency may predominantly be inhabited by the Oro people, but it also has a large chunk of settlers from nearby coastal countries like Cameroun, Ghana, who feast on the potentials of the aquatic life of the area.
But the people of the area, irrespective of their origin have come to realize that since independence, no other administration has developed Oro Nation like the administration of Governor Godswill Akpabio.
This is seen in the ORON bill of rights a communique signed under the Leadership and guidance of Oron National Forum, (ONAF), Oron Development Union, (ODU) Oron Women Action Group, (OWAG) Oron Youth Movement, (OYOM), Oron Public Relations committee (OPRC) organized by the ORON National Forum (ONAF) who on June 25, 2009.
The Oron People had in the meeting lamented the continuous marginalization of Oron people by successive administrations since 1984, a shabby treatment which they maintained, manifested in public appointments and landmark achievements in the area prior to 2007.
This is one reason the people say no other administration has developed Oro Nation like that of Governor Godswill Akpabio.
Despite the enormous achievements by the present administration, it is pertinent to note that no leader can solve every challenge in a particular place in one fell swoop, however the government of Chief Akpabio is still on course to tackle nagging issues that border largely on the poor topographical nature of the area.
A case at hand is the engagement of Niger Pet Ltd to commence reclamation of a section of the Uyo – Oron road to make the road passable notwithstanding that this is a federal road.
Going by the verdict of the recently concluded town hall meetings across the state, it is clear that a greater percentage of the populace in the spirit of justice, equity and fairness have unequivocally affirmed that the next Governor of Akwa Ibom state come 2015 should emerge from Eket Senatorial district, and Oro nation being part of the district has equal claim to the coveted seat, just as the other ethnic blocs in the senatorial district. But by the spread of programmes and political positions, Chief Akpabio’s has clearly shown that one does not need to have a brother as governor, to see development face to face.
Every government has a responsibility to attend to the needs of its people irrespective of ethnic or political inclination, and history will undoubtedly maintain a favourable epitaph on Governor Akpabio, as a man whose administration has certainly done more for the Oro nation than any other administration in the history of the state.
[+] Essien Ndueso