“Akwa Ibom State Government should not provoke ethnic conflict between Ibeno and Oron”
In 1970, the Proposal by Mobil Producing Nigeria to establish Operational Base at Ibaka was known to all. But Brigadier General U. J. Esuene, an Eket man, who at the time was the Military Administrator of the then South Eastern State “forced” Mobil to either locate the Operational Base at Eket or pack out of the State. When Oron delegation went to the Military Administrator to complain about the denial of the Base location, U. J. Esuene was honest. He told Oron People, “I am from Eket. If you were in my shoes, wouldn’t you do the same thing?” Esuene did not lie that the change in location was because Eket location was better than Ibaka. The Late Justice Okon Esin, an Oron who was the Attorney General of the State was immediately sacked for asking further questions about the change in the location during the State Exco Meeting. Also the General Manager of the then South Eastern State Newspaper Corporation, Chief Edet Asuquo Anwana was an Oron man. Again, he was sacked for allowing an Editorial to be published, criticising the change in the location of the Mobil’s Operational Base in the State owned Newspaper. When Ibeno LGA was eventually created out of Eket LGA, the Operational Base of Mobil Producing Nigeria fell into Ibeno LGA.
In 1973, U. J. Esuene, again using Military Might annexed Oron Land covering 280 square kilometres with a Coastline of 19km to his local government area, Eket. Oron People petitioned the then Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon against the annexation. But nothing came out of it. Oron went to court to challenge the annexation. The case is still alive in the Court. As Ibeno LGA was created from Eket LGA, the Annexed Land also fell into Ibeno LGA. As events would unfold, Eket people didn’t and still do not want the land their son “stole” from Oron to be dashed to Ibeno. They went to court to ask that the Oron land should be removed from Ibeno LGA and given back to Eket. Ironically, it is with this “stolen” land that Ibeno is boasting to Oron People that their LGA is much larger than Mbo LGA. Remove this Oro Land, Ibeno LGA would be very small. Oron people are cognizant of the fact that Ibeno and Oro share the same Obolo ancestry. That is why the agitation against the Annexed Land has been low. The case is still in court. But Ibeno People must tread with caution and not excite ethnic conflict with their brother, Oro.
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel during his 6th year anniversary appearance on Channels TV, was asked to explain why the Deep Sea Port is relocated from Ibaka and why Akwa Ibom State Government want to dig an artificial ocean for a Dugout Port. The Governor claimed that the Deep Sea Port was not relocated but was only moved 2km from Ibaka to Unyenge, due to technical reasons. This of course is not true. Unyenge is more than 10km from the Preferred Port Location near Ibaka. The Seaport is being moved more than 10km to a location in the disputed land presently in Ibeno LGA. This scenario reveals that when people do the wrong thing, they are forced to tell lies to cover their wrongs. The Governor of Akwa Ibom State did not address the issue of digging an artificial ocean for a Dugout Port when a Natural Habour is close by.
However, unlike the Governor who confirmed the relocation, even though he said its only 2km, instead of about 10km distance from the preferred location, Ibeno People in their official reaction, pretend not to know that there is an originally preferred location for the Deep Sea Port. They are possibly under the tutelage of Barr (Mrs) Mfon Usoro who blatantly lied that Akwa Ibom State Government has never had Ibaka Deep Sea Port on its table. Evidence abound every where that Ibaka Deep Sea Port located at a site near Ibaka was on the table of both the Federal Government and Akwa Ibom State Governments, until 2014 when ethnic politics entered and frustrated the Ibaka Deep Sea Port Project. The following are the indisputable evidence.
Final Due Diligence Report dated January 2013 where the Preferred Location for the Deep Sea Port was established at a site tagged “Okposo” near Ibaka and Tom Shot Island.
Final Outline Bussiness Case (OBC) dated 24th April 2013 where all feasibility studies and Financial Modelling for the Deep Sea Port was based on the Port at the preferred location near Ibaka and Tom Shot Island.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Ibaka(Ibom) Industrial City, based on the Deep Sea Port at the preferred location near Ibaka and Tom Shot Island, approved by the Federal Ministry of Environment.
In 2012, the Nigerian Legislature made appropriation of N10B as part of Federal Government equity in the Deep Sea Port to at the preferred location near Ibaka and Tom Shot Island.
In 2013, the MD of the Chinese firm CCECC who were interested in investing in the Ibaka Deep Sea Port presented an Architectural Model of Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone to Governor Godswill Akpabio with the Port at the preferred location near Ibaka and Tom Shot Island.
Numerous publications abound where the then Minister of Transport, Idris Umar and Godswill Akpabio promised Nigerians that the Deep Sea Port at the preferred location near Ibaka, would be completed and commissioned in 2015 before Akpabio leaves office.
We consider the pretention of Ibeno not to know and acknowledge that the Deep Sea Port was originally located in Oron land as dishonourable for a people who have admitted a common ancestry with Oro people.
The Government of Akwa Ibom State should save Akwa Ibom people the embarrassment of having their Governor contemplate the digging of an artificial ocean for a Dugout Port when a Natural Habour is close by. Tin Can Port, Lagos Port, Onne Port and Port Harcourt Port which are the most functional Ports in Nigeria today are much farther to the Ocean than the preferred Ibaka Deep Sea Port location at the entrance of the large estuary of Cross River, which is very close to the Atlantic Ocean. It is therefore disingenuous for anybody to claim that Ibaka is too far from the Ocean that is why an artificial ocean has to be created for a Dugout Port in Ibeno LGA.
Ibeno People have benefited in the past from the subjugation of Oro People. There is no need to provoke ethnic conflict between Oron people and Ibeno, especially as the matter of the disputed land is still yet to be decided in Court. Government of Akwa Ibom State should return the Deep Sea Port to its preferred location near Ibaka. We advise our Ibeno brothers to be cautious as they gloat over their benefits from the deprivation of their Oro Kith and Kin.
Kinsmen do not gloat when a serpent crawls in between them because when the dangerous reptile smothers the one, it will surely turn on the other.
It will be more elegant and empathic to stay quiet and allow Oron People who have been visibly marginalized and oppressed in Akwa Ibom State to fight their cause. That is what sensible and loving Kith should do with their Kin.
Comrade Victor Mkpofor
Oro Youth Movement (OYOM)
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