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I read with trepidation on social media (facebook) a piece posted by Omen Bassey on August 4, 2016 captioned “FROM THE PRESIDENT-GENERAL, ORON UNION”. The write-up was signed by Dr. Effiong Edunam, President-General, Oron Union (4/8/2016).
Permit me to quote in extenso an excerpt from the said write-up.
“It is a fact of history that all bondsmen must themselves strike the blow for their own freedom. Those Oron leaders who see a path to salvation through self-emasculating appeasement will remain disappointed beggars at the banquet table. The more we beg, the more we are phased out of relevance in all sphere of benefits in Akwa Ibom. A time comes in the life of a nation when patriots must stand up to be counted and to draw a final line of retreat in the sand. For Oro, in my view, it is now!
A determined struggle is what the oppressors dread. Frederick Douglas knew this and asserted in the 19th century that “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never did, it never will. Ask how Niger Delta produced a President for Nigeria against seemingly impossible odds! If you are for Oro and you support existence with dignity, take your place in the trench. The struggle is on”.
This was really a drumbeat of war, a call to arms by the President-General of Oro Union. The call to arms caught up with the people because in just a few minutes of its publications, I read over twenty-four comments in support of the call for arms. One commentator echoed: “To the trenches O patriots! Another wrote: “close them in”; yet another wrote: No other place to go or way to follow than the trench … Sir with you I stand both in war and in peace! A good friend of mine added his voice and wrote: “To the trenches! For Oro! For a visionary leader! One of the newbreeds wrote: “Yes! THE STRUGGLE IS ON … NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER”. Perhaps, no one captured the mood more succinctly than one Ekanem Akan who wrote: “This is historically correct. Mobilized our people to go into the trenches. Others will follow when they will. In war we have actual warriors and emotional supporters. Go Oro go”.
Yes, the drumbeat of war is getting louder and louder but before I obey the call of our President-General to take to the trenches, a few clarifications, though, are necessary. For example, Mr. P.G. has not told us who the enemies are? Is it the Nigerian State or the Federal Government of Nigeria as presently constituted? Is it Akwa Ibom State or Akwa Ibom State Government as presently constituted? Is it the Ibibios or the Annangs? Is it the Council of Oro Traditional Rulers (COTR) or the Think Tank? Is it the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC)? Is it Godswill Obot Akpabio or Umana Okon Umana or Nsima Ekere? Or is it “US” versus “THEM”? Perhaps, is it the over nine oil companies exploiting oil within the shores of Oro? Who really is/are the enemy (ies) the President General is urging us to enter the trench to fight against. I think we first of all have to define who the enemies are otherwise we will end up fighting the whole world including ourselves.
The second issue that needs clarification is: where is the war going to be waged? Are we going to take the war to our enemies’ territory or are we going to wage the war within the territory of Oro? If we wage it within our territory, do we have the land and the infrastructure that can withstand the shock and vagaries of war? In case our enemies over-run our territory, where else do we run to for sanctuary.
The third issue for clarification, Mr. P.G is this: modern warfare is a very costly venture, so I ask, who is going to finance this war for us? How much weapon have we stockpiled for use in case of a full blown warfare? Who are our backers? I know we have a battalion of cultist from amongst us with macho tendencies and innate bravadoes, can we afford to go to war with them? Those rag-tag army are trained to fight against itself and not to fight external wars. Can we really rely on them to successfully withstand the fire-power of our “enemies”?
Mr. P.G., I need not asked who the Commander-in-Chief would be because I know that as the President General of Oro Union and the one who issued the ‘fatwa’, you would lead the war but my problem is that, I do not know how battle tested you have been. Besides, your past pedigree as a former advocate of the Guru Maharaji Ji, the Bahai Faith and your track record as the publicity and research Director of the Oro Think Tank cannot give me much confidence to follow you to battle as my commander-in-chief.
Besides Mr. P.G., I am also not comfortable with your temperament and judgment to lead me to battle. If I may recall, in 2014, at the heat of the Oro-for-Governor 2015 debacle, two incidents came to the fore. The first was the revelation by former Governor Godswill Akpabio during the Oron Federal Constituency Town Hall meeting where he told the Oron people that three of their sons at the Think Tank were sell-outs though they pretentiously sounded very loud in apparent support of the Oro cause. He said they always take away bags and bags of Ghana-must-go from Government House. Till date, not a few of Oro people are convinced you were not one of the three persons mentioned by Governor Akpabio. The second incident followed the first in quick succession when you gave Radar Newspaper an interview and recommended that any Oro sons who at that time were supporters of Obong Umana Okon Umana should be, to quote you, “given Essien Udim treatment” apparently meaning that they should be butchered and cut into pieces just as Essien Udim people did to the late Effiong Peter Ebere (EPISCO). Mr. P.G., just think about it, at the time you make that recommendation to the Oron people, your current publicity secretary, Barr. Omen Bassey was not only a supporter of Obong Umana Okon Umana but he was a member of the Media Committee of his campaign. Now, if the Oron people had applied your recommendation at that time, such persons as Barr. Omen Bassey would long have been slaughtered and he would not have been around to serve Oro as the publicity secretary. How scaring, isn’t it? Surprisingly, Mr. P.G, it wasn’t quite two months after that, you joined the campaign train of Obong Umana Okon Umana and addressed most of his rallies alongside him. In fact you were a member of his campaign council. I was glad that you came over but when I reflected on your judgment and temperament a few months earlier when you said that those Oron persons who supported Obong Umana Okon Umana should be slaughtered, I am afraid whether I can trust your judgment and temperament to lead me to battle.
Mr. P.G. in your write-up you asked us to find out how the Niger Deltans produced a President for Nigeria against seemingly impossible odds! I know the answer. It was not won through entering the trenches or by picking up arms against the oppressors. It was won through ideas and the legal process. Let me back up my assertion with facts. Isaac Adaka Boro, an Ijawman in 1967 set up an Army, equipped them for war and at Kaima in today’s Bayelsa State declared the birth of the Niger Delta Republic and also declared war against the Nigerian nation. His army which he boasted was the best army in the world was crushed by the Nigerian Army within three hours of the declaration of war. He was arrested and incarcerated. He lost the war and the battle. He later denounced the Niger Delta Republic and pledged alliance to the Nigerian nation. He was conscripted to fight on the side of Nigeria against Biafra but was killed during the battle to liberate Port Harcourt. Another Niger Delta son, Ken Saro Wiwa, a literary giant also took up the fight. The struggle gathered international attention during his time. However, in the course of the struggle he derailed. He started propping up the youths to take up arms against perceived enemies within his ethnic Ogoni and this resulted in the brutal killing of many Ogoni elders who were meeting at the Paramount Ruler’s palace including the then secretary to the State Government, some Commissioners and other prominent Ogoni sons. This led to his being tried and executed along with other Ogoni activists and environmentalists by the General Sani Abacha’s regime. That singular error of judgment brought the Ogoni struggle for self-determination to a premature end.
Then came a man of vision and ideas, Obong Victor Udoadiaha Attah. He launched the Resource Control battle fought on ideas and superior arguments. He went to war in the court. He mobilized the people of his state and other Niger-Deltans to support the struggle. He faced a brutish ruler who brook no opposition. However, without shooting any gun and without anyone losing his life or being slaughtered, he won the war at the Supreme Court where the Onshore-Offshore dichotomy was abolished and the order to implement the 13% derivation was issued. This was followed by the giant campaign efforts of Obong Victor Attah, Chief Peter Odili and Chief Donald Duke to become the President of this country. One of them would have made it but for the deft political move by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who stopped them in their track and rather put up the late Alhaji Yaradua and paired him with another son of Niger Delta, President Goodluck Jonathan as the Vice President. When President Yaradua died, President Goodluck Jonathan became the President courtesy of the doctrine of necessity. Mr. P.G. that is, how Niger Deltans produced a President of Nigeria. It was not by going to the trenches with the Nigerian nation.
Mr. P.G., no war is cheap. War is not a child’s play but beating the drum of war through oratory and incitement is cheap. The Germans learnt about this during the 2nd world war (1939 – 1945), the Iraqis learnt about this during the gulf war and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2001.
Mr. P.G., the comparison our people often make about the Ijaws and Oron nation is off the curve, I dare say. For one, the Ijaws can be found in Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, Ondo, Lagos, Delta and Akwa Ibom States. In some states, they constitute the majority ethnic group while in others, they are a significantly recognizable entity. The point I am trying to make Mr. P.G. is that in case of war in one state, the Ijaws can seek refuge with their kiths and kins in other states but the same cannot be said of the Oro nation. Besides sir, even though both groups lives around water, rivers and tributaries, 98% of the Ijaws lives in Creeks and swamps and are great swimmers, only 1% of Oro men and women can swim and we live in town, cities and villages away from the sea. In case of war, the Oro man does not have any way to run to for sanctuary.
Mr. P.G. I am for Oro and I support the existence of Oro with dignity but I do not believe that the best option is by going into the trenches and I am entitled to my opinion. I am not against those who chose to go into the trenches neither do I expect those who chose to enter the trenches to be against those who chose to dialogue, otherwise we will turn the guns against ourselves and this will lead to self-destruction.
Mr. P.G., I am not a coward and so are those who chose to toe the line of dialogue and diplomacy but the issues I have raised here are relevant issues you must think about before urging your supporters to proceed to the trenches. There is still time to rethink. Thank you for reading through this rather lengthy treatise.
E. O. Oquong, Esq.
Edok, Oruko
Urueoffong/Oruko L.G.A.
10th August, 2016

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