Governor Udom Emmanuel is the only reason the Ibom Seaport project is seemingly frustrated. When Oro people heard that the government has relocated the Seaport, they questioned the basis for the relocation of the project which was conceptualized to be sited around Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area. A senator who happens to be a member of the state constituted seaport implementation committee admitted that the location has been tinkered with. She suggested to Oro people that they should approach the governor to seek a common ground. According to her, he is a listening governor. But it turned out that she was very wrong!
Oro wrote a letter to the governor demanding explanation as to why the location and name have been changed. Instead of responding, the governor sent Mrs. Mfon Usoro, the Chairperson and some members of the implementation to brainwash Oro to accept the new location. She came up with an unverifiable and questionable scientific data which was faulted and challenged.
Oro unequivocally told her that the issues raised in the letter have not been addressed by her and practically handed her another copy of the same letter earlier sent to the governor for direct transmission to His Excellency for a line-by-line discussion with Oro people at a subsequent date.
Governor Udom Emmanuel ignored Oro’s appeal for explanation and treated the issue with levity. After it has become obvious that Udom Emmanuel is not interested in dialoguing with Oro on the seaport relocation, Oro elected as a last resort to intimate the investors of the modifications carried out to her detriment.
Investors have carried out their independent investigations and have confirmed Oro’s fears before deciding to pull out of the seaport development. Now the governor who is the architect of all these developments is looking for where to point his accusing fingers. He forgets to point at himself.
Truth is that, if anyone is to blame for the obvious frustration of the seaport, it’s governor Udom Emmanuel who orchestrated the whole relocation drama. Akwa Ibom state is at the verge of losing the opportunity to have a deep seaport in the Gulf of guinea because it has a governor who is very clannish and sentimental in the execution of projects.
It is an irony that the same governor who claims to be championing industrialization is the one stifling industries through ethnic politics. The attempt to deflect the blame at Oron people is an indication of how hypocritical the governor can be. He has failed to tell Akwa Ibom people how his arrogance and disdain for Oro have frustrated the seaport. He has failed to admit how his mishandling of Oro’s grievances has made them lost faith in his sincerity on the project and went upstairs.
Truth is sacred and cannot be shrouded forever. Oro people are only demanding to know the scientific (if any) consideration for the alteration of location. Science is verifiable. Why not show them the science rather than playing politics with the project?
The point must be made that Udom Emmanuel did not conceive or “package” the seaport as he falsely claimed. This lofty project was conceptualized by various governments before he even dreamt to be the governor of Akwa Ibom State. Particularly, Akpabio took a step further towards implementation contracting various consultants to work on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Feasibility Studies as well as Outline Business Case (OBC) between 2009 and 2013. He also secured an approval for Ibom Industrial Free Zone in 2012 after carrying out its groundbreaking at Ibaka in 2009. Unfortunately, that Free Zone is one of the inactive Free zones in the country today because it has be abandoned by Udom Emmanuel.
The same Akpabio administration signed an MoU with the Oil & Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) in 2013 for the establishment of Ibaka Oil & Gas Free Zone in Ibaka. It is worthy of note that one of the considerations for the deep seaport is a free trade zone. That’s why Ibaka free trade zone was approved in the first place.
However, Udom Emmanuel did not abandon only the already approved Ibom Industrial City Free trade Zone promoted by the preceding Government, he also abandoned the OGFZA approved Ibaka Oil & Gas Free Zone. In its instead, he promoted the Ikot Abasi Oil & Gas Free Zone (Liberty) which he incorporated into the seaport as a replacement for the Ibaka Oil & Gas Free Zone. In other words, Udom Emmanuel did not only relocate the seaport from Ibaka, he also constructively relocated the Oil & Gas Free Zone from Ibaka. Not even a single local government area in Oro is included in the Liberty Free Zone which cuts across six LGAs.
No people on earth would be aware of such glaring attempt to shortchange them and fail to ask questions. Oro asked questions and were ignored by the governor contrary to the expectation and suggestion of the distinguished senator. Oro then wrote to those who can look at the issue without the lenses of ethnic politics. Those who understand the environmental implication of a dug out port. Those whose money would be used to create an artificial harbour where a natural one already exists. Those who saw that there is no EIA for the proposed dug out port. Those who refused to see any economic sense in constantly dredging a man-made harbour at their own expense when there is a better alternative. These so called investors saw what Oro saw and pulled out.
How then can the governor who is instrumental to the whole thing cry foul and point accusing fingers? If governor Udom did not allow himself to be driven by ethnic sentiment which seems to suggest deep rooted hatred and disregard for Oro, Akwa Ibom State would have boasted of a seaport that would transform her into a business hub in the Gulf of Guinea.
Every discerning Akwa Ibom indigene knows that Udom Emmanuel is accountable for the apparent failure of the seaport project. His attempt to whip sentiment has already failed.
Alexander Asuquo Esq.