Moment after news of President Muhammadu Buhari forwarding the names of would-be NDDC board members to the senate for confirmation filtered into the airspace, mixed reactions started greeting the list in Akwa Ibom state.
The list has Obong Nsima Ekere as the Managing Director-designate and Mr Frank Samuel George as the Commissioner – designate, both are from Akwa Ibom state. While Ekere is from Ikot Abasi LGA, George is from Onna LGA.
Of these reactions, the one written by my friend, Marsha Abia, captured my fascination. In summary, Abia had concluded and/or given the impression that by these two federal appointments, made so far by the President Buhari’s government, the APC government/party “hates” Oro nation, since none of them is from that axis of the state, despite the fact that the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the 2015 elections, Engr. Benedict Ukpong, hails from Oro Nation.
I agree completely with Marsha Abia that Oron federal constituency is one of the crude oil producing area in the country, especially, Mbo LGA, even when, he did not mention it in his article. And I must commend the efforts of Hon. Robinson Uwak the immediate past federal lawmaker for the area. It was he who made it possible for the axis to be included among the oil producing communities in the country. Even though, his efforts and contributions in this regard appeared unappreciated by his constituents, as they denied him a second term, despite this feat.
Oron federal constituency is grossly under-developed, marginalised and deprived of good road network and infrastructures, Marsha Abia did not include this aspect but, that was done by the successive state and federal governments of PDP in the past 16 years of the party’s rule.
For the benefit of the doubts, I always remind my readers that I seized being a card carry member of any political party in 2003 (13 years ago), after my sojourn in active politics took me to the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), where I was elected the state deputy secretary and later state acting secretary of the party. So, be rest assured, I am not holding brief for any political party or politician but, to sincerely contribute to the discourse generated by Marsha Abia’s write up.
I want to say that Abia was in a hurry to draw conclusions that APC “hates” Oro nation because, the party has just spent one year in governance. It would therefore, be unfair for anyone to use two or three federal appointments made by President Buhari from the state to conclude that the party or its leadership “hates” any area or ethnic group in the state.
We are aware of efforts of the Buhari’s federal government to convert the Nigerian Maritime Academy, Oron, (MAN) to Nigerian Maritime University, despite stiff opposition from the people of Delta state.
Let me refresh our minds that during the federal government Town Hall meeting in Uyo, the minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi and the minister of state for Petroleum, Ibeh Kachikwu, disagreed on the establishment of a Nigerian Maritime University, proposed for Okerenkoko in Delta State.
While Amaechi argued against the past administration’s plans to site the institution in Okerenkoko, Delta state, when it could have converted MAN, Oron, to a university status; Kachikwu who is from Delta state, argued in favour of siting the institution in Okerenkoko.
But, the good news for Oron nation and indeed, Akwa Ibom state is that, the institution is directly under the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA), a parastatal under Amaechi’s ministry and will soon kick-off as it would be funded by NIMASA.
I think, in all honesty and fairness, it would be in order for Akwa Ibom people to appreciate and laud the Buhari’s federal government, howbeit, for this gigantic federal project against all odds and threats from militant groups to wreck havoc in the Niger Delta region partly because, Buhari’s government has abandoned the Okerenkoko site of the institution for Oron.
This article is my contribution to widen the scope of discussion in Marshal Abia‘s commentary in the NDDC Board appointment.
Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator