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Ibom Deep Seaport Brouhaha: Looking At The Bigger Picture - Politics - Nairaland

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Ibom Deep Seaport Brouhaha: Looking At The Bigger Picture by Nellyvin(m): 11:14am On Sep 30, 2021
By Aluu Vincent

The last few days has been an admixture of the good, the bad and the ugly for the state. It has been replete with accusations and counter accusations about location and name change of Deep Seaport. Although the bickering surrounding the Deep Seaport is not new, it got to a zenith during the 2021 anniversary of the state.

While fielding questions from Journalists, the Governor of the State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had said some leaders from Oro nation are frustrating the takeoff of the Ibom Deep Seaport project. He said, "The problem we have with Ibom Deep seaport is that the people of Oron wrote a lot of petitions. Anybody entering plane to Akwa Ibom says he's going to Uyo, not Uruan or Nsit Atai where the airport is located. Ibom is a brand name we should enjoy brand equity from but they have written petitions and driven our investors away. If I leave office without achieving that project, hold them responsible, not me",

The Governor spoke from the prism of privileged security and other information at his disposal. Oro Union did write a petition to the Federal Government and investors. The Union first wrote to the Federal Government in April 2021 and later to Bollore Transport Logistics of France on May 12, 2021. The Union also sent a petition to Nigeria’s Senate which was read on the floor a day ago or so. Responding the Federal government through the Federal Ministry of Transportation dismissed the allegations of Oro nation in a letter dated April 22, 2021. The letter, referencing the Petition number: IDSP/ 02/21/ MOT, titled; “Illegal Relocation of Ibaka Deep Seaport from Ibaka Bay to Ibeno Bay” reads in part; “the Ministry conducted an extensive in-depth investigation into the matter with the view to establishing the veracity or otherwise of the allegation. The petition was consequently found to be lacking in merit, and unsupportive of the reality on ground. Accordingly, you are enjoined to cooperate and support Akwa Ibom State Government in its quest to successfully and timely execute the project for the overall interest of the citizens of the State and the Nigerian economy”. If this letter was received by Oro leaders since April of this year, yet they are still battling the Governor the way they are doing, I am afraid they may have and know things the Governor and others don’t concerning the Ibom Deep Seaport.

Following the comment by the governor, the said Oro leaders began releasing salvos with reckless abandon. Instead of sticking to the issues, they began pointed accusing finger to the Governor as one who took the entitled turn of governorship from Oro people when it was zoned to Eket Senatorial District. The people of Oro Nation also complained of marginalization in terms of infrastructure. This may have prompted a section of the media to research and get the petition of Oro leaders and response from the Federal government. Everything seem to be thrown open at the market square for analysts to feast on.

What I find worrisome is the accusation that Governor Udom Emmanuel took what rightfully belongs to Oro nation. This is not only laughable but ridiculously ridiculous. For the avoidance of doubt, the governor did not usurp the birthright of anyone. He contested and won his elections both in 2015 and 2019. The people of Oron were part of the election success story. Accusing the governor of usurping amounts to a man setting his own house on fire because he wants to kill a rat. It is laughable for Oron leaders to accuse Governor Udom Emmanuel of marginalization. He has appointed Oro sons and daughters in positions of authority. He has done more roads in Oron than he has done in Eket. His government delivered five roads to Oro people in his first 100 days in Office. These include Efiat Street, Bassey Lane, Bassey Street, Anwana Esin, Maryanne and Post office streets, with water channelization to de-flood the area and 12 others roads with some awaiting commissioning. Are these roads not in Oro nation?

Now to Ibom Deep Seaport. I am still at a loss as to whether the issue under contention is only that of name change from Ibaka to Ibom and relocation. Where is Unyenghe and Okposo located? Is it not in the same zone? The last I checked, the state government is to fund part the project and has the upper hand in what happens to the project. This is not the first time a project will be relocated from its original position. A federal Polytechnic was lobbied for by vibrant Senator and was approved to be sited in his Local Government. While he was still relishing the success story, a powerful Governor of this state took it to his own local government. The sky did not break and the Senator understood and let it slip.

Obong Attah, as Governor of Akwa Ibom State approved Akwa Ibom State Univeristy to be sited in Eastern Obollo, Ibeno and Mkpat Enin. Construction works had commenced already. But when a new Sherrif came to town, he felt the topography of the area was not good enough. The Univeristy was relocated to Mkpat Enin and Oruk Anam, very far away from Eket Federal Constituency, the initial host. Akwa Ibom remained one until date.

Upon becoming Governor of the state in 2015, Udom Emmanuel told everyone that he plans to industrialise the state. That he has been doing with all amount of patriotism. Industries now dots the landscape of the state. These include Metering Solution, Jubilee Syringe, Plywood firm, Ibom air, St, Gabirel Coconut refinery, Vehicle Assembly plant, Oil refinery, etc.
The bigger one is the Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City at Ibaka, Mbo LGA in Oro nation. Although the project was birthed by previous governments, Udom Emmanuel has shown enough commitment to actualizing the project. His government has got all the five levels of approvals and is at the stage of procurement. As a meticulous investment banker, the Governor having liaised with would be investors saw the need to change the name and the location of the seaport. He had earlier explained that every critical stakeholder (Federal, state government, investors and host communities), were in the picture of whatever change was to take place. Since the change was ostensibly not in the seeming interest of the Oro people, they probably had refused the decision for a change.

Expatiating on the reason for relocation, spokesperson to Felak Concepts Ltd, the Transaction Advisor/Consultants, Mr. Ezekail Adamu, said, “The relocation of the $4.6 billion Ibom Deep Sea Port (IDSP) from Okposo to Ibeno is not political but based on professional and engineering decisions. Five locations were initially shortlisted for the mega-project expected to provide no fewer than 300,000 jobs. Out of the five locations, Okposo was selected as the site at the preliminary stage based on initial/ preceding studies for the Initial Due Diligence (IDD), which itself was subjected to further studies and research to ascertain its suitability,”

It must be noted that the chosen location would be about 20 nautical miles from the Deep-Sea Trade Route, while the other locations could take up to 75 nautical miles to access the trade route. Also, available data shows that while the seaport covered about 2,500 hectares of land, much of the industrial city covering over 14,000 hectares of land and the headquarters of the port would be located around the Mbo axis of the complex. Just like you have in Lagos, the Nigerian Ports Authority is in Lagos Island while the Port itself is in Apapa. So, the main structure of the Port is in the seaside area of the new location while the headquarters is in the Mbo axis.

The Secretary to Government of Akwa Ibom State and an Oro Son added, “Ibom Deep Seaport” was chosen to reflect the Akwa Ibom Brand, explaining that the previous name “Ibaka Deep Seaport” did not project the state in global light”. The SSG explained that the seaport was off the Atlantic coast of Unyenghe/Ibeno, assuring that the state government would integrate all interests in the siting of the seaport. He urged his kit and kin to look at the bigger picture of the benefits of the project and not the name or location by acquiring relevant skills and qualifications that would enhance their chances of working at the port, when it becomes operational.

Like Mr. Akan Okon said recently, the people of Oro “should position themselves academically and professionally in order to benefit maximally from the project and not bicker over location and change of name. It is not about struggling for location but positioning our people practically by training and upgrading ourselves. Just like the Lagos Port, the impact of this port will be felt in the 31 Local Governments Areas of the state. Akparawa Ephraim Inyang said, “When this seaport comes, custom will give license to Nigerians irrespective of the ethnic group and how are our people working towards that? How are we building structures to take advantage of that seaport? how many people in our localities are using their little money to build a house so that during the construction people will see where to rent?

Instead of bickering over name change and location (the minutest of the project challenges), methinks leaders of Oro nation should bury their hatchet or grievances, close ranks with the state government and occupy a pride of place in the said project. Oro Leaders should look at the bigger picture; that is the multiplier effect that this gargantuan project will bring to Oro people, the state and Nigeria in general.

1.The project will create 300,000 direct jobs and millions of indirect jobs

2. More than 70 million dollars will be saved from illegal fishing activities.
3. Allied industries will berth in Oro nation to boost commerce, other economic activities. Also, hotels, housing, transportation and other businesses will thrive.
4. The revenue of the state will quadruple leading to more development and improvement in the living standard of the people.
5. As a trans-shipment port for the West and Central African region, the Seaport which is expected to handle container break-bulk, dry-bulk and liquid cargo will stimulate business activities and lead to a gargantuan leap in trans-national trade activities, as it would handle large vessels that can load over 13,000 containers in one voyage.
6. IDSP is unique and strategic to the maritime economy and international trade portfolio of the country and has the potency in launching the state and the country into a robust regime of international trade and other international business transactions.

In conclusion, let me say that Akwa Ibom state is one be it Ibibio, Annang, Oro, Ekid or Obollo and no one tribe is bigger than the entirety of the state. It is also trite to note that no one kills someone he will take part in burying. Petitioning or writing directly to investors over a project due to name and location change is bad blood taken too far. There is need for caution on the part of Oro nation and other stakeholders. All the negative vibes flying around in a bid to rub mud on the person of the Governor is done in bad light. It is scaring investors away too. Oro leaders should sheathe their sword, return to negotiation table, accept the name and location change, and cut a deal on what share or benefit the host community should have in the entire project. It is time for Oro leaders to start encouraging their children to pursue marine related courses, trainings and programmes. This will prepare them as first beneficiaries of the choice positions and job placements when the port operations commence. They should also start arranging allied businesses such as hotels, restaurants, transport and haulage firms among others. That is how take advantage of the soon to commence project and not to fight over ephemeral issue of name change and location.

This is not the first time federal or state project is relocated to another place and the name changed. The project is done for the overall interest of Akwa Ibom people. If Ibeno, Ibiono Ibom or Eastern Obollo people saw reasons with government, Oro people should show maturity too and let things be for the peace, progress and prosperity of Akwa Ibom State. This is the bigger picture of Ibom Deep Seaport whose headquarters is still located in Ibaka, Mbo, Oro nation.

God bless Akwa Ibom State

Aluu Vincent (PhD in View), is a Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst and Publisher of Naija Eye Witness News
Re: Ibom Deep Seaport Brouhaha: Looking At The Bigger Picture by AlexBells(m): 11:32am On Sep 30, 2021
Thank you for bringing the plights of this Oron people to the limelight, the governor should carry them along, if every tribe of Nigeria is like the Oron, Nigeria could have been better, they really got my fancy really proud of Oronites
Re: Ibom Deep Seaport Brouhaha: Looking At The Bigger Picture by slimfit1(m): 11:44am On Sep 30, 2021
I can't see any picture.
Re: Ibom Deep Seaport Brouhaha: Looking At The Bigger Picture by MrSamsung(m): 11:45am On Sep 30, 2021
Wow. This looks like a comprehensive report about the issue.

Since the headquarters and other things besides the actual seaport is still located in Ibaka, Oro people should stop the bickering and fighting. They should get behind the state government and support them.

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