By Joseph Atainyang
The Chairman of Oron Nation Technical Committee on Ibaka Deep Seaport, Engr Okon Nkpubre has clarified that Oron people never drove away investors from Ibaka/Ibom Deep Sea Port project, as is being wrongly peddled.
He said that the on-going narrative by agents of Akwa Ibom State government that Oron Nation drove away investors from Ibom Deep Sea Port, due to its name change from Ibaka Deep Sea Port to Ibom Deep Sea Port was false and deliberately cooked to give a wrong perception about Oron People in the eyes of the public.
According to the revered Engineer, Oron Nation is not particularly averse to the rebranding of Ibaka Deep Sea Port as Ibom Deep Sea Port, Ibaka, inline with the State Government’s policy of branding Government’s infrastructures in the State, such as Ibom Air, Ibom Power Plant, etc, with the name “Ibom”.
He emphasized that what Oron Nation is vehemently against is the relocation of the Deep Sea Port from a location within Ibaka Bay, selected during Due Diligence Studies as the best and preferred location, to a location rejected during the same Due Diligence Studies, to be built in an Artificial Ocean as a Dugout Port.
Engineer Nkpubre pointed out, “It is alarming that a littoral State like Akwa Ibom, which is surrounded by water and endowed with Ibaka Bay Natural Harbour, would be contemplating to dig out an artificial ocean for a Deep Sea Port. This is nothing but the evil of ethnic discrimination in the siting of development infrastructures”.
The distinguished Engineer and former MD/CEO of Nigerdock Plc, made clarifications as follows: “It is not true that Oron Nation drove away investors from Ibom Deep Sea Port. What Oron Nation has done is to unveil unassailable facts and figures about the Deep Sea Port to allow all concerned, including intending investors judge for themselves whether the relocation of the Deep Sea Port from the preferred location and the contemplation of a Dugout Port, make any sense”.
According to the Oron born Engineer, “Oron Nation deserves to be appreciated for maintaining the peace in the face of intense provocation due to blatant acts of discriminations by the Government of Akwa Ibom State.
“For instance, Ibaka Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone (FTZ) was conceptualized to be in Mbo LGA of Oron Nation which produces the bulk of Oil accruing to Akwa Ibom State.
“The Free Trade Zone was in the list of Free Trade Zones awaiting approval for about the past ten years. Later the whole world was told that Liberty Free Trade Zone was a NICKNAME for Ibaka Free Trade Zone (See link: https://awajis.com/ibaka-oil-gas-free-zone).
“And when Ibaka FTZ was finally given approval, the name was changed to Liberty FTZ. But, with utmost impunity and insensitivity to the feelings of Oron People, not even an inch of the area previously covered by Ibaka FTZ is included in Liberty FTZ.
“Not even one LGA of Oron Nation including Mbo which was the host of Ibaka FTZ, is included in the 6 LGAs covered by Liberty FTZ. One may ask, why is Liberty FTZ not branded Ibom FTZ?”
He further stated, “The Government of Akwa Ibom State has been very unfair to Oron Nation and insensitive to the feelings of Oron People concerning the handling of Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone projects, including the fact that, of all the much talked about industrialisation of Akwa Ibom State by Governor Udom Emmanuel, not even one of the industries is sited in any of the 5 LGAs of Oron Nation.
“It would be recalled that it was Deacon Udom Emmanuel that the then Governor Godswill Akpabio used to deny Oron Nation her turn to produce the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2015.
“One would have expected that Udom Emmamuel, after becoming Governor in the place of an Oron person, would be more sensitive to the plight of Oron people. But the reverse is the case. This is a classic case of adding salt to injury.
“We must be reminded that there is a God above who unquestionably presides over the affairs of men. Therefore men should desist from acting as if they were God” he admonished.
The elder statesman observed, “In spite of all attempts to deprive Oron Nation the benefits of its rich maritime environment, it is very heart-warming for Oron people that an Ocean Vessel, 160 meters long, fully loaded with 15 thousand tonnes of petroleum products, at a draft of 8meters recently landed at a dredged creek near Ibaka Bay in Oron Nation.
“This is the first of such vessel to berth in Akwa Ibom State”. Engr Nkpubre acknowledged.