Obong Elect, Etubom Anthony Ani
The Obong elect of Calabar, Etubom Anthony Ani has promised to assist in the completion of the over N4 billion Federal Government road project abandoned 25 years ago in Cross River state.
Pillar Today findings showed 27 kilometre road from Adiabo to Ikoneto was abandoned with the demise of late General Sani Abacha but the section covering the Adiabo bridge over the Calabar river to Tinapa junction was completed.
Etubom Ani who made the promise on Thursday in Calabar when Ekpo Edem Efiom Duke Royal house, one of the Efik royal houses paid him homage in the series of visitations to him as a mark of solidarity and loyalty, decried the total neglect of his people for years saying, “we must shine our heritage and move ahead. We must be of good people and be progressive“.
In this regards, he declared, “since I left government in 1998 the federal road from calabar to Ikoneto was abandoned but I will assist government complete that road”.
Pillar Today findings further showed that the entire stretch of the 33.8 kilometre road from Calabar to Ikoneto with a spur to Creek Town was awarded by the late General Abacha’s regime when the Obong elect was the Minister of Finance and contractors fully mobilized to site .
Apart from the bridge at Adiabo which was completed by Setraco, the rest parts of the road and few bridges cutting across Adiabo through Adiabo Akanobio, Governor Bassey Otu’s village to Ikoneto, Etubom Ani’s village, was abandoned with the demise of General Abacha in 1998.
This road was to equally produce easy link to the riverine villages of Creek Town and others from Calabar so as to avoid the risk of going by the Calabar river or covering a long distance of passing through Calabar-Odukpani-Okrikang road to Okoyong- Ikoneto-Creek Town and other villages.
Similarly, the road was to serve as an easy link to Akwa Ibom state through the Okrikang axis of the Calabar-Itu road.
Commenting on the plans by Etubom Ani to assist government do the road, a resident of Ikoneto, Mr Otu Edem said, “this is a welcome development for the people as the road will ease means of transportation and help farmers and traders in our axis and even neigbouring Akwa Ibom state”.
Recall that Ntufam Eta Mbora had in 2002 when he was a member representing Calabar Municipality /Odukpani Federal Constituency called on the Federal Government to complete the road which a section was awarded to Transporters and Utilities Construction Company Limited (TUCC) with contract A, but was later terminated at a percentage completion of 30 per cent on 3 January 2002 due to poor performance by the contractor
He had stated that the length of the Calabar-Creek Town, Ikoneto road section (i) and (ii) is about 33.8 km, while the section (ii) which is the Adiabo bridge (over Calabar River) channel 22+700 to Tinapa junction in Calabar is about (6.10km) which had been completed and in partial use from Ikoneto to Adiabo bridge which is about (27+7km) long traversing through the swamps of Calabar River flood plains and terminating at the west bank of the river is left unattended to because of the termination of the contract in 2002.
Besides the road project, Ani promised to build a multi billion Naira automobile truck assembly plant in Odukpani, the outskirts of Calabar to employ Cross Riverians and also a befitting palace and cottages for the Etuboms.
A cross section of guests from Ekpo Edem Efiom Duke Royal house during the visitation on Thursday
Etubom Ani said over the years he has done much for the throne and in the 36 months time, he will “build a palace similar to the Buckingham palace in London. The Efik kingdom will change for the better we have to change for the better. We need an attitudinal change, we have to support our governor and with good health in next five years I will change things”
On the Obongship, he reiterated that he did not institute any lawsuit against the throne of the Obong of Calabar, but rather he dragged the Etuboms Traditional Rulers Council and Western Calabar Traditional Rulers Council to court to seek redress for the injustice meted out on him during the contest for the Obong of Calabar in 2008.
He said from the High Court to the Supreme Court, the verdict was the same, “go back and start the selection and election of the Obong from a clean slate”, as the processes that led to the emergence of the current holder of the office was fraudulent and devoid of fairness and natural justice.
“I have always maintained that the process at which the other Obong got to the throne is wrong. I was the only candidate that was screened, but I was shocked how they said Abasi-Otu is the Obong of Calabar”.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation from Ekpo Edem Efiom Duke Royal House, Etubom Archibong Ironbar, said the Ekpo Edem Efiom Duke Royal House came to pay homage and pledged their total loyalty to the Obong-elect.
He described the Obong-elect as a man of enormous goodwill and generosity who has been at the forefront of promoting and advocating the interest of the Efik people both at home and abroad.
Dr Ironbar expressed the confidence of the Ekpo Edem Efiom Duke Royal House in the capacity of Etubom Ani to lead the Efik kingdom towards the path of sustainable development, peace and unity.
He added that his impeccable credentials and leadership acumen were not in doubt, hence the Nigerian government during the time of late Sani Abacha, appointed him Minister of finance and also of External Affairs.
The Royal House also lauded the Obong-elect for his virtues of patience, tolerance and peace, adding that these virtues had enable him handle with maturity the controversies generated as a result of the tussle for the throne of the Obong of Calabar.
“Efik kingdom has been looking for someone for so long. Different people have been coming out but today we now have a God-sent. We have been in darkness for long. But finally God have not allowed all our prayers to waste,” he said.
Earlier in their separate remarks, the Chairman of the Etuboms Traditional Rulers Council, Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok and the Paramount Ruler of Calabar South, Etubom Nyong Effiom Okon, affirmed that there is no other Obong of Calabar other than Anthony Ani.
They, however, called on the people to rally round the Obong-elect, adding that it was indeed time to write the wrongs of the last 15 years and bring the illegalities in Efik kingdom to a permanent end.
Dignitaries present at the event include Etubom Ephraim Etim Nsa, Etubom Micah Archibong (Secretary of Etuboms Traditional Rulers Council), Etubom (Amb) Nya Asuquo, Etubom Ephraim Nsa Etim, among others.