y Magnus Effiong
Former Deputy Governorship candidate, Prince Chris Abasi-Eyo, has said the 1.15km Offi-Uko Nteghe bridge, believed to be the fourth longest in Nigeria and the longest built by a state government in the country, is a great gift the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration would give to Oro nation.
Abasi-Eyo, who is the Spokesperson, PDP/Umo Eno Campaign Council, in a telephone chat with PillarToday, said with the Commissioning of the bridge scheduled for Monday, January 16, 2023, the Oron people would have forgiven the administration of other deprivations.
The former Chairman of Oro Think Tank believes that the bridge would usher in economic emancipation for not only Mbo people but the entire Oro nation.
“The completion of the bridge indicates that the deep seaport will work. It shows that the Oil & Gas Solution project will also see the light of day; the Ibom Industrial City and Free trade Zone will work through that bridge and I know that the bridge will lead us to economic liberation.
“The joy of our people, seeing the completion of this bridge, knows no bounds. Some of our people had lost faith that it could happen in their time. It is an amazing reality and this shows greater things will come,.
“On behalf of Mbo people and the entire Oro nation, let me once again thank His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel and our son, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem and other persons who have, in one way or the other, made this dream a reality,.
“We know that no government can do everything but this bridge is a great gift from Governor Udom Emanuel government to us and we cherish this gift from the bottom of our heart,” he submitted.
Going memory lane, the former Information Commissioner said “soon after the commencement of the British rule in early 1900, there was a frantic effort by the colonial government to open up the hinterland with roads. We know that they came in through the sea as such they made efforts to open up roads.
“Between 1902 and 1905, Eket-Oron road was opened up through the instrumentality of the then Calabar District Commissioner. Efforts were made to open up adjoining roads, so Eket-Etebi-James Town road was one of such roads which was to link Eket, the divisional headquarters to the Atlantic ocean. It was to be an important highway.
“In 1940, the British/Nigerian government deployed one Engr Fidelis Kops to begin the modernisation of the said Eket-Etebi-James Town road. Dug out boats were used to ferry people across the Offi – Uko Nteghe river since, because of the shallow nature of the water, pontoon, which could have carried cars, could not be employed
“In early 60s, during the government of Sir Michael Okpara, the Premiere of the then Eastern Region, leaders of defunct Efiat Mbo Union paid a courtesy call on Chief Okpara. They pledged to support his second term bids and Okpara, in turn, conceded to their reguest that he was going to work on the bridge.
“Contract was awarded, contractors mobilized to site and works actually started but the breakout of the civil war caused the work to be abandoned and since then it had been promises upon promises from successive State governments until today that we now have a bridge.”
Abasi-Eyo therefore called on the Akpakip Oro people to give the Udom Emmanuel’s government all the support it would need to finish strong.
Recall that the Offi-Uko Nteghe bridge had been a subject of controversy and anger between the natives and officials of the Godswill Akpabio-led administration which reportedly awarded contract for the bridge to not less than three contractors as soon as he took over as Governor. Regrettably, nothing tangible came out of that effort.
Our reporter gathered further that former president, Goodluck Jonathan, is expected to do the formal commissioning of the bridge with a mammoth crowd of indigenes of Oro nation from home and abroad, top government officials from both federal and State levels expected to add colours to the epoch-making commissioning with their presence.