The infectious excitement and general approval that greeted the emergence of Bishop Etim Ante(NSOH) as President-General of Oron Union on December 28, 2019 were, no doubt, strong signals to the great expectations and altruistic transformation that the highly cerebral and celebrated administrator and emancipator is to bring to the Pan-Oro socio-cultural organization.
It is pertinent to quickly foreground that the extant mandate of Oron Union, in a nutshell, is to champion and harness the integrated and composite interests of the culturally homogenous and politically dynamic of the five local government areas of Oron, Okobo, Urueoffong/ Uruko, Mbo and Udung Uko towards collective growth and development.
The election of Bishop Etim Ante, an inimitable democrat, grassroots mobilizer and bridge-builder, was the glorious consequence of a keenly contested election that followed democratic norms and procedures to the letter. Hence, because of the seamless and transparent adherence to rules by the stakeholders in the process, the outcome of the election had come without the slightest reservations from other contestants who rather freely had since congratulated the winner and instantly expressed their confidence in his ability to live up to expectations.
There can be no question that Bishop Ante is coming to the demanding office with a rich endowment of experience in his kitty, having already been so exposed and tested in various positions of responsibility for the Oro people, Akwa Ibom State and the country at large. It is no wonder therefore why some have described his elevation as timely, strategic, epochal and auspicious in view of the identical concerns and pressing needs of the Oro Nation in contemporary disquisition.
As expected, the new President-General did not bother anybody with hypotheses but promptly launched out with a lofty programme of action embedded in a well-structured, ingenious and realistic 10-point agenda. According to the level-headed and pragmatic cleric of impeccable credentials, the loaded package include unification, constant homage and sustainable collaboration with the traditional institution through the Council of Oro Traditional Rulers (COTR), youth empowerment, women emancipation, and enhancement of security.
Others in line are cultural renaissance and sustainability, regular interface with stakeholders, robust engagement with state and federal government on appointments and infrastructural needs of Oro Nation, result-inclined partnership with International Oil Companies (IOCs) and others doing business in Oro Nation, and general interest interventionist policies on the principle of discretion.
With eyes set on such holistic objectives, it would therefore mean that Bishop Ante is bringing to the table probity, clairvoyance, pragmatism, and egalitarianism in the governance of Oro Nation using his office as a utility vehicle. It would mean that he is passionately concerned about inclusiveness, unification, emancipation, empowerment, repositioning and fortification of the collective destiny of Oro Nation and her subsisting stakes in the Akwa Ibom cum Nigeria socio-political narratives. With such innovative ideology and blueprint, it would summarily imply that he is primed to stimulate the status quo for more pragmatic approach to the yearnings of Oro Nation. Nothing could be more welcoming!
There is a consensus that Providence may have manipulated past events and appointive engagements of Bishop Ante to prepare him for the greater tasks in this moment of our history. Naturally intelligent and academically articulate, Bishop Ante has held several positions in the ecclesiastics, corporate institutions and across the three tiers of governments. An elder of the bishopric cadre, he has been the International President of Essu Nlap Oro(Supreme Council of Oro Nation Youths); Chairman Caretaker Committee, Mbo Local Government Area; Special Assistant on Youth Matters to former Governor Godswill Akpabio; and PDP South/South Zonal Publicity Secretary. Beyond the terrain of politics, Ante popularly known as NSOH has served excellently as Vice President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Akwa Ibom State Chapter, as well as Chief Executive Officer, NSOH Nig. Ltd., an existing reputable petroleum marketing firm.
By any measure, whether on the political stratosphere or social strata, Bishop Etim Ante is justifiably not a greenhorn. He is rather a reservoir of cognate and cumulative experience. Hence, nobody in Oro Nation both at home and in the Diaspora is surprised that Bishop has reached the incumbent position in his committed service and leadership responsibility for his people. There rather has been a chorus of proclamations that his election and emergence are commiserating rewards for his selfless and iconic involvement in the corporate affairs of the Oro geo-political delineation.
This theory may have been given more meaning and impetus by the fact that, although by dint of hard work and legal enrichment, he has always been blessed with the wherewithal to have chosen to live in the best of places anywhere in the world, Ante as an incurable grassroots custodian is today celebrated as one of the few well-placed Oro indigenes who has spent practically all his life residing in Oro with his people.
Having known and seen all within the prism of his age and events, he thus enjoys the superlative confidence of history about his people – their cosmology, geography, demography, shared lots, aspirations, challenges and prospects – the rudimentary things a good leader must know about his people is offering himself to serve.
This is one inimitable credential that Bishop Etim Ante is generally expected to effectively utilise and deploy in redefining and rewriting the enviable story of Oron Union and its constituents.
Acknowledging with humility and gratitude the invigorating contributions of his predecessors in office, Bishop Ante accordingly has stated that his administrative machinery shall, apart from sustaining inherited gains, aim at fortifying the foundations, rijiging bureaucratic machineries through altruistic innovations, and expanding existing scope and frontiers towards bequeathing a quintessential model that shall uplift Oro Nation to newer and stronger pedestals.
It therefore can be submitted without the slightest fear of contradiction that political stakeholders, government appointees, youths, students, women and indeed the entire Oro Nation in its diversities, at last, have gotten a youthful visionary, pragmatist, dependable home-grown leader of contagious charisma and competitive sagacity, rounded adviser, successful entrepreneur and trustworthy ally-in-consultation for the growth and development of Oro Nation.
To the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, and the generality of Akwa Ibom people as an indivisible entity, their dealings, expectations and confidence in Oro Nation may never have been so broad and necessary than now that a bridge-builder, trusted politician and detribalized force, Bishop Etim Ante has triumphantly taken the reins as President-General of ORON Union.
Having been established 92 years ago in 1925 as one of the foremost and vociferous socio-cultural organizations in the South-South region of Nigeria that most successfully pioneered regional integration and growth, the Oro Union in spite of vicissitudes in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom socio-political evolutions has progressively continued to make distinct statements of the grand reasons that informed its formation, supporting every good government in power, and not deviating in its mission.
As immediate successor to Chief Mrs. Janet Amba, here now is BISHOP ETIM ANTE on the saddle of leadership as the newly elected President-General of the never-say-say die Oro Union. Repeatedly promising to do his very best, he therefore solicits the support of all and sundry to succeed in his new office.
Sir, as you take us through another epoch of the history of this great Union, Oro Nation wishes you a prosperous and happy new year! Congratulations to you once again!
Edet Okpo, an Uyo-based Journalist is a Public Affairs Analyst and renowned Maritime Commentator.