Udom’s Divisive Tendencies: Contradictions of Maintain Peace Movement

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By Friday edem

The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel has just lunched a political group known as Maintain Peace Movement (MPM). The governor performed the ceremony on Friday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, where he preached peace among all citizens of the state. Unfortunately, the occasion itself and the governor’s speech therein, have become a direct contradiction of what the actions of his administration actually portrays.

For instance, the governor called on Akwa Ibom people to reject any aspirant who fails to embrace peace. While inaugurating the national executive committee during the grand unveiling of maintain peace movement (MPM), he said that peace shall endure beyond his tenure in the state and that anyone who takes over from him must be a man of peace.

“I stand in the gap as the leader in the state to declare peace in the 31 Local Government Areas in the State”, he said. As Governor Udom Emmanuel reiterated, peace would be achieved in the state if everyone joins hands with the governor to produce the successor of his (governor’s) choice. To me this is self seeking. How can supporting the Governor’s choice of the person to succeed him be a condition for Peace in a Democracy. What Governor Udom Emmanuel is effectively saying is that if his choice of the person to succeed him is not supported by the people of Akwa Ibom State, there would be no Peace in the State. And voicing such inanities is a panacea for violence not peace.

Reflecting on all that has been going on in Akwa Ibom State under Governor Udom Emmanuel, one discovers that the whole concept of the Maintain Peace Movement is nothing but a charade and smacks of insincerity.

Governor Udom has christened his leadership as “superior performance”. The question is, which leadership is Udom’s own superior to? It is clear that Udom Emmanuel may be comparing his performance with that of his predecessor, Godswill Akpabio, who had been nicknamed the Uncommon Transformer. Unfortunately, while Governor Akpabio embarked upon and completed Land Mark Projects like the Victor Attah International Airport; the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, also known as the Nest of Champions; the Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort; and many others, Governor Emmanuel only concentrated his so called industrialization on areas of the State close to his Local Government Area and that of his wife. Such nepotistic attitude cannot engender Peace. The performance of his predecessor was definitely superior.

Let’s consider in particular the attempt by Governor Udom Emmanuel at total subjugation of Oro Ethnic Nationality making Oro Nation in Akwa Ibom State, a Time Bomb waiting to explode. Never in the history of Akwa Ibom State has Oro Nation been treated with such impunity.

All the Chairman of the 5 LGAs in Oron Nation were handpicked by Governor Udom Emmanuel and imposed on Oro People, in most cases against the wish of the people. In all his much touted industrialisation programmes, there is not even one of these industries located in any of the 5 LGAs of Oron Nation. The Oron-Uyo Road as an alternative to the closed Uyo-Oron Federal Highway and the Ewang-Etebi Road have become a mockery of Oron Nation as it struggles for survival as an ethnic minority in Akwa Ibom State six years into Udom’s administration.

It is on record that the bulk of Oil Production accruing to Akwa Ibom State which makes the State the highest Oil producing State in Nigeria is from Oro territory. Yet Oron Community is not officially recognised as Oil producing community while other communities which produce less Oil are so recognised. Oron Youths had gone on the streets of Akwa Ibom State to protest this abnormally. The Governor sent his loyalists in Oron Nation to stop the protest with the promise to address the issue. Up until this moment, the issue has not been addressed which necessitated some Oron Legal activists to sue the State Government.

Then came the Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone relocation from Oron territory to be built as an unusual Dugout Port some where else outside the politically recognised boundary of Oron Nation with Ibaka Free Trade Zone changed to Liberty FTZ and moved totally out of Oron Nation. All these, in addition to the jettisoning of the agreed Tripodal Model on rotation of governorship of the State amongst the three major ethnic Nationalities of the State, making it almost impossible for Oron People to ever produce the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Truth is, no one can be talking of peace in Akwa Ibom State with the way Oron People are being treated. The Video by the renowned comic actor Bishop Umoh alias Okon Lagos, which has gone viral in the State, attest to this. We can’t be talking about peace when there is no genuineness in governance, when there is so much deception and when there is marginalization of a part of the State with impunity.

We can’t be talking about peace when the only facility brought by the Federal Government of Nigeria to Òron Nation is conspiratorially being taken away. It is a great hypocrisy to have someone who blatantly subjugates and discriminates against you to then turn around and ask you to embrace peace.

For Oron People, if Governor Emmanuel really wants us to maintain peace, he should start by being fair to all sections of the state. He should treat Òròn Nation the way he treats other sections of the state. There is no good roads in Oron. There is no electricity. There is no evidence of governance. Oron People are being seriously provoked by being treated as if they are not part of Akwa Ibom State even though 70% of Oil produced in Akwa Ibom State is from Oron territory.

There is no way Governor Udom Emmanuel or any Governor who will succeed him can engender Peace between Oron People and the Government of Akwa Ibom State, if immediate action is not taken to implement Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone at the popular Ibaka Bay where the Federal Government of Nigeria intended it to be.

Friday Edem, a senior citizen of Akwa Ibom State writes from Mbo LGA.

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