A Tale of Oro’s unending tirade
Akwa Ibom is richly blessed with the best of mineral resources (we know), and characters in diverse moulds; one of which is the Oro Nation – the Nation who always want to be seen as small-important and hard-to-get.
With due respect to the handful of exceptions there, the minute ones who do not sum up to one-fourth of the entire Oro populace have always given a rather sour impression of the noble people, under the guise of one socio-political body or the other.
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If it is not the ‘Think Tank’ today, it is ‘Oro Union’, ‘Akpakip Oro’, ‘Esu Nlap Oro’ tomorrow, or some other unnamed group in the news.
From the word “go”, some Oro people have always been on their trouble tracks, refusing, resisting and insisting.
Three administrations ago, they had resisted the closure of the old Oron road where the Airport runway was to pass through. The women of Okobo practically went naked on the street, cursing that the god of their nakedness will destroy the then state Governor if their land is used for the Airport. Their reason was simply because the project according to them, held no singular benefit for them. Following their very shameful act and petitions, Obasanjo who was then the President, had to come down to instruct that no airport should close the old Oron road.
Sometime in 2020, the same people mounted the streets, protesting an alleged marginalisation by the state government and the multinational oil firms operating in their locality.
The protesters, comprising youths, men and women from Mbo, Okobo, Udung Uko, Urue Offong-Oruko and Oron, halted economic activities as the commercial town of Oron was locked down for over three hours.
And the height of it was their costume – the protesters were ALL dressed in black, with placards and banners bearing inscriptions such as, “Exxon Mobil and others must recognise Oro or leave’’; ‘Akwa Ibom Government is a threat to peace’’, among others; we all saw it!
It didn’t end there; they further sought an order of the court, directing the State government to pay the sum of N4Trillion to them as compensation and damages for the wrongful and unconstitutional “exclusion of the Oro nation as an oil and gas producing community.”
The Ibaka Deep Seaport which is being discussed today also has its story which hinges on the change of name and change of location. The same people had vehemently refused the name change from Ibaka Deep Seaport to Ibom Deep Seaport on the flimsy grounds that “a lot of Oro natives had purchased landed properties in Ibaka, in preparation for business opportunities at the Port”, and that “Oro will not accept a seaport which does not properly accommodate and integrate the interest of the Oron people”.
Isn’t it obvious that some Oro people are not just selfish but self-centred? Was the Seaport meant to be owned, managed and run by them as an inheritance or a birthright? Does the government not withhold the right to change settings and arrangements based on prevalent circumstances? Yes, it does. No ethnic group owns a public project built with taxpayers money and the goodwill of a few selfless individuals.
It therefore implies that if this third largest ethnic group in Akwa Ibom were to have been the host of the International Stadium, they would have resisted its renaming after the former Governor simply because it was so designed from the onset.
Lest they forget, the Seaport is neither a state project nor a national affair. It is an international affair hence, the earnest scout for investors who will buy unto the vision. As such, writing petitions and waging written wars would only spell stagnancy and abandonment of the project. And so, the lands which they claimed to have bought will remain idle for them.
As much as we know, the Governor has nothing against the people of Oro. No one will go through the stress of seeking approval for such huge project and winning the hearts of investors over, only for a group of selfish people to stall it with cheap sentiments called petitions.
As a matter of fact, anyone coming to invest in the project believes they are coming to do business in Akwa Ibom. No one cares about Oron, Uyo or Ikot Ekpene so it’s high time Oro Nation stopped their shameful demonstrations and beclouded sentiments. The communality of the Akwa Ibom which we share should make us see whatever project anywhere as “our” collective property and not the Anang, Ibibio or Oro project.
Let it not be recorded that Oro people are not Akwa Ibom conscious as this would paint an appalling picture of them before their brothers. It is not too late to look back, rethink communalism and change the narrative. We are still one!