Youths of Oro Nation, the third largest ethnic nationality in Akwa Ibom State, have perfected plans to sue the State Government over the “undue seclusion” of their land from the benefits of oil production.
The Oro youths under the aiges of Nlap Isong Akpakip Oro, the supreme youth body of Oro Nation gave the hint recently, saying it was public knowledge that the Oro land has been denied her due from oil exploration by successive governments of the State.
Speaking largely on the infrastructural deficit and moral destruction of the nation by Akwa Ibom government through “slavish” maltreatment and impunity, the President of the body, Barr. Godwin Etta wondered why the state government has been unwilling to accord Oro her due regard and blessings, even after being directed by the federal government to do so.
He informed the gathering that the group has commenced the process of securing an Order of Mandamus from the court to compel the State government implement the recommendations of the House of Representatives on the matter.
Etta who drew strength from a Press Statement issued earlier by Oro Think Tank (OTT), a sociopolitical hierarchy of Oro Nation on the marginalization of Oro, insisted that Oro has been pushed to the wall and does not have a safer alternative aside from resistance.
The statement which was titled, “THE STATE OF NEGLECT AND MARGINALIZATION OF ORO ETHNIC NATIONALITY IN AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA” and was jointly signed by the OTT Chairman, Dr. Monday Dickson and the Secretary, Mr. Christopher Abia, covered all areas of her neglect by the state government.
It would be recalled that the OTT had arranged a world press conference to address the activities of the state government against the progress of Oro and was allegedly stopped by strong machineries of the state government.
Accordingly, the President cited relevant parts of the paper thus: “It would be recalled that consequent upon a motion moved by Hon. Robinson Uwak, our House of Representatives member at the time, drawing the attention of the nation to the callous and unconscionable non recognition of Oro as an oil producing community, the House of Representatives sent five of its relevant Committees to Oro in 2014 on a facts finding mission.
“The delegation, led by Hon. Uche Ekwunife deployed boats and helicopters to access our high seas and ascertained the veracity of the claim made by Oro people through Hon. Uwak. To say that members of the delegation were stunned by the number of oil platforms hosted in Oro and the criminal neglect and deprivation suffered by the area is to say the least. They simply couldn’t believe that a part of Nigeria was treated as a conquered territory and raped with such level of impunity.
“They realized to their chagrin that within the suffering Niger Delta Region, there was a community whose experience was far more pathetic than what the world knew about the Region. At least, other parts of the Niger Delta region were recognized owners without commensurate benefits. Ours was a case of absolute subjugation, deprivation, denial and non-recognition.
“Through the recommendations of the Committees, the House of Representatives passed a Resolution urging government to accord recognition to the five Local Government Areas of Oro Nation as Oil Producing. In response, the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim issued a circular urging the Akwa Ibom State Government to give effect to the Resolution.
“Till date, no benefit has been accrued to any of the five Local Government Areas of Oro Nation as a consequence of that recognition. Sadly, oil exploration and exploitation in Oro have continued unhindered and the suffering has continued unabated.
“While non-oil producing parts of the State are being transformed into modern cities and their indigenes feeding fat on oil money, the community that produces the wealth is being strangulated to death. Why is it impossible for the Akwa Ibom State Government to set up an Oil Producing Area Development Commission as it is done by other oil producing States in Nigeria?
“We hereby call on the State Government, as a matter of urgency, to set up this all-important Commission to fast-track development of oil bearing communities.
“We also urge the State Government and oil companies operating in Oro to immediately give us our due if at all they are interested in peace. It is delusional to think that oppression will last forever.
“In addition to exploring other available options in seeking redress, we will henceforth draw the attention of the world to our plight in the hands of our own government”, the statement continued.
Another area of neglect, according to the statement, included the refusal of the state government to show interest in facilitating the upgrade of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron into a full-fledged university in spite of the passage of the Federal University of Maritime Studies, Oron (FUMSO) Bill by the Nigerian Senate.
The paper also condemned the “decisive abandonment” of a “deceptive and substandard” dualization of Uyo-Oron Road; surreptitious relocation of Ibaka Deep Seaport; inability of the present government to commence work on the Enwang-Etebi Road.
The statement as well, lamented that none of either the Statutory/Trunk “A” Boards or the educational institutions has an Oron person as the head.
Oro Think Tank had therefore asked the Akwa Ibom State government to officially respond to the location question of the Harbour of the proposed Deep Seaport, state what gives any other location the edge over Ibaka, and state why issues pertaining to the Deep Seaport project are shrouded in secrecy.