True Enemies Of Akwa Ibom State And The Rest Of Us

True Enemies Of Akwa Ibom State And The Rest Of Us

By Barr. Ewa Okpo

The Street Lawyer.

 

Everyone who’s known me closely know I’m not tribalistic. In fact, you lose me when you talk tribe regardless of the justice of the cause you seek reason being I’ve lived, schooled and worked the better half of my life before now in places where I’m ostensibly a stranger; Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Kanu/Katsina, Abuja and even the state next door- Cross River State where my mother comes from and I’ve been maltreated as a stranger and respected as a prince at different times and circumstances in these places. I’ve suffered denials regardless of my merits based on ethnicity so I know the hurt but it is my choice not to replicate it in any way. Two ethnic bigots makes the world a warzone.

 

But my Governor the other day made a spontaneous statement he may not have intended to mean what most of us have interpreted it to mean about Òro Nation and the Proposed Sea Port and what I have seen and suffered since then has been heart wrecking.

 

I’ve seen people whom I’ve hitherto taken as friends and family tear Òro Nation down with words of hatred like we’re the cause of their life’s challenges.

 

I expected to read from upstanding and well meaning Akwa Ibom people of non Òro extraction their unprejudiced analysis of the entire situation because an Òro narrative I suspect may be too Oro-centric.

 

Alas! In stead, of my friends to share their knowledge about the history of the Akwa Ibom Sea Port Project, its naming, its location and the politics under play what I see is people pelting Òro people without hearing from them.

 

I expected to see my friends tell us how the Sea Port shouldn’t be named after its location like it’s done everywhere in the world in line with Sea Port Myths including all the six sea ports in Nigeria with superior arguments like that the location of the Sea Port being a contributory arrangements of lands and waters from neighboring local government areas showing facts and figures. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had problems with the naming of the project.

 

I expected to see my friends publish their findings on how the sea port cannot be sited exactly on Ibaka waters due to the oil pipes on Ibaka waters (which justifies our age long agitations to be recognized as oil producing and host communities and should be so given our due) which would be damn too expensive to relocate and that the said port is now “shifted” not “relocated” to yet another nearby location within Oro called Unyenghe in Mbo LGA even though the ownership of the said location is now in court as other non Òro Local Government Areas have dragged Mbo to court claiming ownership of it and by extension the Sea Port and nobody is blaming them for doing that.

 

I expect to see my friends dissect the said petition written by Òro nation in content and intent, including when it was written, why it was written and considering whether they had done anything before then and were compelled to do so as their only resort to get the attention of the Governor against those shielding His Excellency from them.

 

I expect to see my friends state when the state government held meetings with the stake holders of Òro nation over the said port, what finally led to that meeting, who directed that the meeting be held, and what was the resolution, outcome and followup of the meeting.

 

I expect to see my friends talk about the politics, structure and engineering of a sea port- what it takes, how long it takes, who and what is required and the reality of achieving ours in the quickest possible time like Tin Can Island was quickly built without ending up with the challenges of Tin Can Island especially considering the fact that ours is proposed to be far more bigger and smarter than all the ports in Nigeria put together

 

I expect my friends to name and shame Òro people who have been working so hard to sabotage the unity of the state and success of the port project vis a vis non-Òro people who have actually done the real sabotage against the Port project over partisanship or to atleast recognize the sincere efforts of other Òro sons who have practically put their lives on the line to see that we as a state actualize the sea port project.

 

I expect to see people of Akwa Ibom State especially elected and appointed functionaries (e.g Governor’s Aides) make concerned and concerted efforts to reconcile interests; mediating a provoked Governor with a frustrated Òro people.

 

But what I’ve seen this past few days wrecks my heart. I see my friends go to war against me and the rest of Òro Nation. I see them post all sorts of contumelious ethnic prejudices. Sadly, while some of us are trying to see how the Governor and Òro nation can come to a round table and shake hands for the benefit of the state my friends instead of joining us to make the job easy on us are rather stoking more fires with their ignorant and provocative posts on an issue they like the brethren in Jude 1:10 know very little or nothing about. Bestial irrationality, Jude calls it.

We even went as far as publicly admonishing our kith and kin for inveighing Our Excellency at sunrise only to find out next door neighbors rain invectives on our patriarch by sunset. To them, it’s another commerce in the guise of solidarity.

 

And guess what, they recently leaked an arranged reply to a letter they’re afraid to leak as well. How can the same person who says I should go and work with you turn around himself to refuse to work with you? How come nobody is asking how did we get here without pointing accusing fingers at us? Did the people just wake up to kick against the project from day one? Did the people have genuine questions? Were the questions answered? How were they answered? What were the answers? Did the people find the answer further questionable by any reasonable man’s standard?

 

How come nobody is asking what are the fears of these people? Do they have reason to be so afraid? Have they suffered likely misfortune in the past before? What will we all lose if we listen to them this once?

 

Expecting these questions of my friends perhaps is asking too much of friendship I’ve been told last night and severally this morning.

 

But they forget that the greatest victims here are those of us- their friends and brothers- Òro people who have been working hard with all sincerity to convince our people that Akwa Ibom is one and that the Governor has the best of interest for us all. They pit us against our own who now see the entire episode as all the proof they needed to affirm we’ve been lying to them all along. They endanger our lives.

 

Show me your friends they say and I’ll tell you who you’re. With such friends I’m scared who I may become. I mean friends who throw our friendship to the wind and take on us like we’re mortal foes. Some anyway, have been circumspect to avoid me but I see them through the windows; on the comment sections of others, on their walls with tacit innuendoes calling for the my head. Some even argue with me not to know but to push the narrative that Òro is anti-Akwa Ibom. Some have even mocked me. The other one even wished a certain Herod was on the throne to send us all to the gallows. The other one said we should be sent to Creek town where according to his jaundiced sense of history is our true home.

 

But then this whole drama ain’t about me. It’s about the Ibom bond. It’s lost. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never wanted you to clap for Òro people whether right or wrong but to crucify us is beyond terrible; to flog a people and ask them not to cry, to cut a pet dog deep and punish it for bleeding. Truly, it is stupid to be angry with one who’s more powerful than you knowing he can beat up when he’s angry with you and when you’re angy with him, but it’s suicidal stupidity not to raise alarm for help when it happens.

 

Perhaps if everyone of us thought about that one Òro friend we have we’d have acted nobler but then it appears friends never had me as friends or comrades to start with. Apparently, I’ve been the only one thinking myself a friend and acting by the friendship and for the friendship all along.

 

Dear Lord, so even the one whom I’m been of immense help to, even the one who tries to speak a little Òro when he sees me or other Òro fellow around, even the one who says how he or she would have married from Òro, even the one who says glowing things about Òro people whenever we’re around, even the one I thought was my brother, my sister, my comrade…?

Not that I didn’t know any better. I only prayerfully believed it untrue but like Job in the bible what I feared the most has come upon me. Dear God, forgive me if my faith is now lost.

But verily, verily I’m confident that this whole episode will pass but so will our bond as friends and brothers too if caution isn’t courted.

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