Oro And The “Blackgold” Chase Game


About 14 days back, a reputable news organization in Akwa Ibom State, The Ink Portal, carried a condensed lead banner story that “Oro Nation seeks secession”. It was a big story and was catchy enough to capture the attention of relevant stakeholders of the Akwa Ibom project. It is worrisome that although the story deserved a town hall deliberation, it has died with time, as something not deserving of serious attention.

Of course, Oro Nation is the third largest ethnic nationality in Akwa Ibom State, made up of five local government areas of Mbo, Udung Uko, Oron, Okobo and Urue Offong/Oruko. It is enormously blessed with huge reserve of intellectual human capital, the water that empties into the Atlantic Ocean and a sumptuous reserve of mineral resources, especially the crude oil.

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Regardless of the fact that the story was not a result of a position paper of the Oro people, it sure had been a product of one of the comments made recently by an aggrieved youths of Oro Nation. As reported, the President, Oro Youths Movement (OYOM), Comrade Victor Mkpofor, had made the statement. He was speaking during the protest meeting with stakeholders of Oro Nation at the Oro Civic Centre.

That meeting was attended by political stakeholders of Oro Nation led by distinguished Senator Akon Eyakenyi and the deputy Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Chief Felicia Bassey; Chief Okon Osung, Chief Jerry Okpo, Prof. Peter Esuh and Dr Monday Dickson. Others included the President-General of Oron Union, Bishop Etim Ante; Chief (Hon.) Okpoyo Etifit, Chief Asukwo Enweme, Prince Chris Abasieyo; the International President of Essu Nlap Oro, Ulap Great Edemumoh, and many others.

It was an explosive demonstration of resolute desire to break free from the grip of wanton marginalization and enduring injustice. Led by Lovestic Esu, Esq, Omen Bassey, Esq, Christian Nyong, Esq, Comrade Victor Mkpofor and many others, the youth set themselves out to demonstrate resistance to what the agents of the state had done to Oro.

It was an instant reaction from the tripartite meeting of the Akwa Ibom State Government, the ExxonMobil and the oil producing communities in the state held recently in Ibeno. At the meeting, Ibeno, Eastern Obolo, Eket, Esit Eket, ONNA and Ikot Abasi were fully represented as oil producing communities. Unfortunately, those who called the meeting disregarded the feelings and reactions of Oro people by going ahead to hold such an important interface and setting out modalities by which the oil company could compensate the communities, especially in the provision of corporate social responsibility and so on.

Without fear of contradiction, it is heartlessness that a person or group of persons could concoct ideas to strangulate the Oro people and exclude them from enjoying the proceeds of oil exploitation on its soil and waters. There is no difference between the colonial masters who took the precious things of the African soil and got them oppressed in the process. It is absolute brutality, senselessness and inhumanity that a people who share common values are rather gathering to steal what belongs to their brothers in a broad daylight.

For the avoidance doubts, oil exploitation is said to have lasted for about 60 years in Oro Nation. The oil companies, especially the Mobil have been around for donkey years, tapping from the soil and waters of Oro. It was such persistent refusal of the powers that was in the state that caused the spirited effort of Hon. Robinson Uwak, former member, Oron Federal Constituency, to carry out an extensive research which culminated in the frequent visitation of four committees of the House of Representatives. Those committees went by land, by air and by water, doing a fact check on the soil and waters of Oro.

Consequently, the exercise ended with a substantial proof that the whole five local government areas of Oro Nation were oil producing and oil-bearing. An official report had been laid before the National Assembly and the same forwarded to the presidency which in turn mandated the Akwa Ibom State Government, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) the Ministry of Niger Delta and the ExxonMobil to recognize Oro as oil producing. The memo dated July 9, 2013 was endorsed on July 10, 2012 by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

Truly speaking, the non-recognition of Oro as oil producing remains highly provocative, offensive and insulting. As OYOM President, Comrade Victor Mkpofor noted, the negative development is worth the anger of the Oro people. The grievance borne in the process can provoke people into taking up arms, just to prove a point. It is unfair and absolutely embarrassing to the Oro people. As Omen Bassey once observed, there are copious geographical and scientific confirmations to the fact that Oro is oil producing. This, as noted by Umoekeyo Uno, Esq, “Oro is sumptuously oil producing and anyone attempting to say otherwise is deceiving himself.”

Obviously, it is an undue provocation for a Governor like Deacon Udom Emmanuel to have pretended as if he doesn’t know that Oro is oil producing. It is indeed insulting on the part of Mobil Producing Nigeria to assume such position of meeting with oil-bearing communities in the state, without being sure that all stakeholders are represented. Psychologists say that actions speak louder than words. Could that deviation from the norms of practice have been a silent way of asking the Oro people to do their worst?

In the imagination of her adversaries, Oro stands unrecognized as oil producing. Are these agents of division aware that a veteran Oro lawyer, Umoekeyo Uno, had won Assam Assam, SAN in a law suit bothering on land ownership which connects this oil-bearing status? Are these ambassadors of dispossession aware that without Oro territorial waters/boundaries, Akwa Ibom will never be known as littoral State? Are they unconscious that this ugly display of hatred is enough for Oro to seek a breakaway so they can stay in their territorial boundaries in peace? What is unknown to them is that Oro could reach that position as a last resort and as a test case.

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