Oro Has Fared Better Under Gov Emmanuel – Chief (Mrs.) Amba


Ninety-two years after Oron Union was established, Chief (Mrs.) Janet Amba, a stallion with admirable track record of achievements in public and private sectors emerged the first female President of the formidable organisation, which is the umbrella for Oro people in Akwa Ibom State. Chief Amba, blessed with beauty and brains, played host to the Editorial team of Crystal Express in an exclusive interview recently.
She took our team of Editors on a memory lane recounting how, from her humble beginning, she rose to the pinnacle of her career and the current position as the First citizen of the great Oro Nation among other salient issues. Excerpts:

Could you give us your abridged autobiography for the benefit of our readers?
I am Janet Amba from Oron both by birth and marriage. A fun-loving and happy person who never allows anything distract me from my focus. I am married with six children (one medical doctor, engineer etc) and a grandson. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon but remaining focussed and believing in God, i was able to acquire good education up to the higher institution during which period I got married. Before my HND finals, I already had four children. During the period under review I was fortunate to work with the National Boundary Commission, moved from there to Federal Ministry of Works. After my NYSC, I got a job with Exxon Mobil and worked there for eight years. I later joined Eco Bank where I worked for few years before deciding to work on my own. Today I am an entrepreneur of about 20 years and run a janitorial company. I started with two staff, myself and one other person but today we are over 500. We have over 10 branches in Nigeria doing the same job and in between I owed a hotel in Abuja. I pride myself as an entrepreneur of repute. I said this because it is not easy to manage this number of staff from day one till date without owing salaries. I am also a good home manager. About five years ago, I got introduced to politics. Before then I was already deeply involved in community service. I have served in various positions in Oron Union in Abuja. I was the Vice President National (female) before my eventual emergence as the first female National President of Oron Union. I became the President when the union was 92 years as it is now 94 years.

How has it been and what motivated you to aspire to the helm of affairs of Oron Union?
It is just looking at the world as a common platform for everybody to run. God created man and woman and God does not discriminate on gender. Quality doesn’t know gender. I know my strength and passions. I have made my marks in community service.I have been a good entrepreneur, a good wife and a lovely mother. In addition to passion for community service, I have unparallel passion for excellence. When I came for the election, I was confronted with several challenges and that energized me. Challenges give me more zeal, I told those opposing a woman from emerging as President General of Oron union. I only respect the laws and am also a much disciplined person. God was my strength all through. He ministered to me to come effect positive changes and God saddled me with courage. My principled lifestyle further reinforced my determination and I wasn’t worried about what people will say. Oro men, no doubt, are the most civilized and they gave me a level playing ground in addition to soft landing. At a stage nobody saw me as a woman any longer but as an achiever who will add colour and value to the union.
Two years down the line, how have you fared with their mandate?
Well for me because of my energy and person, I came and met several disputes between our people and immediately sued for peaceful co-existence. I started by reconciling the feuding factions. I did it for the council of Traditional rulers, for the youths and the union itself. This is the first time you have the president of Oron Union not fighting with COTR in court. I told them in clear terms that I came to work with them like daughter and father relationship. In 92 years Oron Union had no administrative office but on assumption of duty, I ensured we have secretariat with full staff complements and 24 hours a day and 7 days a week running administrative secretariat with functioning telephone lines for every enquiriy, a website for the union etc which on its own is an achievement.
No President General of Oron Union in 94 years has ever sat in an office. Therefore I came determined to work daily, reside in Oron town and go to work daily from Monday to Saturday. Oro people have benefited so much from these services. Another thing I have done which has received commendation from my people is to upgrade the Civic Centre,Oron. I recalled that on the night of my election we were using our phone touch lights to conduct elections. However 24 hours after my election I fixed the generator and connected the centre to the National grid so anytime there is public power, we enjoy it too. I also upgraded the entire environment. Today we have a world class civic centre. In our 94 years of existence, as Oron Union, it was in my time I assembled the great people of Oro in a town hall meeting to discuss our future and even the cripples among us were given opportunities to contribute.
I have restored discipline to the activities of the union,. Those who ran foul the law have been slammed with suspension. People could not believe I will enforce discipline to that level and complained but I stood my ground since I acted within the ambit of the law. Don’t forget that the President General of Oron Union is the administrative head of the entire Oro nation and only next to the Atah Oro and deserves respect. I always stand by the truth. I met a weak institution and worked hard to fortify and strengthen it.
However my biggest challenge towards realizing my major goals has to do with financial challenges. Sadly our people, especially those in government, hardly contribute towards the development plans we have. For instance, we have a museum which is yearning for our attention to develop into a tourist site and attraction. Look at our youths, most of them need adequate empowerment. The less privileged ones in school deserve scholarship and other assistances. I have done a whole lot personally but can’t achieve much in this direction because of lack of funds. We also have those with various forms of disability and need empowerment. But I can only do these satisfactorily, if I have more money. Therefore my major challenge in this last two years as president general of Oro union is finance and nothing more. But the rest of the issues I have handled to our satisfaction.

How has your leadership synergized with the State government to develop your area?
When I assumed office, i told my people that government now accords due recognition and works with social cultural institutions like ours to bring development to the communities.
But our former leaders misled us with stories that we should not be involved in politics, forgetting that after God is government. If you don’t work with government, you cannot attract any form of development to your people.
Again recall that there were high hopes for an Oro governor in 2015 which could not materialize. But we were rather asked to support Udom Emmanuel which we accepted in good fate. But some of our aggrieved brothers joined the opposition party. However with the choice of Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem as Secretary to State Government, I returned and told Oro people who left for opposition parties to immediately return to the ruling party in appreciation of the Governor’s efforts. Also remembering that in 2023 when Ibibio men from Uyo become the Governor, an Oro man will be his deputy and may succeed in becoming the Governor at the right time. Our support for Governor Udom Emmanuel is massive. So politically I think we are very stable and giving the incumbent governor massive support to succeed.

How would you rate the development of Oro nation under the incumbent governor?
It is a lot better than the previous administrations when we stayed without roads and light. Governor Udom Emmanuel listens. Like I told my people, before now, we don’t even have political leaders who go to the government to table our problems as government is not spirit to know our challenges. Look at a big community like Oro nation, we never had a town hall meeting, how do you then know the people’s problem to draw government attention. After my town hall meeting, we came up with a 14-point communiqué some of which borders on what they want from the Governor. So handy with the communiqué, the Governor can choose one or two and do for our people and solve the problems. For instance check out the road leading to my home in Oron which was criticized on social media by youths, today the governor is reconstructing it. When last year the Governor came to inspect an erosion prone area of our community, I told him we have lost two children to the menace including houses and schools. He immediately awarded the job for construction, so the government will depend on information to act and resolve problems.
Another milestone I have recorded is being able to revive the unity and brotherliness between the Ibibios and Anangs with Oro people. That is most important to me. When I visited Ntisong Ibibio, he expressed surprise over my demand for peace, unity, love, justice and fair play from our Ibibio brothers at all times. He thought that my visit was to ask for support to contest public office. The same was the expression from Itai Afe Annag. The paramount ruler of Eket was happy. In fact after my visit to the Oku Ibom Ibibio, he was so elated that he adopted me like his daughter. So the attentions they all gave to me were for Oro people and it is one of my greatest achievements in two years.

Your formation of another youth group- Oron Union Youth- against the existing Esu Nlap Oro appears to have elicited mixed feelings in Oro. Why the inauguration of a parallel youth group?
What happened is that the union has a constitution which recognizes the formation of the youth wing, student wing, Oro Union think-tank and the Elders forum. My predecessors for whatever reasons could not succeed in ensuring the emergence of these blocs. My immediate predecessor actually said he planned doing them but was frustrated. I also saw it myself when the Elders tried to dictate to me but I stood my ground as the President General who knows what is good for her people. I took leadership decisions after due consultations devoid of any personal interest. Remember that whatever we do now we do for the youths and posterity. We should prepare the youth to take over the leadership in all political spheres through mentorship, empowerment and creating a better platform for them to realize their dreams. Guided by the constitution, I decided to ensure that all the arms, all the wings and all the bodies of the union recognized by the constitution are resurrected and functioning optimally. I started with the women’s wing, then the youth wing. For clarifications I consulted the youth group Esu Nlap Oro and told them that they are supposed to be the youth wing of the union and persuaded them to join the larger umbrella but they turned down the offer, reminding me that they are already registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as an independent body and I moved on. However I reminded them that registering with CAC has made them an independent body and thus speaks for them alone as a business entity. On that note I inaugurated the Oro Union Youths and inform all the major stakeholders that they are the people to work with when the need arises. I formally introduced the youth president to Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio and he attends their meetings when necessary. Esu Nlap Oro is more of a pressure or political group and has no business with other social cultural groups. This is also the first time we are having Oron Union think-tank. Before now they call it think tank and was made up of a three-man body. But I went to them and informed them that the think tank should be a standing committee in the Oron Union. But they said no, that they are independent with certificate that they are registered. I said it’s a good deal for me, ‘if you are registered, you have no business with the union’. I went and set up my Oron Union think-tank and informed the public of their existence as stipulated by Oron Union constitution. When you see some attacks here and there on my person, it is because of these proactive decisions. Today all the wings of the union are working. I also galvanized and brought back all the former presidents into the Elders Forum. As I will be leaving the office soon, I will naturally join the Elders Forum and the think-tank. These are the few things I have been able to achieve which do not go down well with few people.

You are about serving out your first term as President General. Do you have plans to go for a second term?
I have had endorsements and support with encouragement. My people said I have done well and deserve to consolidate on my achievements but I have declined such offers. Top public officers in the State have also contacted me to go for a second term but I turned down the offer. Even top traditional rulers in the State have encouraged me to continue but I refused and said it in clear terms that my mind is already made up to serve just one term and I don’t go back on my words. More so I have fulfilled all my pledges and promises and needed time for the home front. However even as a former PG, I will remain a strong voice and continue to contribute my quota to the upliftment of the union. I will ensure that together with other like minds that, we will have a successor who will consolidate on the legacy I will be leaving behind.

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