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Eket-Ibeno Road: When thank you isn’t enough

It was visible from the mammoth crowd that trunked the occasion of the commissioning of the Eket-Ibeno road last week Wednesday, by His Excellency, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State to mark his 2nd year in office that the oil rich zone had been burdened by the deplorable state of the 19.5km road, which became a trap that claimed so many lives, rendered many physically challenged over the years. It was also very glaring from the smiles that greeted the ambiance of the occasion, that the people heaved a sigh of a great relieve from an aged long infirmity that had kept them wondering, why the Federal Government and its multinational affiliates had decided to plunge its people into servitude with their produce swelling their vanity.

The Eket – Ibeno road that was remodeled and constructed by the Udom’s administration is a story of a barefaced robbery from  a domineering client “ExxonMobil”  whose only priority since she strayed into what my colleague, Assam Abia in his piece “ The Odious Politics of ExxonMobil 8BILLION Oil spill palliatives”, described as “oil sting politics” decided to strip the people of their inalienable right of provisos, through their corporate social responsibility (CSR), dabbling into the murky waters of Nigerian politics and neglecting community values.

I wouldn’t want to bore my readers with rhetoric’s of whether or not ExxonMobil contributed their quota to funding of the Eket-Ibeno road, whether the 8billion was their counterpart funding for the construction of the said road or not; far from the essence of this piece is this controversy, but rather, a reflection of how appealing this magnificent establishment is to the people, and how appreciative the people are to the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, whom through all divergence is known to have funded 95% of this project.

Tucked in my subconscious over the years was an idealistic vision; I was travelling on a road made with gold side by side my son. The inscription on this road was “a beautiful Akwa Ibom”, but getting to the end of this road was a prefix by a multinational giant “ExxonMobil cares”. Still in the battle of width with my complicated mind in an attempt to decipher what all inscriptions meant, my son asked me daddy, between the Akwa Ibom State government and ExxonMobil who cares? My attempt to answer that question was amidst the fanfare that wrapped the happy moment of the commissioning of this once ramshackle and forgotten road.

I choose to answer my imaginary son in the context of my make-believe discuss, that Akwa Ibom State Government under the leadership of Udom Emmanuel cares for Eket –Ibeno people than ExxonMobil does. Digging into the Archives of revenue generated and disbursed to both the Federal and State government by this multinational, a publication in the Nation newspaper of October 22, 2014 written by Emeka Ugwuanyi stated that the 2014 Energy Outlook Series that highlights contributions to economic growth, future energy supply and demand forecasts, and local capacity development, among others, made available to The Nation, showed that the Federal Government receives over N1 trillion in revenues from the firm’s operations yearly. He also narrated that It showed that since 2001, it has been contributing over N130 billion to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), as the Act that established NDDC mandates oil producing companies operating onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta region including gas processing companies, to contribute three per cent of their total annual budget to the commission’s purse.

Ugwuanyi further stressed that the same 2014 Energy Outlook Series also showed what ExxonMobil has been doing in its host community in Akwa Ibom State. The report said: “ExxonMobil over the last 10 years has contributed immensely to the economic growth of Akwa Ibom State. “Our focus goes beyond the rigs to the livelihood, social, structural and economic development of the state and its people. We pay over N6 billion on the average annually as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax to the state in addition to ground rent of over N230 million annually to the state government.

The writer woke my consciousness with this figures that amused me, he announced the extent of hatred meted on us and the slavery we the owners of the resources have been immersed in. it spelt out the conscious marginalization of our benefits, stripped bare by those we entrusted our resources to, exploiting with politics and blowing a trumpet of an assume meager insertion in the guise of counterpart funding. If the aforementioned as stated by Ugwuanyi are true, why shouldn’t Eket – Ibeno people be proud of their practical brother Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, who has defeated the chains of slavery and carved a niche in the ancestry archives of gubernatorial succession? Why shouldn’t they stand agog for his 95% contribution to the actualization of a dream that was never conceived by the Federal government nor completed by our white skin brothers?

I can recall as a child, in one of the sweet little moments with my grandfather, he told me a story of missionaries who came into their land with bibles and a concealed aim of taking over the lands, they lured them into closing their eyes while they prayed, before they could open their eyes, they turned into slaves as the missionaries had their land and they had the bible– there is a seeming similarity between the story my grand dad told me years ago with the Eket-Ibeno road desertion by succeeding governments and the foreigners who decided to veer from the signed pact with the communities, whose land they desecrate through their exploration and gas flaring.

A similarity in the sense that our supposed counterpart lured us into servitude, with our natural resources in their usage, just before we could open our eyes; destroying our heritage in our very before.

Thank God for the visionary of the Dakkada dogma, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, a proud son of the Federal Constituency that owns the goose  laying the golden eggs, who out of provocation from the victimization and marginalization that had befallen his people, despite their magnanimous contributions to the growth of the country/state economy, declared during one of his electioneering moves through the road “NEVER AGAIN SHALL THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGG BE ABANDONED”

The most astonishing attribute of this promised delivered -19.5km Eket – Ibeno Road is that in the face of a recessive economy, Governor Emmanuel lives above his greed, covering the tract that would have allowed succeeding generations witness the unfairness and failures of the past.

Even as we mourn those who lost their lives on the course of plying this route, but there is consolation in the fact that there shall be no reoccurrence.

Akwa Ibom people says thank you Governor Udom Emmanuel

Eket –Ibeno people says thank you is not enough, with you we stand till 2023

Even the APC members who ply this road says thank you His Excellency.

 

Edet Edet (Publisher- iReportersng.com)

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