The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had publicly claim that the Oro people of Akwa Ibom were the reasons against the construction of a seaport in the state which attracted public groan against the third ethnic groups in the state. But an indigene of the area, Engr. E. Nkpubre, a former MD/CEO of NigerDock PLC, former director, Engineering, Nigeria Railways and the Chairman, Oro Nation Technical Committee on Ibom Deep Seaport has responded to the state governor’s proclamations on the seaport project.
“Concerning the avoidable controversy surrounding the Ibaka Deep Sea Port project, let me categorically say that no investor would want to waste his hard earned money or borrowed funds to go and dig out a dry land equivalent to about 150 football (Soccer) fields to create an artificial ocean for a Deep Sea Port in Ibeno LGA when a natural harbour with undredged draft of 11meters is close by at Ibaka, only 10km away.
That is why the Chinese who first expressed interest in the Deep Sea Port withdrew. That is why the French (Bollore) who emerged as preferred investor withheld investment. That is possibly why the Federal Government withdrew both equity and investment guarantee.
Let the whole world know that Oron Nation is not against the change of the name of the Sea Port from Ibaka Deep Sea Port to Ibom Deep Sea Port as falsely claimed by Governor Udom Emmanuel. What Oron Nation is against is the unjustified relocation of the Deep Sea Port based on a clearly fraudulent criteria and also the ill-advised idea of a Dugout Port”. He said.
The Engr. asserted that it was blatant lie that the people of Oro Nation drove away investors as claimed by the Governor. That the people first wrote to the Governor to express strong reservations about the plan to relocate the Deep Sea Port from the technically most preferred location and the contemplation of a Dugout Port with its environmental implications.
“Oron People requested the Governor to address issues raised in their petition. Unfortunately the Governor ignored and rubbished the Petition Oron People sent to him. Oron Nation was therefore pushed to disclose to the whole world the fraud and falsehood in the rationale for the relocation of the Deep Sea Port and the idiocy of the Dugout Port contemplation. This idiocy was made more manifest when recently a 160meter ocean vessel fully loaded with petroleum products at a draft of 9meters sailed through undredged Ibaka Bay to Virgin Forest depot on Mbo River”.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel should be man enough to tell the truth to Akwa Ibom people and not add to the monumental injustice and injury he has caused Oro Nation by trying to rubbish the good image and integrity of Oron People. He has not told Akwa Ibom people that it would take at least 3years to dig out 1.5 square kilometre of dry land to a depth of 20meters for an artificial ocean for a Deep Sea Port. He has not told Akwa Ibom people that no such Deep Sea Port in an artificial ocean is operational anywhere now in the whole world. He has not told Akwa Ibom people that EIA is yet to be carried out and approved for such a massive excavation. He has not explained how the millions of cubic metres of excavated earth from the Dugout ocean is going to be evacuated and disposed of”.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel should be held totally responsible for denying and frustrating the opportunity for Akwa Ibom State to host the 1st and biggest Deep Sea Port in Nigeria. Godswill Akpabio worked with the Project Delivery Team set up by the Federal Government and was set to complete Ibaka Deep Sea Port before leaving office in 2015. Due Diligence Studies was completed, the most preferred location near Ibaka was selected, land was acquired and EIA approved. But when Deacon Udom Emmanuel entered the Government of Akwa Ibom State in 2013 as SSG, he decided to deploy ethnic chauvinists from his majority ethnicity to frustrate the building of the Deep Sea Port at Ibaka in Oron Nation. He started thinking the unthinkable – removed the Deep Sea Port from Ibaka to Ibeno to be built as a Dugout Port in an Artificial Ocean”.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel claims that the location the Deep Sea Port is moved to is Uyenghe which is still in Oron Nation. This is a blatant falsehood. Let Governor Udom Emmanuel show to the whole world the Political Map of Akwa Ibom State. The location the Deep Sea Port is moved to is completely and totally in Ibeno LGA. The Map below, from the approved OBC for the Port shows the boundary of Ibeno LGA and the proposed location of the Dugout Port. (Red is Dugout Port, Yellow is Free Trade Zone, Blue is Wave Barriers). Even the Free Trade Zone which was supposed to be predominantly in Mbo LGA has been moved completely away from Mbo LGA.
Map showing government’s relocation of the Seaport
It is true that the part of Uyenghe forest which the Deep Sea Port is planned to be moved to used to be in Mbo LGA. But in 1970, the then Military Governor of the Southeastern State, Brigadier-General U. J. Esuene forcefully annexed the area to his Eket Division. When Akwa Ibom State and Ibeno LGA were created, the area fell under Ibeno LGA. The motive of Governor Udom Emmanuel is very clear. He wants to move the Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone out of Oron Nation towards his Onna LGA as remotely technical as possibly, no matter the cost.
Akwa Ibom people should be thankful to Oron Nation and its team of experts for checking the senseless contemplation of a Dugout Port as a greenfield Port in a littoral State like Akwa Ibom which is surrounded by water. This in future could have become a disaster of unimaginable magnitude”.