Ambassador Francis Eno Is The Obong Mkparawa Of Eket And National President, Core Oil-Producing Communities Traditional Supreme Youth Leaders. He Spoke With TONY ANICHEBE.
17 months on, are you impressed with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?
Yes, if you take the prevailing circumstances before his coming into power, you will agree that he has done well for the country notwithstanding the recent economic challenges facing the nation. Partly you can trace it to the global downturn in oil prices, the restiveness in the Niger Delta among others but the government has tried to address some of the issues.
I am most impressed by the recent release of the 21 Chibok girls when all hopes appeared lost. The release is an indication that the government has been working assiduously without media hype and we only get to see the results.
Again you observe that the firepower of the Boko Haram group has been considerably whittled down showing that the insurgency will soon be a thing of the past, we must give kudos to the government on this too. However while commending the president on these feats, I appeal that the president should use every possible means to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls to rejoin their families.
As a parent I know what the families have gone through. More so for those who have been released, every support should be given to them to secure their future. Outside thorough medical attention, Mr. President should grant them scholarships to university level in any school of their choice anywhere in the world. With that they will overcome the trauma and stigmatisation that followed their unfortunate sojourn with the dreaded group.
Can you say the same about the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel’s 17 months in the saddle?
Governor Emmanuel took over at a time I considered best for our people. God has a purpose for sending him to us at this time. Looking at the economic situation today and the governor is still moving the state forward speaks volume of his rare managerial skills and capacity to take the state to the next level. For instance he ensures salaries are paid to workers promptly and also various projects are presently been undertaken in the three senatorial districts of the state.
One of the best policies of the state government is that of industrialisation which will take the youths off the streets in their thousands. And when most of the projects fully come on stream by next year, I see the focus of Nigeria moving to Akwa Ibom State, I see most people wanting to be Akwa Ibom indigenes and people trooping down here for business, we will see here as mini Dubai, there will be mass relocation of the people here with the coming on stream of the steel industry, lead industry, automobile industry and Agricultural processing plants, coconut processing industries among others.
These are not mere wishes but things that are on papers and some already on ground. I see Akwa Ibom workers moving round on long buses with inscription such as Ibom steel, Ibom seaport etc., moving from Uyo to industrial estates in Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi and other cities. I see high-rise buildings springing up with people from all walks of life coming in through the airport.
These things I saw will manifest between 2017 and 2018 because enough groundwork had been done to see its fruition.
How do you see the disparaging comments against former governor Godswill Akpabio in some quarters?
We must show respect and reverence to our leaders be it political, traditional or religious leaders. Akwa Ibom in particular have been blessed by great leaders, most recently is Senator Godswill Akpabio. A man like Akpabio should be celebrated daily by our people rather than vilifying him.
He changed completely the psyche of an average Akwa Ibom man and completely eradicated the houseboy syndrome from our lives. His eight years sojourn is a story for another day. I weep whenever I see people who should be celebrating his heroic acts spending energy to run him down. Senator Godswill Akpabio is God’s special gift to Akwa Ibom people and Nigerians.
You are a respected traditional youth leader in the Niger Delta region, what are your people doing to help curb restiveness in the region.
Though the problem in the Niger Delta region is a complex one, there is hope for permanent and realistic solutions if the government desires to address the challenges. First, Niger Delta region produces the resources, which the nation enjoys but the region and her people, lives in abject poverty.
The problem of Niger Delta did not start with the incumbent administration, the degradation of her environment had been ongoing for decades but we must look for solutions. As a youth leader, I have been networking with several other youth leaders to preach peace in the region.
We must encourage dialogue to address the problems. Violence will only worsen the already bad situation. Bombing and blowing up of pipelines will only destroy further our already bad ecosystem. When the nation is talking about returning to agriculture, which land would the Niger Delta people cultivate? We must begin to reason positively and embrace the dialogue offered by the President. We must embrace dialogue to move the region out of her present predicament. We are appealing to the youths to drop their arms and get better empowerment package.
Government must sincerely and genuinely resolve the Niger Delta crisis through massive development of the region, empowerment of the indigenes and restoration of the already battered environment. We as youth leaders will compliment government efforts by appealing to our brothers to see reasons why we must work with government to protect not just our future but also that of our coming generation. Our youths must understand that peace is the language the world is longing for not violence.
They should always be patient and use dialogue and negotiations to get results of whatever they sought for.
How do you see the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration?
The president’s anti corruption war is a welcome development. Nigeria must be rid of vices militating against our greatness and prosperity. Corruption appears to be an accepted norm at a time in this country and have penetrated every nook and cranny of our national life. We must join hands and support the war against corruption by mounting advocacy from our families to the society and every other level.
What our dear country have lost to few corrupt people can collectively change our destiny if the funds were properly invested in the nation or used to build social amenities and industries. Look at the country today, you have collapsed roads across the country and no funds to fix them, you have teeming population of graduates without jobs or even industries to employ them yet you hear of billion carted away by just one man into foreign accounts. It is pathetic and sad.
However while applauding government efforts to return Nigeria to the path of sanity by getting looters return our collective patrimony, there must not be any sacred cow and no innocent man should be a victim in anyway. Federal Government through her Agencies working to drive its ant-corruption war should carry out their job in most civil way and follow the laid down rules. I am particularly worried by the way and manner the judges were recently arrested and subjected to inhuman treatment in the hands of security operatives.
We are in a democracy and must operate within the confines of our constitution. That is not the best way to treat senior citizens on mere allegations and let us not forget that it is only the court of law that can convict a person and until that is done the person remains innocent.
So while we observe the rule of law in the arrest and prosecution of the alleged offenders, I appeal to the judiciary to embraces patriotism and support the government efforts to rid the nation of corrupt elements drawing us backwards.
You have been in the vanguard of ensuring peace in Eket nation through community policing efforts, what prompted this?
As a traditional youth leader, one of my mandate is to ensure peaceful co-existence among my people and to guarantee peace in a region like ours that is occasionally restive we must ensure adequate and total security in our communities.
I have worked over the years with the police force and have come to appreciate their patriotism and love for our country. Starting from the Inspector General Mr. Idris Umar a core professional officer through the D.I.G’s and A.I.G’s, to our police commissioner in Akwa Ibom, Mr. Murtala Mani, I can say that Nigerian is blessed with intelligent and pro-active police officers the same applies to the rank and files.
If you go through records you will appreciate the fact that Akwa Ibom once produced an Inspector General of Police in the person of late Etim Inyang who passed on recently. He brought a lot of reforms to the force. After him we have not been lucky to have another I.G but we have lots of distinguished officers who have excelled in the force.
During my last meeting with the Inspector General of Police, I particularly appealed to him to promote C.P. Victor O. E. Onofiok to the rank of A.I.G. He is such a patriotic fellow, cultured, disciplined, hardworking and intelligent police officer with great potentials. I appealed to him to encourage people like that to continue to lift professionalism in the force.
Until you get closer to our police force then you will understand that the force has some of the most intelligent and committed officers in the world. We need to encourage and appreciate what they are doing for us to have peace and security in our communities.
The New board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will soon assume work, what is your advice to them?
I must start by appreciating Mr. President for painstakingly choosing people with impeccable character and integrity to serve on the board. I am particularly thrilled by the choice of Obong Nsima Ekere as the Managing Director of the NDDC. Ekere will turn around the fortunes of the regions using NDDC.
His wealth of experience as an outstand entrepreneur, technocrat and businessman will enable him leave a footprint in the sands of time. The Board Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba has great antecedents and he is a goal getter, a humble politician and great team player.
His combination with Nsima Ekere will put smiles on the faces of the people of the region. However there are lots of jobs to be done in the region. There are lots of abandoned NDDC projects across the region thus the New Board must be proactive to ensure that attention is given to abandoned projects. Roads within the region are in deplorable states, efforts must be made to fix them.
Empowerment of youths through skill acquisition must be considered to curb restiveness while outstanding youths should be given scholarship to further their education and training abroad.
The list is endless the new board must draw an action plan and follow it religiously to help the region move out of this precarious position soonest. Youth leaders in the region should be involved in the scheme of things to help ensure that there is peace, justice, equity and fair play always in the distribution of amenities and other largesse.
Source: New Telegraph