By Our Reporter
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said, it would take up the completion of the abandoned palace project of the supreme traditional ruler of Oron Nation, Ahta Oro, Akwa Ibom State’s third largest ethnic group.
The Managing Director of the commission, Mr. Nsima Ekere, announced this during a courtesy call on him in Uyo on Sunday by the Oro Think Tank, the political arm of Oro Nation which comprises of five local government areas.
Ekere said the NDDC would complete the project, as requested by the body, as part of its corporate social responsibility to the Oro Nation being a major oil-producing area in the state.
He, however, suggested an upgrade of the design of the project which had been abandoned due to lack of funds.
The NDDC boss also announced the award of contract to check the ravine encroachment on Oron Road leading to the beach in Oron local government area.
Ekere recalled that his first contract award on assumption of office in November 2016 was for the construction of road to Enwang, the headquarters of Mbo local government area and hometown of a prominent Oro leader, Late Chief Etim Inyang, a retired Inspector-General of Police.
He stated that the commission was working on the preliminary design of the Coastal Road to link coastal communities in the Niger Delta including Oro Nation, Ibeno, Esit Eket, Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo.
Ekere disclosed that the commission was presently executing electricity projects worth over N20 billion in Akwa Ibom State, adding that one of its major projects in the state was the dualization of Abak Road to Ikot Abasi to link with East-West Road.
He promised that the upgrade of electricity facilities in Oro Nation would be included in the next budget of the commission.
The NDDC boss assured Oro people of his continued support and identification with them.
“The present and former Chairmen of Oro Think Tank have acknowledged that I am a friend of Oro Nation,” he said. “I will always be a friend of Oro Nation. Your worries are my worries. And together we will uplift the standard of living of Oro people. I assure you that if there is anything I can do to upgrade the quality of life in Oro Nation, I will continue to do so within my power. I share in your passion for the development of Oro Nation. As long as God gives me opportunity, I will continue to ensure that development gets to Oro Nation.”
In his address, the Chairman of Oro Think Tank, Dr. Monday Dickson, lauded Ekere for the quality of roads in the Niger Delta, including Oro Nation, constructed by the commission under his watch, describing it as a complete departure from the past.
“For this, you and your team deserve to be commended,” he said. “Specifically, Oro has witnessed a generous allocation of road projects by the commission under your watch.”
Dickson declared Ekere as a friend of Oro, saying, “Oro people know their friends. We can confidently describe you as one of the few friends of Oro in Akwa Ibom State. It is on record that during the Oro governorship struggle of 2015, you were the only person outside Oro who made a public case for Oro governorship despite being an aspirant.”
He also spoke of Oro’s expectations in 2019.
His words: “Richard Pride, the Welsh radical preacher, had centuries ago said that ‘a government corruptly chosen and under corrupt influence after being chosen becomes a nuisance and produces a worse form of government.’
“Sir, we are elated that 2019 is around the corner. Oro people are in brakeless anxiety waiting to exercise their franchise in favour of a friend who will restore Oro to its political lost glory. We count on your understanding and support.”
A former Chairman of Oro Think Tank, Chief Okon Osung, commended Ekere for his concern for Oro Nation and expressed the belief that he will fast track on NDDC’s project delivery in Oro Nation.
In separate interviews with newsmen after the event, the Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State in the National Population Commission, Engr. Ben Ukpong, a former State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Arc. Otu Ita-Toyo, and a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Barr. Effiong Abia, lauded NDDC’s development strides in Oro Nation under Ekere’s watch and assured him of the continued support of Oro people.
Other personalities on the Oro Think Tank delegation were the Secretary of Board of Trustees of Oro Union, Prof. Eka Uwe, the immediate past President-General of the union, Dr. Effiong Edunam, a former Secretary-General of the union, Chief Bassey Isong, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Greece, Dr. Etim Uye, and wife, Edu, a former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Okokon Antigha, two former House of Assembly members, Prof. Ibia Edet Ibia and Prince Emmanuel Inwang, two former Commissioners, Sir Nukak Ante and Prof. Okon Eminue, four former local government Chairmen, Chief Effiong Johnson, Barr. Effiong Oquong, Chief Edet Isong (Windy) and Chief Okon Tom Usung, a USA-based activist, Dr. Umo Amba Ekanem, Prof. Valerie Asawana, Chief Ulo Ante Uye, Chief Mary Inyang, Barr. Effiong Akwa and Mrs. Edu Adams.