JOE EFFIONG, UYO
The Oro ethnic nationality comprising Oron, Mbo, Urueoffong Oruko, Okobo and Udung Uko local government areas of Akwa Ibom State has threatened to stop all elections from holding in their land in 2023 if the area is not allowed to produce the next governor of Akwa Ibom state.
The ethno-political group which is the third largest ethnic group and constitutes the Oron federal constituency and in Akwa Ibom South (Eket) senatorial district that the present governor , Mr Udom Emmanuel also hails from, has alleged that they have been subjected to all forms of marginalization and injustice by the Ibibio and Annang ethnic groups including depriving them from occupying the office of governor since the creation of the state in 1987.
In a press conference on Friday to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of Oro Bill of Rights titled, ‘Why We(Oron) Can’t Wait’, the Oro people maintained they will no longer be taken for granted in the governance equation of Akwa Ibom state.
The press conference was jointly addressed by leaders of the Oron National Forum (ONAF), Oron Women Action Group(OWAG) and the Oro Youth Movement(OYOM) at the Antofitel hotel, Oron.
National President of ONAF, Comrade Ita Ante noted that the state was founded on the basis of an ethnic tripod of Ibibio, Annang and Oro hence governorship of the state must rotate on the principle of the tripod.
Ante said that while the Ibibio and Annang have taken their turns in producing the governor, the Oro has been denied the opportunity to rule the state.
”It is disheartening to note that Oron which accounts for over 80% of crude oil produced from Akwa Ibom state has been wantonly neglected and excluded in the democratic governance of the state.
”In recognition of the tripod stand of the state, Ibibio, Annang and Oron to achieve cohesion, peace, justice and peaceful coexistence, the political/traditional leaders agreed that in distributing/sharing of political positions, a ratio of 5:3:2 in favour Ibibio, Annang and Oron respectively be strictly applied.
”In all honesty, this has been in practice since the creation of the state until 2007 when the tripod principle was jettisoned by Governor Godswill Akpabio for senatorial district basis deliberately to deny Oron their rights to produce a governor in 2015”, he said.
The ONAF president also alleged that the Oro people have been marginalized in terms of infrastructural development and sitting of key economic institutions.
Ante said that the recent relocation of the Ibaka Deep seaport from Oro territory to another part of the state was a clear indication that they are being neglected and abandoned.
”The project was conceived 21 years ago by Governor Victor Attah as part of the industrialization plans of the state. It was designed to be sited at Ibaka in Mbo local government area with the deepest nautical depth East of the Niger.
”Many years after conception, and contrary to the expectation of Oro people in particular and Akwa Ibom state in general, the state government has surreptitiously changed the entire concept of the project to short-change Oron people”, he said.