REMARKS BY THE FOUNDER AND CONVENER OF THE UYO BOOK CLUB, DR UDEME NANA, MEDIA SCHOLAR AND FORMER MEDIA ADVISER TO GOVERNORS AT THE COLLOQUIUM TO CELEBRATE THE 82ND BIRTHDAY OF HIS EXCELLENCY, ARC. (OBONG) VICTOR ATTAH, GOVERNOR OF AKWA IBOM STATE (1999-2007) ON FRIDAY 20TH NOVEMBER 2020 AT WATTSBRIDGE HOTEL, UYO.
I am delighted to welcome all our special Guests, members of the Uyo Book Club and visitors to the club to this unique gathering. Uyo Book Club is one of the first groups to organize a colloquium in Akwa Ibom State. We started with William Shakespeare, the Late Professor John Pepper Clark, the Late Kenulo Saro Wiwa. All those ones are dead but today, we are meeting to honour a living legend, a statesman, a role model, an accomplished professional, leader and father of modern Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Arc (Obong) Victor Attah who served as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 1999 to 2007.
The Uyo Book club was set up 5 years ago as an intellectual hub and we used to meet in my house every Saturday to read, review books and discuss public affairs. It was formed to stimulate a reading culture and promote reading among our youths, in Akwa Ibom and Nigeria. I thank the promoters and management of this alluring hotel for giving us their facilities free of charge for our meetings and Events.
It is my believe that the rise and consolidation of Uyo Book Club will qualify as one of the most genuine consciousness transforming revolutions of this era and you, seated here are a part of this History. When the seeds being sowed spreads, germinates and flowers; the sensibilities of the mass of our people refined, our efforts would become the construct around which transformative efforts would be organized.
Obong Attah is a Book. He was born and had his childhood upbringing here in Uyo. He studied at Zaria, and the United States of America at an Ivy League University. He lived and worked at Kaduna and Lagos and returned to Akwa Ibom at 62 years of age to become the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The life of Obong Attah, his leadership style, his contributions, achievements are indeed books to be read and reading them will refine the sensibilities of our people in the assessment of prospective leaders in Akwa Ibom and in Nigeria in future.
Our focus today is in line with the ideals of philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Heideger, Obafemi Awolowo, Julius Nyerere and other great leaders who articulated the need for an enlightened leadership in societies.
Going forward Akwa Ibom needs a leader in this mould of Obong Attah: mature, seasoned, cerebral, widely exposed, well experienced, hardworking, visionary, credible. A prospect possessing national and international network whose voice would be heard and respected. A man with ideas, who is also receptive to good ideas… someone who can take us away from our dependence on oil into a society driven by technology. Someone who is safety conscious to safeguard the safety of Akwa Ibom people.
These were some of the achievements of Obong Attah as Governor:
He forced the introduction of GSM into the state which made Akwa Ibom State one of the first four (4) states to enjoy the service at inception by investing in Econet wireless communication.
Built the Independent Power Plant at Ikot Abasi.
Established 9 centres of Excellence in ICT at CCC, (Uyo) Methodist Boys High School (Oron), Immaculate Conception Secondary School (Itak, Ikono), Itam Secondary School (Itu), Government Secondary School, Ikwen (Obot Akara) Lutheran High School, Obot Idim (Ibesikpo/Asutan), Holy Family College Oku (Abak).
He set up the Victor Attah Digital opportunities centre and it was envisaged as the forerunner of a digital hub in the Niger Delta region.
He took steps to build a Science and Information Technology Park in Uyo. His vision was to replicate Silicon Valley in Akwa Ibom State. He saw that the future of the global economy would be Technology and not oil.
The Ibom Airport, aptly, named in his honour. He envisioned it with a Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) facilities.
Built and remodeled Ibom Plaza, Uyo Village road, Atiku Abubakar, 4 lanes, dualized Ikot Ekpene road, rebuilt and dualized Abak road, Oron road to the Airport, Oron road through Nwaniba to le Meridien and Golf resort.
~Built le Meridien Resort.
~Built the 18 hole Golf Course.
~The Timber market at Ifa Ikot Okpon.
~The Timber market at Itam.
~Built the Itam market.
~Constructed Nnung Udoe-Ibesikpo-Ikot Okwot Road.
~Nsit Atai-Okobo road.
~Mbiabong, Odoro Ikpe – Itu Mbonuso Road.
~Ekeya-Okopedi-Urue Ita road with a spur to Utum Ukuku, Oyubia, Okobo.
~Ibeno – Edor, Ekpene Obo road.
~Obot Akara – Nto Edino road.
~Set up small scale industries credits scheme for traders, fishermen, farmers, artisans like welders.
~Reactivated the Champion Breweries.
~Built the Nigeria stock exchange House at the Banking layout now used by Akwa Ibom Internal Revenue Service.
~Built the 7 storey Apico House along Abak road.
~Created the Banking layout.
~Built the Ibibio Museum of Unity at Udo Udoma Avenue.
~Built the Cenotaph at Udo Udoma Avenue.
~Built the ultra modern Akwa Ibom State Liaison office at the Central Business District – Abuja.
~Built a new Governor’s lodge in Abuja.
Remodeled the state secretariat complex (Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat).
~Set up the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Co-ordinating Committee to handle electricity, water supply works, rural roads, renovation of public schools in all Wards in the 31 local government areas of the state and ensured that millionaires emerged from each ward in the state through those jobs.
~He spearheaded the agitation for payment of 13 percent derivation to the state without on-shore off shore dichotomy. This brought more money to the coffers of the state.
~He championed the cause of True Federalism in Nigeria.
~Implemented a policy of tuition free primary to junior secondary schools in the state.
~His government started the policy of payment of examination fees to final year students in senior secondary schools in the state.
~His government constructed 7 brand new residential secondary schools at Nnung Ukim (Ikono), Aka Offot (Uyo), Okop Ndua Erong (Ibesikpo/Asutan), Ekparakwa (Oruk Anam) Ikot Akpaden (Mkpat Enin) Atabrikang (Ibeno) and Issiet Ekim (Uruan).
~His government envisioned an Akwa Ibom University of Technology and sponsored 150 first class graduates for post graduate studies abroad to encourage them to return to work in the university as lecturers.
~He built 1,850 housing units in the 31 local government areas with 50 houses per local government area.
~His government facilitated the building of the Shelter Afrique Housing Estate, Osong Ama, Eniong offot and Akwa Ima Estates all in Uyo.
~His government built brand new General Hospitals at Amamong (Okobo), Ikpe Ikot Nkon (Ini) and Ukpom (Abak).
~He set up the Ethical, Attitudinal, Re-orientation Commission (EARCOM) to motivate our people to embrace positive values.
~He built the capacity of all category of government workers through regular training and sponsorship to workshops within and outside the country.
~Obong Attah initiated the Ibom Deep Seaport at Ibaka.
~His government built all the ultra modern motor-parks in various locations in Uyo, the state capital.
~He opened up all the major ring roads to secure right of way and stop encroachment on the layouts.
~Obong Attah promoted ethnic harmony and Akwa Ibom State emerged as an oasis of peace in the Niger-Delta region. He was a pace-setter, a go getter, highly cerebral but humble, listening, large-hearted. No doubt it is fitting to call him “The father of Modern Akwa Ibom State”.
I appreciate all our special Guests and pray that the Almighty God would guide our steps.
Thank you and God bless.