…Gov Udom Assures of Prompt Intervention
By Joseph Atainyang
Major city centres in Akwa Ibom State were on Monday shut down by angry youths of Oro Nation who protested their insecurity owing to the incessant cases of disruption by sea pirates in the water ways.
They also protested the exploitative tendencies of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) which charged them exorbitant tariffs for non supply of electricity.
The youths were differently led by both the President, Oron Union Youth Wing, Comrade Chris Ante and the President, Essu Nlap Oro, Ulap Great Edemumoh.
Chris Ante and his group paraded the Oron Town, in a peaceful protest which took them to the PHED branch office along Oron Road, Oron where they told staffers of the company to stop work as residents of the area were tired of their service and were no longer interested in it.
Chris Ante condemned the maltreatment meted on the Oro people by the company. He stated that leaders of the nation have long engaged in series of dialogues with the company’s authorities to resolve the issue but all to no avail.
He explained that after trying all modalities without their positive responses, the youths were determined to bring the company’s fraudulent operations to an end by stopping them from working.
“We’ve had several round table discussions with the management of PHED. They asked us to give them three months so they can fix the light. But we have regretted that dialogue because everything has become worst.
“They kept exploiting us with estimated billing. We are tired of their extortion. We are ready to stay in darkness and we will look for alternative ways of generating electricity for ourselves.
“The management of PHED should relocate their staff from Oron. We no more want their business to operate here. We are saying good bye to NEPA and PHED and there is no going back”, he said.
However, the Branch Manager of the company, Mr Stephen Mbat was reportedly absent from office as workers were seen packing their bags and working tools to leave for their respective homes.
Similarly, Ante who led the youths round the major streets in Oron, also visiting the Oron Marine Police Headquarters, addressed the Force on the decision of Oro youths to take up their responsibility, since the police were no longer professionally fit to do so.
Ante informed the Marine Police of an intelligence that they were compromising with the militants to defraud Seamen workers and killing them in the waterways.
He wondered why the police were unable to sufficiently discharge their duties, asking whether it is as a result of insufficient gunboats or personnel.
“We are here to find out why the Nigeria police cannot combat militancy when you have gunboats and trained personnel who should fight the militants to rescue our people from their hands.
Chris Ante called on President Muhammadu Bubari, the Inspector General of Police as well as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel to urgently step into the matter.
He also called on the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South West Senatorial District, Senator Akon Eyakenyi; the Member, Oron Federal Constituency, Rt Hon Nse Ekpenyong, as well as all four House of Assembly members, led by the deputy Speaker, Rt Hon (Chief) Felicia Bassey, Rt. Hon Effiong Bassey, Rt Hon Asukwo Archibong and Mr Asukwo Frank to reach an urgent understanding towards mitigating the cruel development.
In his response, A S P Samuel Obadi who stood in for the Area Commander, faulted the allegation of compromise with the militants as untrue.
He said, “Allegations of compromise with the militants are not true. They are not more powerful than us. We need more gunboats to combat them. We shall nib them in the bud.”
Meanwhile, the International President of Essu Nlap Oro who led the Uyo protest to the Akwa Ibom State Government House, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo, lamented that Oro Inland Waterways were no longer safe for business.
Complaining that militants who were ruthlessly disrupting the activities of Seamen have succeeded in killing many of them, thereby dominating the waterways, Great Edemumoh called for government intervention.
In his response, the Akwa Ibom state Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel who addressed the protesters through his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, assured them that government would immediately swing into action to ensure that the situation is put under control.
According to Mr Ekpo, “The Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel is aware of the ugly situation facing the Seamen Workers in Oro and in less than no time, the situation would be adequately addressed”.