BY BERNARD TOLANI DADA, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State government has urged the host communities of Ibom Deep Seaport to cooperate with government for the project to take off without any hindrance.
Addressing leaders of the host communities during the stakeholders’ engagement at the weekend in Oron, chairman technical committee for Ibom Deep Sea Port, Barr Mfon Usoro said the host communities should weigh the option of the benefits of the project against opposing stance of some persons and other antagonistic tendencies that may discourage foreign investors on the project.
Usoro briefed the stakeholders on detailed components of the seaport design to include 10 terminals, marine service centre, industrial city and other facilities that will attract neighbouring countries such as Gabon, Central African Republic (CAR), Equatorial Guinea as well as other coastal countries in West African region.
She explained that Ibom Deep Sea Port was a federal government project, as all the processes emanating from the technical committee were approved by the federal government because port operations is captured under exclusive list of the federal government.
“Everything we do under this project is approved by the federal government as the project spans through 14,800 square meters of the dry land on Oron sea shore away from the Atlantic Ocean,” she said.
The Federal Executive Council gave approval on 16, December 2020.
“The procurement process of Ibom Deep Sea Port has been adjudged to be the best and adopted by federal government,” he said.
The secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem lamented the animosity within the host communities as a result of the name and location of the project adding that such matters should not arise at the early stage of the project.
Ekuwem explained that the name change from “Ibaka Deep Sea Port” to ” Ibom Deep Sea Port ” was done in good faith to reflect rebranding of state owned projects and institutions as obtained in other state government facilities in the state.
He listed such projects and institutions such as “Ibom Air”, “Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osura”, “Akwa Ibom State University -AKSU” , ” Ibom Hotels And Golf Resort” saying that Governor Udom Emmanuel had to rebrand government institutions and projects. Ekuwem maintained that the intention was not to shortchange the host communities as widely speculated on social media but to give a status brand to government facilities.
Ekuwem emphasised that he cannot be part of shortchanging his people being a bona fide son of Oron and the site of the Deep Sea Port in particular and encouraged youths of the host communities to prepare for opportunities that would be provided by the sea port through businesses and employment.
“Why the name of Ibaka Deep Sea Port was changed to Ibom Deep Sea Port was to build a brand name for state owned institutions. The social media should desist from blackmail and cross check facts to have balanced information for the public instead of falsehood and propaganda about the name and location of Ibom Deep Sea Port,” he said.