Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma has, for the first time, revealed some of what transpired between the then agitators of resource control in the Niger Delta for which he was a part of and championed by the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah.
Senator Udoma stated at the height of the agitation, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had summoned him, the former governor and another Senator, Ibok Essien to the presidential villa in the presence of security chiefs and threatened to prosecute them if they did not backdown on their demands.
The Minister, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, said this after he had presented the President’s address at the book presentation/launch titled “It Is Well With My Soul” as part of activities marking Obong Victor Attah’s 80th birthday celebration, in Abuja, on Tuesday.
Senator Udoma further gave credence to the former governor’s courage in the struggle, saying that they had the courage to be with him in the struggle since they were assured that “a fearless governor watched our backs”.
He said: “Throughout his 8 years as governor, I was the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South and throughout the period, I also served as the leader of the Akwa Ibom National Legislators Forum having been unanimously elected into that position by my colleagues, some of who are here and we, the federal Legislators made sure that in our time, the was no Abuja front working against the home front.
“Under Obong Victor Attah’s leadership, we were a strong united team and having worked with him, I can say something about his character. Obong Victor Attah is someone you can go into battle with, he is fearless and once he gives you his word, he does not turn back no matter how fierce the battle and the battle to remove the On-shore Off-shore dichotomy was indeed a fierce one.
“At one point, the three of us, myself, Obong Victor Attah and Senator Ibok Essien were summoned to Abuja and made to appear before the President, Minister of Defence, all the service chiefs and we were threatened with prosecution for inciting our people against the President and the federal government but under his leadership, we refused to allow ourselves to be cowed or intimidated. we believed in our course and we did not stop the fight until we succeeded and many of our people who helped us are here like the (then) Senate President, Ken Nnamani and many others.”
While praising the character of the celebrant, he said: “I have not had the opportunity to read Obong Victor Attah’s book, it is well with my soul, but as K.O Mbadiwe of blessed memory said when launching one of my father’s books, he said, I have not read the book, but I have read he man. So, I admit that I have not read the book, but I have had the opportunity and the privilege I must say, of reading Obong Victor Attah and there is much I can day about him but that will be for another occasion.
“As the senator who led the fight from Abuja, It was good for those of us who were in Abuja, many of whom stock our political career to ensure the passage of the bill abrogating the On-shore Off-shore dichotomy into law, it was good for us to know that we had a fearless governor back home in Uyo who was watching our backs.”