ne man that has imprinted his footprints on the sands of time is His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa-Ibom State. This quintessential leader, with a passionate heart for his people and a lion’s heart to press for what he wants no matter whose ox is gored, is a model. His unparalleled architectural skills and strategies which practically evolved a well marshalled architectural design for Akwa-Ibom State, ring a bell in every home.
Obong Attah fought and won several battles for Akwa-Ibom State, amongst which was the fight for resource control – the struggle for on/offshore dichotomy, with the former President of Nigeria, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo. The father of modern Akwa-Ibom as he is fondly called, an octogenarian, took the battle to the gate and won.
A reflection on history on the life and times of the First President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere leaves one in bewilderment whether Obong Attah was groomed in the same school of thought as Nyerere. Nyerere has a legacy that continues to inspire millions of people in Tanzania, and elsewhere, especially in other parts of Africa. A brilliant intellectual, termed the father of the Nation by Tanzanians and regarded as one of the most respected statesmen.
Julius Nyerere was a standard-bearer for African liberation and a tireless champion of equitable distribution of wealth. A charismatic type symbolizing the ideals and expectations of the people, a politician who kept his integrity and vision in a harsh and changing world, a leader with unusual quality and a national spirit, epitomizes the best among the founding fathers of independence of African States. This is obviously the summary of the assessment of Obong Attah’s qualities and ebullience.
Describing this notable son of Akwa-Ibom, His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel said during his 80th birthday speech that the foundation for what has become one of Nigeria’s fastest-growing States in resources, economy, infrastructures, etc. was laid by this great son of Ibibio extraction, the fourth largest tribe in Nigeria. Some of his remarkable achievements noted included, but not limited to, Akwa-Ibom State University, Ibom Independent Power Plant, Le Meridian, and Golf Resort, Victor Attah International Airport. Obong Attah saw the future of Akwa-Ibom from yesterday and dreamt of an “Eldorado” when he said, “I cradle a vision of an Akwa-Ibom which becomes an investor’s choice, a paradise for commerce and the tourists desired destinations”.
As a revolutionary leader, he is not afraid to be on collision course with any system provided he achieves his utmost desire for his people. Little wonder when he pioneered the political zoning formula in Akwa-Ibom and picked his successor from Annang ethnic nationality of Akwa-Ibom, a further step for harmonious co-existence, cohesion, and unification and to cement socio-political relationships among the ethnic nationalities. This speaks volumes for “a man who entered politics due to his burning desire to tackle perceived injustices in the society and to improve the living conditions of his people”.
The slogan, “Go To Uyo and Die”, popular even among non-indigenes of Akwa-Ibom State simply depicting the serenity, ambience, aesthetics, attractiveness, and above all, the prevalent peace that would overwhelm and subsume a tourist and possibly get him completely absorbed in the euphoria of enjoyment, because it is said that enjoyment anticipated is twice enjoyment fulfilled, takes its roots from Obong Victor Attah’s administration, making the state to stand tall amongst equals.
The Eduek Ibibio does not see politics as a do or die affair but rather people should exude tolerance and the spirit of sportsmanship, which is why thuggery, violence, hooliganism, killing, maiming, etc. were quite alien to his administration.
Political analysts believe that the legacy of his administration was a foundation established and cemented that will remain indelible many years ahead.