The President-General of Ekid People’s Union (EPU), Dr Samuel Udonsak, has assured the people of Ekid Nation that the body has initiated a number of moves to ensure that they are no longer deprived of their rights.
Udonsak’s comment was specifically in respect of the recently approved Oil and Gas Free Zone for Akwa Ibom State. He said the Union was aware of the exclusion of Eket and Esit Eket from the number of local governments on whose land the facility is marked to be located, and described this as an apparent error which has to be corrected.
The said exclusion has, for weeks, generated a lot of tension within the Ekid Nation, with some people aggitating for protests and other forms of reactions to draw government’s attention to the perceived injustice.
While calling for calm, the president-general, in a statement signed by EPU’s Publicity Secretary, Chief Usoro I. Usoro, Ph.D, said that the union would deploy all available legal and reasonable means to ensure that the rights of Ekid Nation are restored.
The Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone, said to be the largest in West Africa, reportedly sits on a physical land space measuring more than 50,000 hectares spread across six local government areas of Ikot Abasi, Eastern Obolo, Oruk Anam, Mkpat Enin, Onna and Ibeno.
Udonsak said the EPU found it curious how Eket and Esit Eket could have been skipped in the arrangement. He therefore pledged the Union’s resolve to unearth the actual reasons behind the apparent error.
“Because the facility is already on Ekid land, we believe Ekid nation cannot be rightly excluded”, he reportedly said.
Hence, as a preliminary move, the President-General has met with the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), Umana Okon Umana, who reportedly informed that the Liberty Free Zone was based on coordinates and not on local government bases.
EPU is said to be doing everything possible to obtain the relevant documents, including the survey plans, that will adequately explain the modalities for the said decision. The outcome of EPU’s findings, the statement said, will be deliberated in a few days at an expanded stakeholders meeting of the Union.
The Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone is expected to accommodate a multibillion dollar integrated 200,000 bpd refinery and petrochemical plant; a gas plant, etc, that could employ over 7,000 persons.
While commending both the federal and state governments for the siting of the Oil and Gas Free Zone in Akwa Ibom, Udonsak however urged that the right thing should be done to ensure that no one is cheated of his constitutional as well as God-given rights.