Tuesday, June 5, 2018


By Assam Abia. 

The importance of history in human evolution can never be over emphasised. Those who forget the dim past with careless abandon are surely going to repeat the mistakes of the past. Mistakes repeated are more costlier and dangerous than the lose of a genuine war. When a people looses a lifeline struggle through the neglect of diligence and adherence to the rule of engagement, their station in life becomes more pathetically  dehumanizing than before. Nothing is more painful than being a captive in a war of justice and equity, especially when justice and equity are in your favour in the temple of judgement. 

The struggle for Mobil producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, to relocate its Corporate Headquarters from Lagos to its operational base in Eket started as far back as 1979. At that time, the company was doing two flights daily from Lagos to Eket and back, bringing its workers, contractors and every material from Lagos. By then, Onna, Esit-Eket and Ibeno Local Government Areas were under Eket jurisdiction as one Local Government. 

The Community felt that Mobil's unfriendly and doubtful romance was very suspicious, costly and wasteful. They went on protest which forced Mobil to relocate some of its offices to Eket and compelled them to acquire land to build its Housing Estate which some of its managing staff will stay. 

It was then that Mobil began to build Infrastructure facilities around the community when the negative effects of its operations were glaringly noticed in all ramifications of the people's life 

The people's sources of livelihood began to shrink. Drinking water from streams became poison. Mortality rate increased, the ecosystem started rejecting normal existence but Mobil's profit was growing, its workers were well paid and lived in affluence, drinking bottled water packaged from Lagos while the community felt neglected. 

By 1989, another protest demonstration took place. The demonstration was to call Mobil to relocate its headquarters to Eket, involve more indigenes in its activities and raise its staff from Akwa Ibom to higher levels of responsibilities in the company and provide more infrastructure in the community. 

The oil giant responded by building more roads, renovating schools, providing water and electricity and generally improving welfare in their communities. 

Ten years later, in 1998, there was a massive protest by the communities against a pronouncement by the then military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, late Navy Captain Adewusi who averred insultingly that Akwaibomites only study history and Religion in the Universities and therefore are not technically qualified to work in Mobil. 

The protest disrupted operations long enough for them to sit with the community in a round table for negotiation and leaving the Military administrator with a red eye from the slap of Mrs Ema Brown, the first woman journalist in Nigeria, an aborigine of Eket. 

During the negotiation, the joint study team of the community was led by the late Prince Udo Edukere, late Peter S. Ekpe, Mrs Dorothy Thompson, late Daniel Nwaenone,  Chief Nduese Essien, Ukut T. Ukut, Emmanuel Ibok, Victor Akpaneka, Hon Isaiah Abia, late Mbong Okon Mbong, Engr A. A. Etukumoh and late Obongawan Mary Attah. 

On the opposite side of the table, the Mobil team was led by Engr Ita Stephen and C. D. Sampson who was the Joint Venture Manager of the company. 

It was through the joint study team that the first Memorandum of Understanding, MOU with the community was signed with the above names as signatories. 

Among the provisions of the MOU was that "MPN operational headquarters are currently at QIT were most of her employees totaling over a thousand Five hundred are based". 

Another condition for the relocation exercise as enshrined in the MOU was that there should be improved and adequate infrastructure such as Airport, good network of Roads, Communication and security on ground. 

Akwa Ibom




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