A Calabar-based legal practitioner and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, Chief Utum Eteng, in this interview with ANTHONY UBONG, speaks on militancy in the Niger Delta region, among other issues. Excerpts:
HOW do you feel about the recent nomination of former Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba as Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)?
I think it is an appointment well deserved. By all standards, the appointment is well deserved. Ndoma-Egba like you know is an accomplished person in Cross River and Nigeria in general. He has been the Leader of the Senate; he has been the leader of South South caucus, and has interacted with the people of the South-South very well. He knows their problems at that level of his interaction with members of the Senate and caucus of the South South, so he deserves the appointment very well. There is no better person than Ndoma-Egba to take that appointment for now.
There have been violent agitations by various groups in the South-East and the South-South, especially with the bombing of oil installations by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA). Do you think their actions are justifiable?
It is not justifiable in the least. This is because the people who call themselves Avengers are doing this to amass wealth for their private use. How has their agitation affected you; how has it affected Ibeno and other oil-producing areas? They are doing this for them to make money for themselves. Who are they fighting for? It is like we think that without oil, Nigeria cannot survive. We are getting to a stage whereby Nigeria can progress without oil. We should ask ourselves pertinent questions-are they fighting for us, or fighting for themselves?
Recently, Cross River State experienced an upsurge in crime what do you think about this?
I will emphatically say that Governor Ben Ayade, should ask himself so many questions considering what is happening. If he was ready for this position, he would have clearly outlined his plan as on how to give the people the comfort of life. He should apply the leadership style, ex-Governor Donald Duke on how he was able to turn Calabar and Cross River State around. He should stop all this hypothesis and theories that are not working for him. You know as a fact that when Duke was governor, Cross River was a safe haven. People relocated from Port Harcourt to Calabar to enjoy the comfort of the place-it is no longer so. Tell me which investor would come to Cross River State without having clearance from his embassy on his mission in this place? I think he should ask himself those questions and tell Cross Riverians if he is truly ready to govern.