Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has opened up, for the first time, on the fierce battle the then agitators of resource control for the Niger Delta, fought with the then president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Speaking while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at a book presentation/launch titled ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ and 80 birthday celebration of a former governor of Akwa-Ibom, Obong Victor Attah, Udoma revealed that they were summoned to Aso Rock before the security chiefs and threatened with prosecution if they did not back down on their demands.
The minister commended the courage of the former governor in the struggle, stressing that they had the courage to be with him in the struggle because of assurance that “a fearless governor watched our backs”.
His words: “Throughout his eight years as governor, I was the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South.
“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.
“We, the federal Legislators made sure that in our time, there 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.
“The battle to remove the On-shore Off-shore dichotomy was indeed a fierce one.
“At one point, the three of us, myself, Obong Attah and Sen. 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,” he recalled.
While praising the character of the celebrant, Udoma said, “I have not had the opportunity to read Obong 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 of reading Obong Attah and there is much I can say 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,” he said.
While launching the book, Udoma said, “This is a very important book, important publication that is bound to be of interest to people who believe in Nigeria and who want to understand the country and various struggles necessary to build a country. I will buy 20 copies of the book.”