Declare 20th November As A Holiday

An advocacy by Dr Udeme Nana at the colloquium in honour of his excellency, arc. (obong) Victor Attah on his 85th birthday, monday, 20th November, 2023.

Your Excellencies, our Guest of Honour, Pastor Umo Eno, and the man of the moment, Arc (Obong ) Victor Attah.

His Eminence, OkuIbom Ibibio and President General, Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council here represented.

The Chairman of the occasion,

The Keynote Speaker,

I appreciate all our Guests for coming but Your Excellencies and our Chairman, permit me to recognize the presence of one of our icons and Trustees of Uyo Book Club, Mr Ray Ekpu, he came all the way from Lagos, Taiwo Obe, Chief Edwin Igbokwe, you are welcome.

I can go on and on but be assured that I sincerely appreciate your presence in this Hall for this Event.

Mr Chairman,

We are here to tell the story of a living hero, a visionary, a bold and courageous defender of the rights of his people. Why shouldn’t we celebrate him?

The Yorubas had their Obafemi Awolowo. They celebrate him. The Igbos had their Nnamdi Azikiwe. It’s none of our fault if he is not celebrated. Arewa had their Alhaji Ahmadu Bello; they don’t joke with his memory. Let me submit that His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah belongs in that pantheon and we must celebrate him in his lifetime. Uyo Book Club, a non-governmental community service initiative decided to start celebrating Obong Attah by marking his birthday on its Calendar with a lecture.  Let me use this occasion to re – echo my appreciation of the immediate past Governor of the State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for naming one of Governor Attah’s flagship projects – the Victor Attah International Airport – in his honour, in his lifetime.

I appreciate the trouble you have taken to join us today to celebrate our iconic statesman, a living legend and fountain of wisdom. This year’s celebration of His Excellency, Obong Attah started on Saturday with the Victor Bassey Attah Golf Tournament at the lush greens of Ibom Golf course which he built. When you see Ibom Golf course, you see the sublime mind of Arc.(Obong ) Attah , the mastermind behind it.

I am sure that this particular Event , is very dear to His Excellency. He is scholarly, an avid reader and an all round, cerebral, articulate, very meticulous analyst with an eye for the minutest details. This gathering, in honour of His Excellency, Obong Attah has become a permanent fixture on the Calendar of Uyo Book Club. When we started the Colloquium in honour of Obong Attah in 2020, our first Keynote Speaker was Chief Nduese Essien, former South South Caucus Leader in the House of Representatives and former Minister.  In 2021, our Keynote Speaker was Arc. Okon Obot, a former Commissioner for Lands and Housing and in 2022, an erudite Scholar, Prof. Ebebe Ukpong stood behind the podium to give the lecture. This year, we reached out to yet another accomplished Scholar and Administrator, Engr. Professor Linus Asuquo, himself a great Patrician like His Excellency. He is a junior Patrician to His Excellency, Obong Attah and very senior to me. Presently, he is the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, National Metallurgical Development Center, Jos. I thank him for coming all the way.

Uyo Book Club, in addition to focusing on its core mandate of trying to re-awaken and promote the culture of reading among our people, will continue to identify with our iconic role models. Akwa Ibom must embrace the culture of celebrating her great men and women in their lifetime. We should also strive to keep the memory of the positive contributions of our outstanding people alive. Today, I am excited to see many guests, students, teenagers in this Hall, young people who were not born when Obong Attah served as Governor. They can now talk about him, not as a mythical figure but as someone they have seen in flesh. Let me use this occasion to urge the State Government to declare 20th November every year as Obong Victor Attah Day in Akwa Ibom State. It should be a work-free day. The present Governor has the Executive authority to do so. When he goes ahead to do it, the Governor will also write his name in gold for posterity. There is a precedence in the United States of America where President Ronald Reagan of the United States declared a Martin Luther King Day to honour the life and legacy of the Civil Rights Advocate.  Martin Luther King was the Chief Spokesperson for non-violent activism in the United States of America. He protested against racial discrimination in Federal and State laws in the United States of America. He won that fight and the United States government honoured him subsequently with a Martin Luther King Jnr. Day.

Back in Nigeria, just like Martin Luther King Jnr, Obong Attah was the Chief Spokesperson, the Leader and Senior Advocate of the South-South zone who led the protest against discrimination in the economic rights of the crude oil producing States, particularly as it affected Akwa Ibom. Obong Attah experienced untold persecution, he experienced near-death situations during the many trips – turbulent weather during flights;  on a certain day a  plane he boarded lost a tire midair. On another occasion, his plane overshot the runway. On several other occasions, his plane couldn’t land and had to return! He suffered the inconveniences of bumpy rides on bad roads and highways. It wasn’t easy at all but thank goodness, he survived those hazards. He won the fight for the economic rights of Akwa Ibom State. Today, Akwa Ibom State enjoys the monthly payment of 13 per cent derivation revenue without the injustice of onshore – off – shore dichotomy. A declaration, therefore, to set aside just one day out of 365 days to honour the life and legacy of Obong Attah isn’t an outlandish idea. It is possible. Such an honour doesn’t cost the State a thing. It won’t come at any cost. Rather, it would elevate the State and its present leadership and engrave the name of the sitting Governor indelibly in history. I see such a move as a very low hanging fruit which His Excellency, Governor Umo Eno can pluck. The world took note and celebrates the likes of Martin Luther King, Lee Kuan Yew, Nelson Mandela and several others because of their achievements, the principles and values which they represented. Obong Attah is in that league.

On behalf of Uyo Book Club, the organizer of this Event and her offshoots ; Raffia City Book Club ( Ikot Ekpene ) , Eket Book Club, Abak Book Club, Ibiono Ibom Book Club and Oro Nation Book Club – indeed, all men and women who are here today, I wish His Excellency, Arc ( Obong ) Victor Attah , a very happy 85th Birthday.

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