By Uboho Bassey

The Uyo Book Club on Monday, 20th November, 2023, honoured former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah, with a Colloquium coinciding with his 85th birthday.

The event left no one in doubt that Uyo Book Club are also masters at pomp and pageantry when the need arises. It was felt there in the lavishly decorated hall as hearts pulsated with sizzling emotions and lips parted in joyous renditions.

An eruption of spontaneous applause by the guests comprising of who is who in and outside the State heralded the grand entrance of the celebrant Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah, into the Nelson Mandela Hall, Watbridge Hotel and Suites, Uyo.

The accompanying train of close aides and well-wishers was long and colourful, his dear wife by his side, the saxophonist serenading with delightful, melodious tunes.

Obong Attah “The Eduek of Asutan Ekpe” beamed at the crowd, paused awhile at each table, shook hands and exchanged brief pleasantries. Here was a man admired, cherished, and honoured. A true son-of-the-soil, the revered Father of Modern Akwa Ibom State.

Former Secretary to the Government of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem chaired the occasion, while Prof. Linus Asuquo, Director-General, National Metallurgical Development Centre, Jos, delivered the keynote speech.

In his welcome address, the exemplary host and Founder, Uyo Book Club, Dr. Udeme Nana, spoke glowingly of Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah, and placed him in the league of Nigerian icons: Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello. His advocacy that November 20th be declared in Akwa Ibom State as Obong Victor Attah’s Day, as Martin Luther King Jnr in USA, met with wild approval and applause. Akwa Ibom people, he emphasized, must learn to honour their own. This “recognition and declaration” must be the low-hanging fruit that His Excellency, Governor Umo Eno must pluck for the people of the State and for posterity, his name etched in the annals of history and entombed for eternity.

In his well-received remarks, the Founder of Uyo Book Club, Dr. Udeme Nana reiterated the vision of his Initiative, he said ‘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’. According to the visionary, “Akwa Ibom must embrace the culture of celebrating her great men and women in their lifetime”.

Dr Nana further emphasized by saying ‘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.

The Media Scholar pointed out that “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.”

In his words, the Public Affairs expert recalled that ‘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 the onshore-offshore dichotomy’.

He advocated that “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” Dr Nana submitted that Obong Attah is in that league.

St Patrick’s College, Calabar Old Boys, Obong Attah’s Alma Mata were well represented, as they sang the school anthem along with the celebrant. Ahmadu Bello University’s old students were not left out in the reel of activities including students from Cornelia Cornelly College and Nigerian Christian Institute.

The spoken word by Neeta Rare set the ball rolling as she cruised through poetry and prose as automobiles on the smooth asphalt in the State, captivating the audience with her nuances, rhythm and flow, akin to the mesmerizing layout of the Ibom Golf Course.


What a gathering it was as speaker after speaker took turns to eulogize Obong Attah! Mr. Moses Ekpo, former Deputy Governor, Akwa Ibom State, Chief Nduese Essien, former House of Reps Caucus Leader and former Minister, also spoke, including

Dr. Etido Ibekwe, former Leader, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. Present also was former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Uyo, Prof. Trenchard Ibia, Anietie Usen- the Senior Special Adviser Media to Governor Umo Eno, the celebrated Village Boy, and Chief Asikpo, a long-standing friend of Obong Attah.

Discussants included Professor Akpan Hogan Ekpo, former Vice Chancellor of, University of Uyo and Akwa Ibom State University of Science and Technology, Professor Okon Ansa and Dr Ebebe Ukpong. They delved into the intricacies of the day’s topic: “The vision of Obong Attah on Science and Technology” dissecting the address of the keynote speaker.

Pa Moses Ekpo, himself also ageing gracefully at 88, supervised the cake cutting ceremony with the spelling of “Resource Control…an ingenuity that set everyone clapping after the fog of incredulity cleared.

Toast was raised by Mr. Ray Ekpu, Media guru, ace writer, an International award-winning Editor to Uyo Book Club. Senator Ekong Sampson – Lawyer, philanthropist, book lover, Patron, Uyo Book Club, raised a toast to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Attah’s long-time friend, Dr. Asikpo Essien Ibok toasted to robust health for his friend in the years ahead.

In his response, the celebrant, Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah expressed his delight at such a splendiferous event put together in his honour. He mentioned that though he was out of office as Governor, he was not out of ideas.

His projects undertaken years back have today, dovetailed, setting Akwa Ibom on a sure and rapid course of technological and societal growth.

Another highlight was the induction of Obong Attah into Watbridge Hotel Hall of Fame, by the General Manager of Watbridge Hotels, Uyo, Otunba Sunday Ajayi.

Uyo Book Club’s Colloquia offer an opportunity to delve deeper into the achievements, impact, and contributions of the individual being honoured. The platform is passionate about knowledge sharing, dialogue and discussion, inspiration and motivation, historical context, documentation and preservation.

In all, Akwa Ibom cannot forget in a hurry, the incredible impact of Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah’s leadership during his time as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. The Colloquium held on his 85th birthday was a great way to delve deeper, honour his achievements and reflect on his legacy, ensuring that his contributions is remembered and appreciated by present and future generations.


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