Obong Aniefiok Uwah: Will Akwa Ibom immortalize her finest?

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By Osondu Ahirika

The renaming of the ongoing Ring Road Three that stretches from Udo Udoma Avenue junction by Aka Road through Atan Offot community to Idoro Road or the Governor’s Office Annex to honour the blessed memory of Late Obong Aniefiok Uwah would be the best way the Akwa Ibom State Government can do justice to the passage of this colossus .

I want to begin this Ode to Late Obong Uwah with this strong advocacy because, growing up in Uyo, his name etched recurrently in our hearts and ears, as he was the paragon, or call it benchmark of public administration and selfless service in political office years ago.

You ask why I dare make such a call? Then hear this and be the judge. Do you know that, as then Chairman of Uyo Local Government Area, Obong Uwah was the one that received the first Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State, then Col. Tunde Ogbeha to begin the evolutionary march to its still ongoing progressional greatness? Do you also know that it was Obong Uwah that designed the first official plate number for vehicles used by government officials in the new state. It was Obong Uwah who handed over his office as the Chairman to the first military administrator of Akwa Ibom State for the smooth take off of the State.

Of course! It was Obong Aniefiok Uwah who takes credit for making Uyo a metropolitan city. He it was, that constructed the Governor’s Office Annex. Unknown to many, that edifice was intended by the Obong Uwah Adminstration to serve as the Uyo Local Government Area Secretariat. He conceded it to the State to serve as the Military Governor’s Office.

The Hill Top Mansion which is the current abode of the Governor was initially constructed as the Uyo Paramount Rulers Palace by Obong Uwah, again, he handed it over to serve as Government House. It was later renovated by His Excellency, Obong Akpan Isemin before, Distinguished Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio pulled it down and replaced the old edifice with the current structures that serve as the residence of the State Chief Executive.

Are you in awe? Wait for this, Obong Uwah’s vision was broad and bright as daylight. He in addition to the above, Initiated the construction of many other projects that define Uyo, including, the Uyo Township Stadium, the Mechanic village and the the Uyo Abattoir.

Then, consider the fact that as a Local Government Chairman, he constructed and tarred the popular Etuk Street to boost trade and commerce and service the defunct Etuk market and boost the local economy, and also tarred Nsasak Street.

That vision of empowering the masses also informed his move to construct Odot Market, now in Nsit Atai Local Government Area and the Nung Udoe market now in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Goverment Area. Back then, these were parts of Uyo.

It may also interest you to know that, Obong Aniefiok Uwah was the first Council Chairman to provide street lightings in the then Cross River State. He equally constructed hundreds of rural roads with culverts to not only open, but also, link up communities.

To honour the cultural heritage of the Uyo people and their forebears, he constructed the statue of the man blowing a gong at Ibom Plaza and the Statue of Chief Nyong Essien at Oron Road by Nwaniba Road.

Folks’, tell me what Uyo, or even Akwa Ibom would have been like, but for these pacesetting and historical landmarks of its antiquity?

Those are the legacies of Obong Aniefiok Uwah, who also facilitated the Construction of Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat by interventions in negotiating and donating land in Atan Offot to the Akwa Ibom State Government and ensuring a conducive environment for it’s construction, which define Uyo in particular and Akwa Ibom State at large.

Appointed to serve as Chairman of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, he paraded a no less stellar accomplishments. Here following is a referent list:
– Renovation of the Council Hall.
– Construction of Ette market.
– Construction of Health Center, Okoroette.
– Construction of Main Motor Park, Ikot Abasi LGA.
– Facilitation of the foundation laying for ALSCON by President Ibrahim Babangida.

Shy of making this essay too long let me abridge it. Obong Uwah had a very sterling and providential record of Public service. He was Chief Protocol Officer, Government House, Cross River State between 1975-1983 and served as Principal Secretary to the Military Administrator of Cross River State from 1983 – 1985.

He served as Sole Administrator, Uyo Local Government Area between 1986-1987 and was appointed Chairman of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area and held office from 1990 to 1991.

Between 1991-1992, he served as Director General, Akwa Ibom State Civil Service and joining politics, he was elected State Chairman, United Nigeria Congress Party, UNCP, an office he held from 1997-1998.

In 1999, he bounced back to Public service and was appointed, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Civil Service Commission, serving in that office till 2001, proceeding therefrom, to become a Federal Commissioner, Federal Civil Service Commission representing Akwa Ibom and Cross River State from 2001 to 2008.

Without fear of contradiction, I make bold to say, it will take another 30 years or more for hundreds of Akwa Ibom people, who he facilitated their employment into the State and Federal Civil Service to complete their tenures and so his footprints remaineth in our civil service structures.

Obong Aniefiok Uwah will be remembered for two services to his State and Country – his battle for transformation, socio-economic empowerment and development of his people and his trailblazing leadership throughout his public service.

He was a fighter, rousing the love of his people and his capacity to make a difference always introduced him to higher responsibilities. His astuteness made him realize the vast potentialities of Political power for the common good when his contemporaries seemed blind and visionless.

Obong Aniefiok Uwah was born on May 5, 1944 and after life’s fitful fever, he slept on July 29, 2019. Nature, fate and his courage of conviction combined to make him one of the greatest Akwa Ibom Son’s that lived. As he will be committed to mother earth on Saturday, 14th September 2019, will the Akwa Ibom State Government immortalize her eminent son?

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