How Effiong Bob saved today’s Akwa Ibom
It is on record that the struggle for the abrogation of Onshore/Offshore Dichotomy effectively began when the then government of the state under the leadership of Obong Victor Attah popularized the concept of resource control predicated on a just and fair allocation and management of the national wealth.
The Attah Government backed by the members of the Fourth National Assembly from Akwa Ibom State, led by Senator Udo Udoma, Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien and Senator James Akpan Udoedehe, made a strong case for the abrogation of the dichotomy.
The Federal Government instead of addressing the issue rejected all wise counsel and took the matter to the Supreme Court.
It went to the apex court asking it to determine the seaward boundary of a littoral state for the purpose of calculating the amount of revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources derived from that state pursuant to Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution. The judgment of the Supreme Court created so much tension in the polity that the Federal Government made a volte face by seeking a political and legislative solution to the crises it had already created by going to court.
It would be recalled that during this time, Barrister Effiong Bob was the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. He was faced with the task of providing the state government with the legal advice and direction to wage the legal battle at the Supreme Court.
Together with Obong Ekong Sampson, the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria from Akwa Ibom, the state’s, legal team put up a formidable legal counter force against the Federal Government team in the now famous case of Attorney General of the Federation Vs Attorney General of Abia State and 35 others.
The persuasive arguments of the state legal team and their counterparts from other littoral states based on facts and the courageous stance of the Akwa Ibom members in the National Assembly drew sympathy from the public and even made the Federal government to proffer political and legislative solution to the issue.
The two Houses of the National Assembly finally settled the issue of the abrogation of onshore/offshore oil dichotomy with the speedy consideration and passage of the Bill to abrogate the dichotomy. It is on record that members of the fifth senate from Akwa Ibom were particularly helpful in making wide contacts in and outside the National Assembly to court the support of the Nigerians for the Bill.
Given his background as the Commissioner of Justice during the legal battle over the issue at the Supreme Court, the election of Barrister Bob in to the Fifth Senate proved to be an added advantage to the state in its determination to end the dichotomy issue. So, serious and indeed emotional was the issue of the dichotomy to the government and people of the state that analysts believed his electoral victory over a former senator and a former governor was, to a large extent, an expression of his acceptability and professional competence to do an effective job of helping to bring the issue of the dichotomy to an end through the legislative process.
Sen. Bob joined compatriots like Senator Udo Udoma, Sen. Itak Ekarika, Hon. Ita Enang and other members of the House of Representatives from Akwa Ibom state, to work assiduously for the speedy consideration and passage of the Bill, which was eventually signed into law by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday, 16th February, 2004.
The signing of the Bill to abrogate the dichotomy remains a befitting testimony to the sheer political sagacity of Senator Bob and his colleagues from Akwa Ibom State who literally risked their political careers to save the state from the trauma of near zero allocation from revenue derived from the state’s offshore oil resources.
Effiong Bob is coming!