In Nigeria, some state governors have been accused of neglecting their states and choosing to spend the majority of their time visiting Abuja, the federal capital, for what many perceive as irrelevant reasons. But this is not the case for every governor.

According to news reports, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno recently visited President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja. His mission was not only to wish him a Happy New Year but also to present requests on behalf of his state. Two of his requests bordered around the actualisation of the Ibom Deep Sea Port and exportation of oil palm.

Speaking after the visit, Eno told reporters that he got a positive response from the president. “We’ve talked and requested him to support us with our Ibom Deep Sea Port, and agricultural programme on the oil palm,” Eno told reporters after he met Tinubu.

“Akwa Ibom is an oil palm zone. And we have started the process of revamping the moribund industry that has laid there for 28 years. It is being revamped right now. We need the support of the federal government to be able to have a full value chain and then bring people to work and be able to help Nigeria. We can even get to exporting palm oil, because right now, we’re still importing a lot of it. So that’s why I came and it was a good visit.”

Anyone familiar with Akwa Ibom would know the requests would be sine qua non to the economic growth of the state and consequently the country. Thankfully, the progressive Tinubu administration is poised to support the laudable ventures.

Ibom Deep Sea Port which is sited in Mbo and Ibeno local government areas in Akwa Ibom is designated as Free Trade Zone. To be built on 2,565 hectares of land, the port is also designed to have a 20km channel approval with 450m design to provide for two-way vessel traffic. It also has a deep wharf with 18m in the channel, making it safe for big ships to berth there. Hence, investing in constructing the port would increase trade and boost the economy of the state, the surrounding regions and the country. It should be noted that the Ibom Deep Sea project has been on the burner of the state government for about 25 years – an issue that has passed through three different administrations till date.

After some back and forth between Akwa Ibom and the federal government, the construction of the Ibom Deep Sea Port was slated to begin in 2019 during the administration of Udom Emmanuel after the Federal Executive Council approved the project in 2018. The project was awarded to a consortium of Bolloré Ports and PowerChina International Group in November 2018 with a mandate to operate the port for 50 years. And in December 2020, the federal government approved $2bn for the construction of the first phase of the port. The total cost of the port was put at $4.5bn. However, by 2022, work had stalled on the port as the major contractors had pulled out. It is nice that after the reign of Victor Attah, Godswill Akpabio and Udom Emmanuel as governors, there seems to be hope of Ibom Deep Sea Port becoming a reality.

But why the need for another port aside Lagos, Eno was asked. He responded: “Again, Lagos is there. But you also know Lagos is congested. Of course, that is no story. So you need a deep seaport that will take care of the south-east, south-south, if you like, the Niger Delta region.

” Surely, a deep sea port in Akwa Ibom would not only relieve stress from the Apapa and recently constructed Lekki ports it would as well serve the eastern and southern parts of the country efficiently.

As per the state’s incursion into oil palm, Governor Eno lamented that the state’s oil palm plantation drive had been moribound for the past 28 years. This sad situation is what Eno plans to address by reviving the industry. It is sad that Akwa Ibom ever neglected the oil palm cultivation given the fact that palm oil is now courted in many industries. In the international market, palm oil is gold. It is no longer that oil for cooking Ogbono soup alone.

Eno did this while still challenging a suit against his governorship. But now that the Supreme Court has affirmed him as governor, Akwa Ibom can look forward to the growth and development pedal of the state being pressed down at full throttle.

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