By Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
Obong Victor Attah was elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 1999 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was re-elected 2003. He was elected Chairman of the Forum of the 36 Governors of Nigeria in 2003.
In 2001, ex-Governor Attah travelled to the United States with 21 people in search of foreign investors. The visit and others produced tangible results. He promised to improve telecommunication, electrical power supply, and air transport infrastructure, and to replicate Silicon Valley in Uyo.
He planned to, and built an airport in Uyo before he left office in 2007. He laid the foundation for the establishment of the Akwa Ibom State University of Technology.
Obong Attah ran for the 2007 presidential nomination of the PDP in 2007, but later withdrew.
Obong Victor Attah is arguably the Father of new Akwa Ibom State, which comprises three major ethnic nationalities – Ibibio, Annang and Oron.
Separately, each ethnic group had produced top shots that served the state and nation distinguishably in different capacities, including military, civilian governors, ministers and senators.
However, Obong Attah appears to be the most respected political leader in the state and this is not unrelated with his copious exceptional contributions to the development of the state and involvement in both local and national affairs.
Besides his fight for resource control in the Niger Delta, which won him names like ‘Apostle of Resource Control’ and ‘Advocate of Resource Control,’ what really commended him to the people was that his administration nurtured the unity existing today among the different ethnic blocs in the state.
For that reason, Obong Attah is perceived by many as a detribalized, generous, accommodating, principled and visionary leader, who laid the solid foundation for the physical and economic development of the state.
The Ibom International Airport, Le Meridien Hotel and Golf Course were among projects put in place by his administration.
Available record showed he played very significant role in the creation of Akwa Ibom State, about 27 years ago, which is traceable to his genial relationship with the then military president, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd). The singular act won him the name, ‘Father of new Akwa Ibom.’
Highly trusted as far as Akwa Ibom State is concerned, the people do not only respect Attah for his past achievements, they have strong belief and trust in his capability and competence to handle and defend their interests whenever the need arises at any level of governance.
His competence and intellectual capabilities informed the people’s decision not only to choose him as one of the delegates to the recently concluded National Conference, but as the leader of that delegation.
The call by the former Nigeria Governor’s Forum to lead them to the same conference, further attests to the fact that his admirable leadership qualities go beyond the state.
He was also selected as the Chairman of the Committee on Devolution of Powers simply because of the recognition that he has the ‘I can do attitude’ and admirable leadership principles.
His laudable achievements informed the grand reception organised by the Akwa Ibom people, recently, where he (Attah) was formally proclaimed the Leader of Akwa Ibom people at the Asan Ibibio ground.
The recent conferment of the traditional title of Mkpisong Ibibio on Obong Attah by the traditional institutions in 21 of the 31 local government areas of the state also speaks volume of the acknowledgement of Obong Attah as an iconic personality and the most powerful living political leader in the state.
In November 2007, Victor Attah challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest him if the Commission had anything against him.
In September 2009, the then Justice Minister and Attorney General, Michael Aondoakaa, said he would not release any Nigerian in response to a warrant of arrest issued by the London Metropolitan Police over alleged money laundering and corrupt offences emanating from the $38 million Virgin Mobile shares acquisition.
Former State Governors James Ibori of Delta State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu of Lagos State and Victor Attah had been accused of money laundering in the transaction. Aondoakaa said he had no conflict with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
However, the then EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri denied that the EFCC had exonerated any of the suspects and insisted that the investigation was ongoing. The EFCC was said to be ready to co-operate with the MET police.
In March 2008, Obong Attah joined ExecutiveAction, a consultancy that helps firms manage problems in difficult business environments.
Obong Attah was born on 20 November 1938. He completed post-primary education in 1956. He gained a degree from Leeds College of Art and a post graduate diploma in Building Science from Liverpool University in 1965.
He won the scholarship to study at Columbia University in New York, where he obtained an MA in Advanced Architectural Design and Planning. He also attended the Kennedy Graduate School of Governance at Harvard University.
After completing his education, he practised as an architect in the Caribbean, New York City, and Nigeria. He served as the National President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects.