From Akanimore Kufre, Uyo
Accolades have started flowing forth as accomplished elder-statesman, erudite Architect of international repute and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Bassey Attah, attains 81 in a fortnight. Obong Attah, who is widely acknowledged as the father of modern Akwa Ibom State, first distinguished himself as an esteemed Architect, famed political pundit at the 1994|95 National Constitutional Conference, cerebral national president of the Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) and a decorous warrior for justice, before throwing his hat into the political ring in Akwa Ibom State in 1999. And then, when it comes to Resource Control, Attah built a reputation as a fitting leader, dignified warrior, a lofty pathfinder who truly loves his people.
Akwa Ibom State government told The New Diplomat last night that the State government has plans in place to mark Attah’s birthday which comes up on November 20. Mr Ekerete Udoh, spokesperson for Governor Udom Emmanuel said the State government has plans in place for Obong Attah’s birthday but “details would be made public soon.” According to him, Obong Attah has always been celebrated and he will be celebrated this year as well. This is not unexpected. To many, Attah is an inspirational and highly respected political leader across Nigeria whose accomplishments are spectacular. Attah designed the regional master-plan of Uyo and it’s environs as well as the Master-plan of the University of Calabar, etc. To his credit, he designed many architectural projects in Nigeria, Malawi , South Africa, the Caribbean. etc. In fact, Attah’s compelling attributes that have always distinguished him from the madding crowd!
Akwa Ibom State was created by the regime of General Ibrahim Babaginda on account of Obong Attah and Gen Edet Akpan’s request for a State for their people. According to insiders, it was Attah’s push, breath-taking love for his people that principally convinced IBB to hearken to requests for the creation of Akwa Ibom State on September 23, 1987. The Akwa Ibom State Government had last year renamed the Ibom International Airport after Attah in clear recognition of Attah’s pioneering role as well as his exceptional contributions to the overall development of the State. That impressive action followed a unanimous resolution passed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on November19, 2018 to rename the Airport after Attah.
While justifying the action, Governor Udom Emmanuel had said: “Obong Victor Attah’s developmental strides during his eight years tenure such as the Ibom Deep Seaport Project, Ibom International Airport with Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, Ibom Hotel & Gulf Resort, Phase one of the State Secretariat Complex cannot go unnoticed….Such demonstration of zeal, patriotism and forthrightness is worthy of emulation by all leaders…His doggedness for the actualization of true federalism and resource control had paid off well for the state and the south south region with the result being tremendous increase in the revenue accruing to the oil bearing states.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in his own accolade to mark the former governor’s 80thbirthday described Attah as an accomplished Architect of global standing, whose contributions to the architectural development of the country is phenomenal. Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said Buhari joined family members, friends, professional colleagues and political associates of Attah in celebrating the elderstatesman’s many years of service to God and humanity, and the obvious impact of his leadership style. “As an architect with versatile and global working experience, the President commends the strategic thinking and planning of Obong Attah and his cabinet in shaping the infrastructural development of Akwa Ibom, which still remains one of the most hospitable and attractive states for tourists in the country. President Buhari affirms that Obong Attah’s contribution to architectural development has been most remarkable, and historical, especially when he served as President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects.”
It is not therefore surprising that the people of Akwa Ibom State continue to accord high reverence, great admiration and respect” to Attah for his great accomplishments while in and out of office. Born November 20, 1938 into the famous Attah family ( Obong Victor Attah’s father, the illustrious late Chief Bassey Udo Adiaha Attah was the first Nigerian to earn a Master’s degree in Agriculture, and the second Nigerian to earn a degree in the same field, having obtained chains of degrees from the United States in the early 1940s. He owned several plantations in the then old Eastern Region. Attah’s mother, Madam Agnes Bassey Attah, a prominent School teacher who co-founded the Ibibio Women Union and became it’s first President, was a woman of esteemed nobility) of Okop Ndua Erong, Asutan Ekpe in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state, youngVictor Attah had the priming of anenlightened, positive tutelage. It is this positive childhood upbringing that eventually shaped Attah’s worldview, debonair and intellectual character.
Attah attended St. Patrick’s College in 1956. He proceeded overseas where he studied at Leeds, University of Liverpool(UK) and Columbia University, New York(USA). In 1965, he earned his first degree in Architecture from Leeds, a post-graduate diploma in Building Science from University of Liverpool the following year. He went on to bag a Master of Science(MA) degree in advanced Architectural Design and Planning from the prestigious Columbia University in New York,USA, a year after. In his professional career, Attah who is fondly addressed as “Obong” in acknowledgement of his spectacular feats, has practiced Architecture in Britain, Nigeria , US, and the Caribbean. His firm, Inter-Designs Partnership (IDP) which he set-up upon his return to Nigeria is easily one of the most respected Architectural firms in Nigeria. There is no doubt that his rich character upbringing, extensive educational background as well as his rich intellect greatly account for why Attah, doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Not-withstanding his accomplishments, the former governor remains highly humble, very warm and most accessible to all.