Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi has called on officials of the Bayelsa State Government to leave the oil wells of Soku and Elem-Sangama communities in Rivers State for Rivers people as they have been in existence even before the creation of Bayelsa State.
Declaring open a legislative capacity building programme for the Rivers State House of Assembly in Calabar, Cross River State, Amaechi said Rivers and Bayelsa states had never had issues with boundaries as the boundaries were well known to all. He noted that since the creation of Bayelsa State there had been no law or agreement ceding any part of Kalabari communities or Rivers State to Bayelsa State.
“We will not allow the attempt by the Bayelsa State Government to collect our oil wells, I have read what the Bayelsa State governor said that the 11th edition of the (administrative) map (of Nigeria) gave them the oil wells.
When? They didn’t talk about the 1st edition to the 10th edition, they chose to avoid that, and went to the 11th edition, but the question they should answer is why avoid the previous editions?” Amaechi asked. Amaechi said the Federal Government had admitted in court to correct the mistakes in the 11th edition, saying that the court documents were filed by their lawyers who admitted the mistakes contained in the map of the 11th edition. “But the Federal Government came to court and said, ‘oh we made a mistake in the 11th edition, we will correct it’.
They should correct it. The documents were filed by their lawyers, not our lawyers. All we want is for the Federal Government to go back to the 10th edition and correct everything,” he said. “Bayelsa State was created so many years ago, there has been no law ceding that part of Kalabari kingdom to Bayelsa State. Now when did it suddenly change, it changed in 2006, but I don’t want to join issues. I want the Kalabari people to represent themselves and I will stand behind them, and all what we are saying is that they should look from the 1st to the 10th edition (of the administrative map) and not an imaginary 11th edition,” Amaechi added.
“It won’t work; it will certainly not work, no matter how they try to intimidate the agencies of the Federal Government we will continue to go to court and let our people know that the agencies of the Federal Government are being intimidated, that is what we are saying.” Governor Amaechi urged Rivers people to stand behind his administration to ensure justice, equity and fair play was achieved over the sudden claims by the Bayelsa State Government “All we want is for Rivers people to stand by us; Soku community has been in Rivers State long before Bayelsa State was created. Elem-Sangama is not a ward in Bayelsa State, but they said, they don’t want territory, they want derivation, how can that work?
Does oil come from the air? He has already answered the question for us, but we must struggle to get back our oil wells,” Amaechi said. Speaking further, Amaechi expressed gladness that the retreat for the state lawmakers was holding in Calabar, saying that one of the benefits of the retreat was to acquire knowledge and challenge them to evolve useful contributions that would better the lives of Rivers people.
He said: “Very soon we shall present the Appropriation Bill, the kind of bills you have passed into law are useful to the people, development to Rivers State and contributes towards making the Assembly a veritable instrument for good governance in the state.” Also speaking, the Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke while appreciating the lawmakers for holding their retreat in Calabar, said no compensation was paid to Bakassi natives who were passing through hard times.
Earlier, the Speaker of the River State House of Assembly, Otelemaba Amachree, said the purpose of the retreat was double fold; to lift the level of participation in law making process by the legislators and to keep focus with the purpose for which their people gave them mandate in the various constituencies to represent them.