From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
Indications emerged yesterday that succour may come the way of Cross River State Government over the lost 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State. At a meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo in his conference room at the State House, Abuja, the meeting examined the judgement of the Supreme Court on the matter and other matters arising and therefore, requested the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMFC) to make presentations as to the way forward.
A statement from the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Sani Umar, said during the presentation, the Chairman of the Commission, Elias Mbam disclosed that efforts were already on to provide succour to Cross River State due to the financial discomfort it suffered by the judgement of the Supreme Court. He further stated that the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, especially Section 5 Sub-section 7 stipulates that for the purposes of the Act and for avoidance of doubt, where any state of the federation suffers any loss which is outside its control, the stabilization funds shall be used to give succour to such a state.
The meeting also examined the new security challenges at the Bakassi Peninsula which had resulted in the loss of innocent lives through the activities of some foreign bodies and urged that as the Green Tree Agreement was nearing expiration, immediate measures were taken to forestall a repeat of the ugly incident. Present at the meeting were the governors of Cross River and Akwa-Ibom states, the Chairman,
Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, the Director-General National Boundary Commission, Dr. Mohammed Ahmed and other top government officials. Fielding questions from the State House correspondents after the meeting, the Cross River Governor, Imoke Liyel, said the meeting was to find ways and means of dealing with some of the challenges that the state was facing as a result of the ceding of Bakassi.
“Some of the challenges are humanitarian, social, security issues and financial. At the meeting, the VP directed federal agencies to look at ways and means of addressing the problems. “The VP has also directed that we look at the complains and asked that we forward them to him and to the office of the Attorney General with evidences that may have captured possible human rights abuses.”
Also commenting on the issue, the Akwa Ibom governor said the meeting also sought to find a peaceful way to accommodate all parties so that there would be peace in the region. “For me it was a very good meeting and we discussed also how to ensure that our sister state of Cross River is also happy with the situation.” So that the challenges they may be facing may be ameliorated in a way that will show that there is really a sense of belonging to the Nigerian federation. Re-settlement will continue to be a problem.
Even some of our people who opted to remain in the peninsula by 2013, when the final withdrawal of who wants to be a citizen and who wants to remain, I think we still have the problem of influx of people into the country. It is proper that we begin to prepare for refugee crises that may still rare its head outside those who are already here now. “I am sure that more people will still want to leave the peninsular in 2013.
It is something that the government will need to prepare itself so that it would not take them by surprise. Federal governmet is also looking at the issue of human rights abuses in the peninsular to ensure that our people are not unnecessarily harassed”. On the issue of Nigeria buying over the peininsular, Akpabio said he was in full support.
He noted that anything “that will give us an advantage of an additional territory I will be glad to support it. It is also an alternative if the price is not too high if we can afford it why not? We can buy back because Bakassi is too dear to our heart. For instance, in the case of Akwa Ibom, we are still groaning because it is too close to us. It is 40 minutes from one of our LGs. We really like Bakassi to come back to Nigeria”.