The Akwa Ibom State Government has restated its commitment to the sustenance of peace in the state, through timely intervention on boundary and communal crises.
The Deputy Governor and Chairperson of the State Boundary Committee, Senator (Dr.) Akon Eyakenyi, made the pledge on Monday, when she played host to the leadership and members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Boundary and Conflict Resolution, at Government House, Uyo.
Dr. Eyakenyi said with the current administration’s focus on rural development, it was important to address lingering boundary and communal clashes, for the government’s ARISE Agenda to thrive.
“We have held meetings with communities having boundary issues and invited all the Paramount Rulers, Village Heads and Youths Leaders. We stressed the fact that the current administration of Pastor Umo Eno will sustain the peace we have enjoyed in the state, because without a peaceful environment, development cannot thrive.
“The ARISE Agenda of Pastor Umo Eno is people-oriented and its primary concern is to ensure development gets to the grassroots. We will develop the city centre too, but we don’t need to concentrate on the cities alone.
“So we must be all ears across the 31 Local Government Areas. Whenever you hear boundary issues brewing, please get me informed on time and we will do our best to ensure that we intervene immediately and to the best of our ability, to ensure that we have sustained peace”, she said.
She disclosed that modalities to end boundary crises between Akwa Ibom and neighbouring states were at an advanced level, maintaining that the State Boundary Committee will not relent efforts in its bid to ensure enduring peace between Akwa Ibom and sister states.
“For the boundary issues between Akwa Ibom and Abia States, we have interacted with the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and agreed that we need peace to thrive. They (NBC) had since gone ahead to do demarcation and sent in the map for us to verify and that was done. The State Boundary Committee, Surveyor General and relevant stakeholders, including Local Government Chairmen were present and also identified the areas that were not correct.”
“The documents had since been forwarded to the Governor and we are waiting for feedback from the National Boundary Commission before we proceed for the final landmark to be done, so we can have peace”, she said.
On the security crises in Ntak Ikot Akpan, Essien Udim Local Government Area occasioned by the Nigerian Airforce’s air strike, the Deputy Governor immediately directed that the affected communities be enlisted in the next batch of relief materials to be distributed in the state.
Addressing various issues in Ikpanya Clan, Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, the Deputy Governor pledged that the community will be accorded priority in the rural development programmes of the state government, especially, road construction.
She promised that all security, health and education needs of the communities will be addressed in collaboration with the Ministries of Internal Security, Health and Education, as well as other relevant stakeholders.
Dr. Eyakenyi who commended the Committee’s proactiveness, pledged that the State Boundary Committee will continue to partner with the House Committee for enhanced productivity.
Earlier, Chairman of the Committee and leader of the delegation, Hon. Precious Selong, called on the state government to evolve viable options that will bring a lasting solution to the persistent communal clashes.
She further recommended the provision of relief materials to air strike victims in Ntak Ikot Akpan, Essien Udim LGA to ameliorate their pains.
In Ikpanya Clan, Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, the Lawmaker particularly called on the state government to, through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, address issues of Clan Headship tussle in the Community to prevent further disputes.
Hon. Selong also called for formation of a Special Joint Task Force, made up of personnel of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for regular patrol of the affected communities, for peace to reign.
Present during the courtesy visit were Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Grace Jim, Members of the House Committee on Boundary and Conflict Resolution, as well as Directors in the Deputy Governor’s Office.