Akwa Ibom deputy governor asks boundary commission to revisit disputed border lines

dcbb akwa ibom deputy governor moses ekpo x
dcbb akwa ibom deputy governor moses ekpo x

From Joe Effiong, Uyo

The Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Moses Ekpo, has asked the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to re-align the contentious borderlines between volatile border communities in order to stem the escalating tension and insecurity among such communities in Nigeria.

Mr Ekpo who stated this while interacting with the press in his office in Uyo on Tuesday noted that the major defect that has precipitated crises among border communities was the fact that those who created most of those borders were operating from the comfort of their offices by simply sitting down to draw seemingly imaginary lines to separate such communities without taking into consideration the realities of history and issues of common ancestral origins.

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The result of such an unrealistic approach, according to him, is that such boundary demarcation exercises ended up throwing new challenges by forcefully dividing families into separate geographic entities with dire consequences of mutual distrust and in some instances, violent agitations.

‘We left too many grey areas. If a little bit of care and time was taken to physically visit these areas at the border local governments, we would have been spared the current cycle of crises,’ he stressed.

Mr Ekpo said he was of the opinion that the wave of border crises is oftentimes triggered by inadequate or non-availability of land for cultivation, leading to hunger and poverty which serves as fuel for the crises.

‘As long as they do not have where to cultivate, they will not have what to eat, so, there’ll be crises. But, if we come to terms with reality, we will realise that no portion of land is worth the spilling of fellow human blood,’ he stated.

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The deputy governor who used the opportunity to shed more light on the state government’s policy on internal boundary crises noted that the government would continue to take over lands where there are intractable disputes and develop the same for the mutual benefit of such communities.

He added that as part of this new policy, the government will do everything to ensure that people who go out of their ways to foment crises leading to disaster, do not benefit from emergency relief materials as such crises would be considered self-inflicted.

Explaining the critical role of economic empowerment in the cushioning of border disputes, the deputy governor said there was an absolute need for the federal government to site meaningful projects such as military or security-based institutions at volatile borders.

He cited the instance of the perennial Akwa Ibom-Cross River border crises between Ikot Offiong in Akwa Ibom and Akpabuyo in Cross River which eventually became volatile since the closure of the federal government-owned Newsprint Manufacturing factory at Itu. He explained that with the loss of economic life-wire following the closure of the NMNC at Itu, there was no more unifying factor to checkmate the temperament of the youths along that border area.

He urged the federal government to convert the massive boundary corridor between Akwa Ibom and Cross River States into an economic hub for the mutual benefit of the two states.

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