Governor Godswill Akpabio
Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio says his state is willing to dialogue with Cross River over the disputed 76 oil wells, which the Supreme Court awarded to Akwa Ibom in a July 10 ruling. Akpabio said this saturday in Uyo during the state’s monthly prayer meeting held at John’s Chaplaincy, in the Governor’s Lodge.
The oil wells had been the subject of a fierce political dispute between the two sister states, which shifted to the court when Cross River went to the Supreme Court to claim ownership of the wells. It joined the federal government as a defendant in the suit, which, among other prayers, sought to compel the federal government and Akwa Ibom State to pay N15.5 billion to Cross River State as 13 per cent derivation from November 2009 to March 2010.
But the apex court ruled by a unanimous decision that the 76 oil wells belonged to Akwa Ibom State. The court also dismissed an application filed by Cross River State a few days to the judgement asking it to stay action on the judgement because Akwa Ibom had, allegedly, presented a doctored map of the Nigeria-Cameroon boundary as part of the documents it submitted to the court.
But Akpabio said yesterday, “Akwa Ibom is extending a further hand of fellowship that despite the Supreme Court judgement, Akwa Ibom is ready to enter into dialogue with Cross River State to end the issue of the 76 oil wells.”
The governor lamented that sections of the media had misquoted him during the legal tussle over the disputed oil wells, which had earlier been controlled by Cross River State. He called for prayers to end the imbroglio in the interest of peace and peaceful coexistence.
Akpabio’s comments came on the heels of Cross River State Governor Liyel Imoke’s explanation in an interview with THISDAY that he never rejected the Supreme Court’s decision on the disputed oil wells.
He had said, “We have accepted the judgement and we believe that with the facts that were before the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court delivered the judgement based on law.
“We would have preferred that the Supreme Court was a court that would see the issue of policy and that the judgement would be based on both law and equity.”
Akpabio said he would strive to restore friendship between Akwa Ibom and its mother state, Cross River, despite the oil wells standoff.
A statement by the governor’s special adviser on media, Mr. Jackson Udom, said Akpabio also spoke on some domestic issues, saying he will not be distracted by opposition.
“I won’t be angry like the Biblical Moses who broke the tablet of God’s commandments on return from Mount Sinai to see the idolatrous worshipping of a golden calf by the Israelites. While in the office with so much work done, I am still being criticised. I see the criticism as good for my administration,” Akpabio declared.
He pledged that his administration would complete the Etebi-Enwang Road, which has the longest bridge in the state.
The governor used the occasion to congratulate Idara Thompson, an Akwa Ibom indigene who recently emerged Speaker of the Nigerian Students’ Parliament.
In his homily, Bishop Cletus Bassey, reading from Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 and preaching on the theme, “Don’t undo what God has already done,” admonished the people of the state to guard against destructive attitudes.