Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi
By Tokunbo Adedoja and Muhammad Bello
President Goodluck Jonathan will Friday meet with Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Hon. Seriake Dickson, to check the simmering controversy over disputed oil wells that have pitted the two states against each other.
THISDAY gathered that the president, who is worried by the turn the battle for the oil wells has taken, is ready to do all he can to stop the face-off from degenerating further.
The planned mediation is coming on the heels of a similar one last Wednesday when the president intervened in a conflict between Anambra and Kogi States over the location of some oil wells.
Sources at the State House said the president, who was very concerned about the crisis between Rivers and his home state, Bayelsa, intends to invite Amaechi and Dickson to discuss with him and other officials on how to resolve the crisis.
Amaechi on Monday had challenged the claim by Bayelsa to the oil wells located in Soku and Elem-Sangama communities in his state, adding that they have always belonged to Rivers State even before the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996.
He had called on officials of the Bayelsa State Government to leave the oil wells of Soku and Elem-Sangama communities in Rivers State alone as they had been in existence even before the creation of Bayelsa State.
Prominent elders and traditional rulers from the Kalabari kingdom, where the disputed oil wells are located, have also staged protests in Abuja and Port Harcourt to stop the alleged bid by Bayelsa to claim the 13 per cent derivation from the oil wells.
Some of them even linked Jonathan to the alleged surreptitious move to appropriate the oil wells to his state, an allegation the president has denied.
It was gathered that the president is not happy with the manner in which Amaechi and the Kalabari elders have gone about the campaign, especially linking him with the dispute when neither him nor his office had anything to do with the dispute, hence the decision to step in as a mediator.
But even as the president prepares to mediate in the row, the National Boundary Commission (NBC) has said it is working to resolve the boundary dispute between the two states.
The commission, in a statement signed by its Director General, Dr. MB Ahmad, said it had “scheduled activities to be jointly undertaken with officials of the two states in order to resolve the dispute once and for all”.
NBC observed that the Bayelsa/Rivers dispute has been in existence since the creation of Bayelsa out of Rivers in 1996.
Recalling that the commission had at different times intervened to resolve the dispute, it said the effort had encountered various challenges culminating in the Supreme Court judgment of July 10, 2012, in which the court directed the commission to conclude the delineation of the disputed boundary.
Noting that in the resolution of boundary disputes, the commission does not only operate within the law, it said it is also systematic and methodical in its approach.