President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ndubuisi Ugah
A socio-political group, the Kalabari National Forum, Monday protested the alleged moves by the Federal Government to excise five oil-producing communities in Kalabari Kingdom, Rivers States to Bayelsa.
The Forum urged President Goodluck Jonathan to stop those behind the move in the interest of peace.
Addressing journalists after submitting petitions to the National Boundary Commission (NBC), and the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in Abuja, the Forum alleged surreptitious moves by some Federal Government officials to take away the affected communities from Rivers and give them to Bayelsa for political reasons.
The oil-rich communities in dispute are: Kula, Soku, Elem-Sangama, Idama and Abissa.
The communities which host the Soku Oil fields /oil wells produce about 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day, making them one of the richest areas in the Niger Delta.
The protests became necessary, according to Emmanuel Awoyesuau-Jack, the Chairman of Akukutoru Local government Area Traditional Council of Rivers State, who spoke for the forum, owing to glaring unwillingness of Federal Government functionaries to ensure justice in the matter which has been before relevant Federal Government agencies for several years.
The agencies involved included the Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation, the NBC, RMAFC and the Supreme Court.
He added that from available information, the correction to the 11th edition of the Nigerian Administrative Map which gave the communities to Bayelsa, might not be effected in the 12th edition of the map being expected without President Jonathan’s intervention.
Awoyesuau-Jack said: “the self-explanatory effort was perceived to assuage the initial provocation of the Rivers State government. While Rivers State government patiently awaited the promised correction of the error-laden 11th edition of the Administrative map of Nigeria, which ordinarily should have redressed the acknowledged fundamental misrepresentations, the RMAFC surreptitiously released all revenue accruing from Soku fields and wells, previously kept in an Escrow Account to Bayelsa State without recourse to Rivers State.
“In spite of every meaningful effort by the Rivers State government to seek justice in this extremely provocative matter, no progress from the NBC has been made to date.
It was however, rumoured that, the assurances given disappointingly, will not reflect the promised correction but rather the provisional 12th Administrative Map said to be under production will nakedly usurp 80 per cent of Akuku Toru LGA in Rivers State by further shifting the boundary line from San Bartholomew River to Sombereiro River.
“Let us, in the light of the above, state without mincing words, as inhabitants of the area under reference, that this position is totally unacceptable as it is a clear manifestation of political manipulation intent on balkanising Kalabari territory and ceding same to Bayelsa State.
“This premeditated and strategically executed action is intended to sustain and legitimise the injustice and brazen act of aggression meted out to the Kalabari Kingdom and Rivers State, with the connivance of various Federal Government agencies, under the watchful eyes and supervision of Mr. President, whose home state, most ingloriously, is the direct beneficiary.”
The group warned that the matter could shatter the peace in the area if President Jonathan failed to intervene and ensure that officials concerned did the right thing.
“This matter we must say, is explosively provocative and has far reaching security implications. Let us also state in the strongest terms that our resolve to remain one indivisible Kalabari people with our kit and kin in the old Degema Division in the present Rivers State is unshakable and inalienable. “We therefore unequivocally, demand that whatever administrative map that has been issued that does not reflect the 10th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria as it affects us, be withdrawn forthwith and status quo maintained as our known historical boundary with Nembe Kingdom in Bayelsa State is the Santa Barbara River,” the spokesman said.
Former Minister of Tourism, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, who also latter joined the briefing, urged President Jonathan to halt the interests working to upset the stability of the region.
According to him, “the communities in question belong to Rivers State. For someone to stand up one day and change that or say the now belong to Bayelsa is unacceptable. The president should ensure that the status quo is maintained.”
“We will do everything to ensure there is no violence because our people deserve unity and stability but we will not allow anything that will status quo as established by the colonial masters.”