Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government saturday asked the federal government to review the National Boundary Commission (NBC) Act as a measure to manage raging border conflicts across the federation.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Moses Ekpo made this suggestion at the just concluded joint boundary meeting of Akwa Ibom and Abia States held at Umuahia, the Abia State capital yesterday.
The Deputy Governor of Abia State, Mr. Ude Chukwu and the Director-General of the NBC, Mr. Adamu Adaji, among others, also attended the meeting aimed at resolving boundary disputes between the two states.
He called for a review of relevant boundary laws and decrees, noting that artificial boundaries should not put assunder between brothers.
Ekpo, also Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Boundary Committee, explained the significance of the 2013 report of the Technical Committee, thereby calling for its adoption for possible implementation.
As an alternative, he asked the federal government “to establish some viable industries and commercial enterprises in the disputed lands as a means of stemming the source of conflict even as it would also guarantee genuine sources of livelihood for the people.
“We can trace the root of the crises to poverty. When the people from both sides try to make a living through their farmlands, conflicts are likely to erupt.”
He observed that something should be done “quickly to alleviate the sufferings of the people along the boundary corridors. Consider bringing more and more industries to generate wealth to the boundary areas.
“The commission should resonate this to the federal government because our people are suffering, they have no land to plant their crops to make a living; a people who were used to living from their farmlands.”
He noted that Akwa Ibom would continue to support everything that is done to alleviate the sufferings of the people and bring an end to the perennial problem at the borders in order to bring an end to the boundary crises.
Apart from creating bad blood between kith and kin, Ekpo added that every boundary crisis “is marked by severe job loss as the ensuing insecurity does not support farming and productive ventures by the natives who inhabit the areas.”
“Owing to the current paucity of funds and the effects of the global pandemic, states can no more afford to intervene in issues which are clearly the exclusive preserve of the federal government,” the deputy governor said.
The Director-General of the National Boundary Commission, Adamu Adaji who chaired the meeting noted the symbiotic relationship between the two states and regretted the delays in concluding the boundary definition process.
He promised that the commission would do everything possible to resolve the crisis between the sister states as quickly as possible and urged all relevant stakeholders to join forces with NBC towards achieving the task.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the parties agreed that a joint field team would undertake a field exercise from November 9 to December 14, 2020, to be preceded by separate and joint public enlightenment campaigns from October 14 to 29.
The communique noted that the harmonisation of the separate claims of the two S
states “shall be undertaken by a committee of experts after completion of the field work and submission of report in January 2021, while both parties were asked to maintain the status quo pending the final resolution of the boundary issue.”