Akwa Ibom State government has called for the implementation of the Federal Government’s proposed trans-border initiative aimed at stemming the tide of boundary clashes in the State.
The Federal Government through the National Boundary Commission, NBC, had promised to adopt a trans-border initiative where the warring communities would focus on reconciliatory efforts, while it sets up critical life-touching infrastructure at the border communities so as to address the perennial problems of boundary crises which had claimed many lives.
The Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo in an interaction with newsmen on Wednesday in his office, wondered why the FG is yet to execute those lofty ideas, saying that such would have gone a long way in curbing the agitations.
He noted that the inability of the Federal Government to implement the initiative had hindered the peace process among conflicting communities across Nigeria.
His words, “Yes, the Federal government has come up with a trans-border initiative to address the boundary communal crisis. The question is, have they implemented it, where are the projects?
“We have been telling the FG since seven years, if we have a problem in borders about land, let government build an industry in the two sides of the boundary, reduce unemployment in both sides by employing people from the warring communities, in so doing, they will forget about the land they have been struggling for.”
He recalled that the Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC) established by the Federal Government at Oku Iboku, Itu Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State served the warring communities of Cross River State and Akwa Ibom without any rancour between them.
He added that as soon as the company collapsed, hostilities resumed in the area, causing many residents to flee the area.
“When Oku Iboku paper mill was there, we never had any conflict between neighbouring communities there. But as soon as the Paper Mill collapsed, communities around there were at war with each other, they remembered who had what
“If the Paper Mill was still functioning, we wouldn’t have had the communal conflicts there because many youths would have engaged themselves in meaningful jobs to help them instead of fighting,” the Deputy Governor said
Ekpo, however, appreciated federal donor agencies such as National Emergency Relief Management Agency ( NEMA) for assisting the State government in providing relief materials to victims of the border crisis and other communities in the State.