By Akanimo Sampson
Apparently disturbed by the festering boundary conflict between Ikot Offiong community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State and Oku Iboku communities in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State that has continued to take the lives of citizens in the conflict area, the two states are currently blaming the Federal Government for the protracted crisis.
Governments of the two states are finding it hard to understand why Abuja was delaying in demarcating the boundary between the two bloodletting areas by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo and his Cross River counterpart, Ivara Ejemot Esu, made their feelings known at a three-day meeting of officials of their Inter-state Boundary held at Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital.
Esu, a professor, said the expected action from the NBC which has been dragging for too long, has given room for the escalation of the conflict between the warring communities in Odukpani and Itu, leading to destruction of avoidable human lives and property.
While pointing out that the boundary commission should carry out physical demarcation on ground at the boundary points, Esu urged Abuja to expedite actions on the matter as he and Ekpo jointly called on the federal government to establish projects such as fishing industry to benefit the people, in addition to the establishment of either a Military or Naval base to ensure maintenance of security cover to the affected communities.
Ekpo specifically stressed the need for the government to construct the Calabar – Itu – Road to ease movement of goods and services to enhance integration between the people.
In a communique later read by the Acting Director General of the NBC, Adamu Adaji, which was signed by the two deputy governors, the meeting resolved that, the field exercise for the permanent demarcation will commence with the identification of the boundary points for documentation from this coming November 11 to December 10.
Surveyor General of the two states, according to the document, are to meet and strategise on the best ways to ensure the success of the demarcation exercise before the commencement date of November 2019 and communicate same to the Surveyor General of the Federation.
While it was agreed that the Surveyor General of the Federation should award the contract for the emplacement of the boundary pillars immediately after the identification of the points among others, he is also expected to be in regular communication with his counterpart in both states to ensure that the exercise was accomplished.
The boundary commission is to monitor the preparedness of the states and ensure that all necessary arrangements are made as the two states concerned are to provide their respective contingents on the Joint Field Team, the required logistics support to ensure their uninterrupted participation in the demarcation work.
Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom and Cross River are to continuously reach out to the affected communities through their relevant local government councils and their traditional institutions on the need to maintain peace in the flash points.