By Timothy Ekpo
The Akwa Ibom government has advised the Ikot Akpan community and the Amazaba group of villages, to blunt the edges of their disagreement to enable the government implement the white paper to end the 14-year dispute in the area.
The White Paper Implementation Committee on Ikot Akpan Udo in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area and Amazaba group of villages in Eastern Obolo Local Government gave the advice during a visit with a view to identifying areas in the rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed during the 2008 boundary crisis the area.
Addressing both communities, separately, at Ikot Akpan Udo and Okoroete, the leader of the team, Professor Augustine Umoh, said the visit was a follow up to the various meetings the committee had with parties involved in the crisis.
Umoh, who is the commissioner for health, stated that the Udom Emmanuel administration, had taken serious steps,including the development of the white paper that would enable government provide facilities that were destroyed in the area to enable the people restore their living standard.
The leader of the team explained that the opportunity given to the area by the committee, was not to revisit old issues but to enable the community take the team to locations government could rebuild schools, health centre, market, civic centre and other amenities that were pulled down.
He said, since the Udom Emmanuel administration was desirous and committed to restoring peace in lkot Akpan Udo and Amazaba, they too have the responsibility of providingenabling environment through which the objective could be achieved by blunting the edges of disagreement so that government could do the needful to restore peace there.
Umoh reasoned that while it was not necessary for the people of Ikot Akpan Udo to insist that government should demarcate the boundary between Ikot Abasi with Eastern Obolo, Amazaba should desist from taking actions capable of igniting another round of crisis in the area.
He said the intention of government, under the present administration, was to first get the people to come together to enable the execution of projects that were destroyed such as school, health centre, market, civic centre, to restore live in the area, before gradually working towards the determination of the boundary between the two communities.
At Ikot Akpan Udo, the chairman, Ikot Abasi Local Government, Mr Joshua Afia, urged the people to key into what government had come to do in the area in view of the fact the Amazaba neighbours had destroyed most houses and government infrastructure during the period of the crisis.
The village head, Eteidung Oscar Abel, who spoke through the chairman of the village council, Chief John Obotowo, appreciated the state government for efforts made so far to bring peace to the area.
He assured government of the willingness of Ikot Akpan Udo to cooperate with the committee to execute whatever project was desired for the community.
Abel said the matter was not a case between Ikot Akpan Udo and Amazaba, rather the crisis was between Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas.
He therefore appealed to government to, first of all determine the boundary between Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo, so that projects in the white paper could remain without further destruction by the Amazaba people.
At the Obolo Hall where Amazaba people had gathered, the paramount ruler, HRH. Edidem Harry Etetor and the council chairman, Mr Abraham Odiong, said that for 14 years, the Amazaba people had no place to stay after being driven out of their community by Ikot Akpan Udo.
They appreciated government’s determination of settle the problem as they were ready to cooperate to bring lasting peace to the area.
The paramount ruler urged government, under Gov Udom Emmanuel, to complete the project of enabling their return to their ancestral home before the end of his tenure next year.
He implored government to exercise its authority over the Ikot Akpan Udo to ensure their return to Amazaba.
Edidem Etetor said the Amazaba people were ready to cooperate with government in all the programmes lined up in the process and urged the committee to provide adequate security for the planned solemn assembly.
During the visit, the white paper implementation committee, visited the site of Health Centre, Ikot Akpan Udo, an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted project built in 1987 by the state government, alleged to have been burnt during the crisis.
On the visit were the commissioner for education, Mrs Idongesit Etiebet; Commissioner for cooperative and ruraldevelopment, Mrs Enobong Mbobo; Commissioner for trade and investment, Engr. Camilus Umoh; that of power and petroleum, Dr John Etim; the permanent secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Mr Nkopuruk Ekaiko and the commissioner for special duties, among others.