By Timothy Ekpo
The Akwa Ibom State deputy governor, Mr Moses Ekpo, has advised the Interstate Boundary Communities to align themselves with National Boundary Commission (NBC) proposal for the implementation of the International Trans Border Cooperation (ITBC), with a view to ensure the peaceful co-existence of border communities.
The deputy governor gave the advice when he led the delegation of the National Boundary Commission and the State Boundary Committee in a sensitization visit to Ikpanyacommunity in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area in respect of the recurrent boundary crisis between Ikpanya and Arochukwuneighbour in Abia State.
Represented by the permanent secretary in his office, MrNkopuruk Ekaiko, Mr Ekpo, who had undertaken similar exercise to Obot Akara, he said the Federal Government through the commission, has decided to adopt the trans-border cooperation approach to solve inter-state boundary challenges in the country.
He explained that the programme involves a joint effort by the state and federal governments to relate with communities having boundary crisis to hand over such facility to government to establish projects of choice that could improve on the living standard of people of the areas.
The number two citizen, who is also the chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Boundary Committee, told the people that the programme has worked elsewhere, and it is the thinking of government that such cooperation which could involve the establishment of schools, hospitals, roads, markets, product processing companies and plants, agricultural development, etc could bring peace and development of the people.
He stated that for the period which warring communities have taken arms against each other, leading to the destruction of lives and property, government has spent huge funds in the supply of relief materials and attempt without success to end inter-state boundary matters across states in the country.
Mr Moses Ekpo noted that since government had found it uneasy to resolve boundary crisis due to the uncooperative positions of the communities involved, the new arrangement of setting up socio-economic development infrastructure would go a long way in solving such crises which to a larger extent were caused by hunger and poverty borne out of the fact the land and resources they have, have been threatened out of use.
He advised the Ikpanya clan, made up of seven villages in Ibiono Ibom, to think in the direction of the commission to ensure that the pains they have gone through in disputes between them and Arochukwu people in Abia State, come to an end since there was no gain in it.
He told the director-general of the commission, Mr AdamuAdaji, that from the speeches of the Ikpanya people it could be deducted that they needed peace since they were willing to let go the disputed land for the establishment of schools, hospital, markets, military and para-military formations, that on their visit to Arochukwu, they should equally preach the need for peace to them to conform with the decision of Ikpanya community.
The representative of the DG, Mr Nicholas Emowele, said the work of the commission was to ensure that people in the border communities across the country live in peace and harmony so that whatever measure government would make in terms of development, could make meaning.
He pointed out that over the years, the Federal Government through the commission has spent huge resources to promote peace at inter-state border communities, make available relief materials which warring communities destroy over boundary issues.
The DG’s representative told the people that since all these efforts had failed, government had decided to adopt a new approach through the trans-border cooperation mechanism, to address boundary crises but needed the cooperation of the communities involved.
Emowele maintained that while land has become assets of economic growth, the commission was not there to institute boundaries, but to solicit the aggreement of the people to come up with what such disputed boundaries could be used for, for the overall benefit of the areas.
The chairman of the local government, Mr Ekopimo Edet, said he was happy with efforts made by the commission and the Akwa Ibom government towards the plight of Ikpanyacommunity in the distribution of relief materials each time the Arochukwu neighbour attacked them.
He said that on several occasions, the commission had visited the area to see ways of bringing an end to the boundary problem of Ikpanya and Arochukwu, but that such efforts had failed to yield result. Mr Ekopimo told the commission that the Ikpanyapeople were peace-loving and would do all they could to live in peace with their Arochukwu neighbours.
The chairman of the local government assured the commission that Ibiono Ibom Local was ready to key into the trans-border cooperation plan but appealed that they also approach the people of Arochukwu to ensure that they too comply with the initiative.
The paramount of the area, HRM. Ime Udousoro Inyang, represented by the public relations officer (PRO), Ibiono Ibom Traditional Rulers Council, HRH. Daniel Bassey and the clan head of Ikpanya, HRH. Ekpeobong Onosin, thanked the commission and the Akwa Ibom government for their interest in the boundary problem of Ikpanya and Arochukwu people.
They presented the historical view of the boundary of the community and said that the commission should speed up action necessary for the proper demarcation of the boundary of the community with Arochukwu.
They also resolved to partner NBC on the trans-border cooperation plan to promote peace and development of Ikpanyawhich they said needed school, healthcare facility, security formation, access roads, markets, among other infrastructure.