By John Ighodaro
CALABARâ€”The Cross River State Elders Consultative Forum has called for reparations in perpetuity from the Federal Government and the United Nations on account of its ceding of Bakassi to Cameroun .
The forum also condemned and rejected in its entirety the de-listing of Cross River as an oil-producing state and the ceding of 76 oil wells to neighbouring state, Akwa Ibom.
According to them, â€œthe ceding of Bakassi which was done without the consent and wishes of Cross Riverians should attract compensation in perpetuity from both the Federal Government and the United Nationsâ€ while calling on the state government to â€œadopt all lawful means to get full reparation in perpetuity for the ceding of Bakassi.
We are unshaken in our belief in the Nigerian federation and the ability of Mr. President and Vice-President to ensure equity, justice and fairplay in this matter,â€ they added.
In a 13-point communiquÃ© presented at the end of its meeting in Calabar, Cross River State, which was signed by all the members, including Dr. Joseph Wayas, Etubom Anthony Ani and Dr. Matthew T. Mbu, they emphasized that the action of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation, and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the National Boundary Commission was capable of disrupting peace, not only of the two neighbouring states, but the nation at large.
The elders, however, thanked President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan for their efforts at resolving the issue amicably and in the interest of national security, equity and justice.
They were unanimous in condemning the Revenue Mobilization Allocation, and Fiscal Commission for misleading the President on the issue and deliberately avoiding and suppressing the report of its technical committee set up to determine the position of Cross River as an oil producing state.
According to them, the report was unequivocal in its recommendation that the state is not only a littoral state but oil producing and her waters degraded by oil pollution and that the intentions and integrity of the chairman of RMAFC must be questioned by the President.
The forum also condemned the National Boundary Commission for its flagrant breach of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by altering state boundaries without due process with connivance of RMAFC.
According to them â€œSection 8(2) provides:Â An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of boundary adjustment of any existing state shall only be passed if:-
(a)Â Request for the boundary adjustment, supported by two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding and the area affected by the boundary adjustment) in each of the following, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives, the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly and a proposal for the boundary adjustment is approved by a simple majority of members of each House of the National Assembly and a simple majority of members of the House of Assembly in respect of area concerned.
Cross River, they further argued has made incalculable sacrifice for the sake of the Nigerian nation by allowing its territory to be ceded to the Republic of Cameroon , against the wish of the people.
It stressed that the controversy should not in the first place, be dug upÂ because, the issue, was resolved by the two States at the same time the on-shore/off shore controversy was politically resolved by the last administration to the satisfaction of the two States, adding that the position which was settled using historical titles and accepted by the Presidency, is also supported by Article 15 and 17(i) of UNCLOS 1982, of which Nigeria is a signatory as the ill-motivated move to reopen a closed issue is not only in bad faith, but an attempt to try the patience of Cross Riverians.
â€œThe peace loving people of Cross River State should not be provoked further and their patience taken for granted.Â The capital of Nigeria , which was formerly in Calabar, was moved to Lagos , the people did not react, substantial part of Bakassi was ceded to the Cameroon , our people did not react.Â And now, the ceding of our Oil Wells and declassification as a littoral State.
It must be warned that we are approaching a boiling point and may not be able to guarantee peace if these acts of provocation are not redressed immediatelyâ€ it emphasized.
The elders urged Cross Riverians to continue to maintain the peace because they have implicit confidence in the Presidentâ€™s ability to resolve the issue, pledging that they are solidly behind Governor Imoke in the steps taken so far and urged him to continue to use all lawful means to ensure amicable resolution for the peaceful co-existence of the two States.
They further noted the devastation and pollution visited on the stateâ€™s coastal waters and creeks by oil production and exploration activities, which had been overlooked in the past, should be compensated by the Federal authorities. Stressed.
Early on, while addressing the forum, Governor Liyel Imoke said government takes advantage of its great resources which it possesses and has been working with its support towards the development of the State, commending them for the support which they have given to the administration.
On the de-listing of Cross River as an Oil-producing State , Imoke noted that their reactions to the issue reflect their recognition of some measures of good governance at various sectors, stating that the matter will be resolved in favour of the State.
He believed the matter will be resolved in the shortest possible time though the State has not taken kindly to it because it is the rights of the people, explaining that the April allocation to State was N798 million with a wage bill of N1.1 billion bearing in mind the challenges of its terrain and weather.
The Governor therefore appealed to youths and well meaning Cross Riverians not to take to the streets because the State is still part of Nigeria and has confidence in the President and the Vice President, stating that the State is still feeling theÂ burden of losing Bakassi which he said calls for reparation.