ByÂ Kenneth Ehigiator
LAGOSâ€”Okopedi Community in Akwa Ibom State has urged President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua to call the state government to order over expropriation of its farmland and takeover of the federal road connecting it to the outside world for an airport project.
Spokesman of the community, Elder Moses Esuh, told newsmen at a briefing in Lagos yesterday that the state government has failed to keep its own part of the bargain, following the agreement reached with the community in 2006 not to extend the project to a portion of land on Ndon-Ebom end of the Trunk A road.
Elder Esuh expressed disappointment over the refusal of the state government to heed the directive of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, in a letter written to then Governor Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State, asked the governor to preserve the road, after inspecting the project site during his official visit to Akwa Ibom State in 2006.
Obasanjo had in the letter, dated August 14, 2006, written: â€œ Let me again restate my position that the Uyo-Oron road must be preserved or reconstructed and not be closed by the airport project.
â€œIn addition, I believe that you still need to pay some attention to feeder roads to increase productivity and income in the rural areas of the state and give them access to the cities.â€
But Elder Esuh argued that since government was a going concern, irrespective of who is in power, incumbent Governor Godswill Akpabio ought to have carried out the former presidentâ€™s directive and steer clear of the road and farmlands.
He said the federal government only approved that only one portion of the express road be taken for the airport, wondering why the state government encroached on the other part to completely cut off the community from the outside world.
â€œThe dual carriage road that led to Uyo, which was the easiest and fastest access to the outside world is blocked by reason of which the indigenes are now compelled to travel several miles to get to Uyo and other places.Â Other local government areas that use the road are trapped in the same problem as well,â€ Esuh said.
He said the forcible take over of the communityâ€™s farm lands had aggravated the poverty level of the people, stressing that hunger, anger and frustration were now the lots of the people.
Asked why the community had not sought the invention of its representatives in the National Assembly, Elder Esuh alleged that the lawmakers had sold out, and appealed to the president to use his good office to prevail on the state government to restore the lost part of the road and communityâ€™s farm lands.
He said the presidentâ€™s intervention becomes necessary, especially as Governor Akpabio had a shoot-on-sight order on member of the community that dared the state government.
â€œIt is, therefore, necessary for the federal government to call Governor Akpabio to order or is the governor more powerful than the president?â€ Queried Esuh, who noted that the Niger Delta could hardly afford another crisis as solution was being sought to existing crises through the amnesty granted militants by the federal government.
Esuh said, though the airport project would be commissioned in a few weeks, the community would not give up on its struggle until it reclaimed its seized portions of land