By Bartholomew Madukwe
Barrister Tanko Ashang is a legal adviser to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA. In this interview, he spoke on the report recently submitted by the Presidential Committee on the Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Bakassi people set up by the Federal Government.
He insisted that the Federal Government must implement the recommendations of the committee quickly in a bid to give hope to the displaced people of Bakassi. In the same vein, he commended the Cross River State Governor, LiyeI Imoke for his dedication, understanding and commitment to ensuring that the people are well taken care of. Excerpt.
You are aware that a committee set up on the issue of Bakassi resettlement and the committee just submitted its report to the Vice President, what is your reaction to the report? Considering the fact that there have been some reactions to the report, what is your general perspective on the issue?
Well, Bakassi is a naughty issue that bothers every Cross Riverian who is worthy of that name. Everybody is concerned of the huge sacrifice Cross River has made for this country, therefore the Bakassi will remain an urgent issue until it is addressed.
The state government is doing its best to continue to provide for the displaced people of Bakassi because of concession of the land to the Cameroon, an action that was taken by the Federal Government and the state Government is also maintaining security and conducting itself properly.
We are grateful to the State Government and our governor, Senator Liyel Imoke for handling the matter very maturely and we are also grateful to those who have served in the committee. However, we are happy that finally a report has been submitted.
We expect that now that the report have been submitted, the Federal Government will act timely so we can save our people the trauma they have been going through. Our hearts are in our mouth because we are worried whether the report will be immediately implemented. It will be good for all if the Federal Government implement it timely.
So what is the perspective as regards the Bakassi people that have been relocated?
Well, l actually live in Calabar I don’t just go there, as you are aware, if you are displaced from your area it can never be easy for you, I’m sure you know that even if you are visiting or staying with relations it would be a difficult challenge so long as this people who are fishing community are not in their area of comparative advantage they will always be unhappy and would affect the general mood of Cross Riverians and our hearts are with them and any part of Cross River that face serious difficulties.
Until they are properly settled, it would be a worrisome issue and as you know very well the country is presently experiencing a serious security challenge and if not for the dedication and disposition of the Governor there would have been serious issue in the region.
You are very much aware of issues of militancy, piracy, kidnapping, human trafficking and the rest but the Governor has been able to manage the situation adequately and the state has been in calm situation. He has shown so much maturity, u
nderstanding and commitment to ensuring the matter is quickly addressed in the interest of our people and Nigeria.
I think the committee has done a lot by identifying some Islands and locations to rehabilitate the Bakassi people, hence needs to be commended. The Federal Government needs to strengthen all the mechanisms to rehabilitate the displaced people and put all the structures in place quickly. We have confidence in the Vice President who is head of the Committee.
What has your agency been doing as regards Bakassi?
NEMA has been involved right from the moment the territory was ceded to Cameroun. We have constantly provided relief materials, but you know that the scope of the Bakassi issue is complex and far beyond the mandate of a singular government agency like NEMA and the Vice President who is the Chairman of the NEMA Governing Board is adequately equipped to address this problem and ensure the plight of the people are urgently addressed through the report of the committee. We’re confident and hopeful that the situation will end soon and smoothly and as a Cross Riverians I will hope that speedy action is taken.
Another challenge that has faced the State is the loss of 76 Oil wells to Akwa – Ibom State what is your reaction to this?
The Supreme Court judgment again is regrettable. It is another challenge Cross River had to go through. The state has comparative advantage; oil has never been our core advantage. Agriculture is key and we have great potentials in this regard, I know our able Governor is well equipped to take us out of this situation. I don’t want to see it as a disadvantage or challenge. But we, as a people are capable of making greater progress with or without oil .Cross River State is very safe with governor Liyel Imoke.