OurWorldGist presents to you anÒ unedited press conference by Coalition of Youth Organizations ( CYO ), Oron Union Youth Wing Essu Nlap Oro & Oro Youth Movement.
Here is the text:
“PROTOCOL. Gentlemen of the press, we welcome you all to this civic exercise.
We are coalition of major youth organizations in Oro Nation being Oron Union Youth Wing, Essu Nlap Oro and Oro Youth Movement (OYOM). Oro Nation (Mbo, Oron, Udung Uko, Okobo and Urue Offong/Oruko LGAs) being the third largest ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State are aware of the controversial Bill for a Law to provide for a new Map for Akwa Ibom State and other matters connected therewith. The said Bill being hurriedly passed into law on the 13th day of April, 2023 by the State House of Assembly is cited as the Akwa Ibom State Map Establishment Law 2023, and having been purportedly assented to by the State Governor, HE Udom Emmanuel on 20th April, 2023.
Going by the report of the Joint Committee on Lands and Housing, Boundary and Conflict Resolution and Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, presented by its Chairman, Rt Hon. Sir Udo Kierian Akpan (Oruk Anam), the Bill, sponsored by Hon. David Lawrence (Eket), will, hopefully, help reduce agitations and communal conflicts, enhance and promote development within the “mapped-out boundaries”.
Furthermore, the report has also stated that “The Bill will enhance cultural affinities of the people within the boundaries and make for easy identification and placements. It will also assist in the proper identification and allocation of resources domiciled in the component units.”
Oro Youth believe the Bill was enacted on False Optimism. Despite its manifest fancies, not a few is aware of its latent perils and the rationale behind it. Infact, the large swathes of feelers available indicate that the overwhelming majority of Akwa-Ibomites are not at home with the Bill, because of its inherent biases which has threatened the riparian rights and autochthonous heritages of some territorially defined entities, including the Oro land, Ibeno and Eastern Obolo LGAs. This leaves the Oro youth in doubt and with an urgent need to question the rationale behind such a swift enactment.
REDUCTION OF AGITATION AND COMMUNAL CONFLICT
Sociologically, the map of a place has never on its own caused agitation and communal conflicts, but fear of domination or extinction, hunger, deprivation, alienation do.
Instead of changing or drawing a new map to pursue vested and whimsical ends, government ought to be interested in finding a people-centric solution to the issue of communal conflict.
A more sustainable approach according to a 2019 publication of Nextier SPD is to promote DIALOGUES and efficient criminal justice system as effective peaceful mechanisms for resolving communal conflicts.
There is no known document that recommends a new map as a solution. It’s questionable as it is unacceptable for those involved to have conceived such a divisive idea.
PROMOTION OF DEVELOPMENT
Akwa Ibom State continues to face massive development challenges, including the need to close the infrastructure gap, build strong and effective institutions, as well as address governance issues. Closely knitted to this is the issue of lack of job opportunities which is at the core of the high poverty levels and inequality in the State, all local and international statistical data revealed that AKS is one of the poorest states in Nigeria with a high unemployment index of 48.7 as reported by National Bureau of Statistics.
This is not a function of producing a new map. It is therefore wrong for the Government and hoodwinked Law makers to leave the most important development questions to pursuing covetous aims with such energy twilight to their tenure expiration.
One would wonder what glories are attached to a government who promised the completion of Ibom Science Park but can not, one (1) industry per local government area of the state but can not, completion of Airport Junction/Nsit Atai/Okobo/Oron road but can not, Ibaka Deep Sea Port before the end of his tenure but can not, over a pugnacious mapping or remapping of over 3 decades old state with an existing map that has been used for several legal battles with other states.
CULTURAL AFFINITY AND IDENTIFICATION
Over the past years, the Oro people have cried to the government, begging for a deserving recognition as Oil Bearing Area.
The government instead of paying attention to the cries of the Oro people instead paid attention to a map that seeks to disunite, degrade and kick out other Local Government Areas and their resources, thereby leaving them with more despair and aggrieved by their plight in a State that has been built majorly on their resources.
This miscalculated strategy called remapping will instead bring about cultural dislocation and lost of resources. The reality will be a full blown boundary war (no more crisis) across the State.
The Oro people can no longer afford the luxury of the grim and gloom reality that comes with war. Hence, we reject the remapping with all its skewed letters and selfish intendments.
RESOURCE ALLOCATION, PIA AND THE REMAPPING
One of the recent challenges of resource control is in the account of the seventy six oil wells dispute between the Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State in the South-South, two states even with long historical and cultural ties. It would be recalled that the Cross River State government had earlier sued the Akwa Ibom State on the land Boundary dispute as noted in the press statement of the Government of Akwa Ibom State of July 27, 2012.
The case bordered on the land boundary involving twenty four villages of Oku/Itu/Ayadehe ward of Itu Local Government Area and the south estuarian boundary between the two States in a suit No. Sc.124/1999.
It is important to note that it was the current map that was used in the case until Akwa Ibom State was favoured at the end of the long legal tussle.
If the same map was used to seek and get justice for the State in the year under review, why is it inappropriate to use the same map to protect the current litoral endowment of the State? Why is the remapping suddenly a desideratum not long after the PIA was introduced and subsequently assented to by the President?
The negative implication could amount to a resurgent of another rounds of legal battle for the coming administration, if you say your state never had an official map so what did you used in the case under reference to own the oil wells.
We the Oro youth completely reject the wanton greed by the State arrangements to dress the sheer dry lands of their Local Governments in borrowed litoral ropes, just because they want to be beneficiaries of the 3% authorized by the PIA.
Any attempt to cede any part of Oro land to another Local Governments under the pretext of remapping will be vigorously resisted.
ILLEGALITY OF THE PROCESS
Recall that Section 8 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [as amended] gives clear credence to all matters pertaining to delineating of boundaries of Local Government Areas in Nigeria, stating unequivocally the powers of the House of Assembly in such matters.
The letters and spirit of that section of the law completely refrain the State House of Assembly or any person or agency from illegally dividing any part of the State or adjust boundaries without popular consultation and seeking consent of the Local Government Areas.
If the action of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in hurriedly proposing, passing and anticipated assent to a Bill to empower the State Surveyor General to remap and/or provide a new map that only affects the litoral Local Government Areas of the State is not a deliberate attempt at marginalizing and extending the frontier of oppression beyond 2023, then it is an attempt at completely cleansing them or territorially discontinuing their existence.
Such a high-levelled illegality at compromising the law to favour personal interests of those involved ultravires spacial logics, compromises communal affinity and defy even common sense. It is a birthing of an irrational act of balkanization that must not be allowed to live.
In addition to the above, it becomes necessary to note that the exercise does not meet the minimum legal requirements also called “Condition Precedent” for remapping which according to Section 8(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria includes.
In much the same manner, the Oro youths cannot accept such laws since the House of Assembly did not first receive any letter for boundary adjustment supported by two thirds of members of the House of Assembly and two thirds of the Members of the Local Government Areas affected by the proposed boundary adjustment REQUESTING for such delineation and adjustment. In the face of these lapses, one wonders where those behind this clear act of contempt derived their powers from.
WHO INITIATED THE BILL AND WHY?
Questions bordering on who asked the bill to be initiated or proposed on the floor of the State House of Assembly may never be sincerely answered. This is because, to the best of our knowledge, none of the three littoral Local Government Areas, that is, Mbo, Okobo, Urue Offong/Oruko, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno Local Government Areas, has ever made a request for boundary adjustment, neither have their consent been sought to that effect.
There is no way the Oro people could have consented to putting forth such request for selective remapping of only the litoral Local Governments Areas of the State, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with the existing Map of Akwa Ibom State and when we have not received a copy of such request demanding for remapping or boundary adjustment. The desperate and vicious effort by the Lawmakers seeking to annex villages of Eastern Obolo, Ibeno and Mbo Local Government Areas into Eket, Onna, and Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas smacks of greed taken too far and we reject it in all ramifications, contexts and logic.
1.6 REJECTION OF THE REMAPPING LAW:
In response to what HE Mr Udom Emmanuel said during commissioning of his Project, where he said, he introduced the State anthem, State flags, State official logo, etc why should people kick against a state map?
We make bold to state categorically that we reject the law for remapping and boundary adjustment that affects Eastern Obolo, Ibeno, Okobo, Mbo and any other Local Government Areas of Oro Nation of Akwa Ibom State under any pretext or strategy. This law, devoid of popular consultation and the consent of the affected Local Government Areas, aims to marginalize and oppress our communities.
We view it as a deliberate and reprehensible attempt to undermine communal ties, disregard the rule of law, and perpetuate oppression. In fact, as a matter of existentiality we join our voice with other members of the state who already called for the total rejection of such plans.
1.7 AVAILABILITY OF ORIGINAL ADMNISTRATIVE MAP FOR AKWA IBOM STATE
We view the statement of the State Governor HE Mr Udom Emmanuel as a lie, when he claimed that the 36 years old Akwa Ibom State does not have an administrative map not until a Certified True Copy of the state map was released from the office of Surveyor General of the Federation recently.
Accordingly, we call on the office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, National Boundary Commission and all relevant agencies to intervene and stop any further operation to illegally cede our lands to another and to disregard any claim of proper legislative procedures.
We demand an immediate cessation of all activities related to the law and strict adherence to constitutional provisions. We urge the lawmakers to reconsider their position and work towards the betterment of our unemployed youth, deployable communities, rather than engaging in actions that sow discord and breed crises.
Furthermore, we call on the incoming Governor HE Pastor Umo Eno to annul any of such bill which is capable of fuelling anarchy and breach of law and order.
1.8 TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF OUR LAW MAKERS AND OTHER POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS
We have observed with studied attention to see the reactions of our State House of Assembly members from Oro extraction represented by the following dishonourable members (Chief Effiong Johnson (Mbo), Felicia Bassey (Okobo), Elder Effiong Bassey (Oron/Udung Uko) and Asuquo Archibong (Urue Offong/Oruko) over the criminal and broad day light attempt to balkanize their ancestral lands by their paymaster before their very eyes in the name of legislation.
Their total quietness over the matter, shows conspiracy, breach of public trust, lack of accountability and transparency. Therefore, the entire youth of Oro Nation hereby unequivocally and categorically declare and move A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE on them over their inability to rise to the occasion of defending their Fatherland in times like this.
Furthermore, the Coalition of Oro Youth has fumed seriously at the deafening silence of our Political leaders and some critical stakeholders over the vexed matter that threatens our collective existence.
Accordingly, the youth has promised that going forward they shall pay unscheduled invasion to their homes and comfort zones.
1.9 ATTEMPT TO PUSH ORO NATION TO EXTINCTION
We have observed with dismay and utter disappointment all the plans of Mr Udom to subject Oro people into extinction, this attempts are clearly manifested in the deliberate negligence of the only major access road leading to Oro Nation (Nsit Attai/Okobo/ Oron road) for over 8 years.
Deliberate attempt to relocate Ibaka Deep Seaport from the over 17m natural depth IBAKA BAY to a dug-out port to favour his current boundary adjustment plans.
Deliberate refusal of Governor Udom Emmanuel to gazette Oro Nation as Crude Oil and Natural gas bearing Communities.
The youth of Oro hereby without mincing words reject everything concerning the obnoxious and Draconian law that seeks to execute the discontinuity and deterritorialization of our God-given coastlines.
It is settled nature that anywhere boundaries have been arbitrarily redrawn; whether it is in Palestine, in the Middle East Ukraine in Europe, Ikot Umo Essien or Oku Iboku in Akwa Ibom State, conflict invariably ensues. Conflict is usually adorned by violence, destruction and death. This should exercise the mind of anybody who insists on strong arm remapping, as a means of redefining the old and settled boundaries of Ibeno, Obolo and Mbo Local Government territories. That person or group is deliberately introducing acute social dislocations into our communities and thereby courting physical and karmic consequence for such wickedness upon their generations.
The Elders, youth and people of Oron Nation are peace loving, they do not covet their neighbours territories and have therefore remained at peace with them. Let it be known however, that we are also appropriately wired and capable to defend our God given territory.
WE APPEAL TO THOSE WHO ARE BLESSED WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF OUR STATE AND PLEAD THAT THEY SHOULD ENSURE THAT NO ONE, BY ANY ACT OF OMISSION OR COMMISSION, SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO INTRODUCE CONFLICT AND BLOODSHED, THE END AND CONSEQUENCES OF WHICH ARE UNPREDICTABLE, INTO COMMUNITIES WHERE THERE HAS BEEN PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE.
NOTHING CAN FIRE UP VIOLENT SELF-HELP MORE ACUTELY THAN CALLOUS AND ARBITRARY REDEFINITION OR “REMAPPING” OF ANY HUMAN TERRITORIES ANYWHERE, SUCH AS IS BEING ILLEGALLY ATTEMPTED IN THE THREE LITTORAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS MENTIONED ABOVE
Since The 23rd of September, 1967 and after over sixteen governments manned by seasoned administrators over a period of fifty six years; from Brigadier General Udokaha Jacob Esuene in 1967, to that of deacon Udom Emmanuel which will end in less than six days, it is quite clear that all the governments, from those of the cross river state through those of Akwa Ibom State, know and have the records of the delimiting lines of every community in their States. that is how they have been administering the communities over these times. Our years of peaceful co-existence and the map from the office of the surveyor general of the federation leaves no one in any doubt of this fact.
Again, we want to leave no one in doubt, that we stand united in vehemently rejecting the contrived law for remapping and boundary adjustment which affects only the littoral Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State. We call upon all relevant stakeholders, especially the State government, to respect our rights, safeguard our coastlines, and uphold the principles of justice and fairness for all the PEOPLES of this State by respecting existing and settled ancient boundaries.
On behalf of the Coalition of Oro Youth:
Dr Akaiso Oboho
Ag. International President
Essu Nlap Oro.
Comr. John Bassey
Ag. International President
Oron Union Youth Wing.
Engr Edet Eyo MNSE
President Oro Youth Movement (OYOM)