The Ijaw National Congress (INC), says it will resist ongoing efforts to redraw the map of Akwa Ibom aimed to realign Ijaw settlements across seven of the 31 local governments in the state.
INC, the pan Ijaw socio-cultural organization, and pressure group dismissed claims advanced by promoters of the project as false, baseless and mischievous.
INC said that claims that Akwa Ibom has no map and hence the need to draw a map by the state government was a ploy to realign settlements in the state to bring communities into Ijaw settlements who are oil bearing communities.
Prof Benjamin Okaba, President of INC who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said Ijaws across the Niger Delta region are being mobilised to halt plans to further marginainalise Ijaws in Akwa Ibom.
Okaba regretted that some interest groups who are not comfortable with the natural endowments of oil and gas in Ijaw settlements in Akwa Ibom want to use government machinery to distort Ijaw settlements and create boundary crisis.
According to Okaba, it is regrettable that while the INC is in the struggle to reverse the marginalisation of the Niger Delta region in the Nigerian context, the people of the region were busy marginalising their kinsmen.
The Ijaw leader who described the plot as ‘internal colonisation’ said that it was both illegal and unconstitutional for a state government to delve into mapping and boundary adjustments which are clearly on the exclusive legislative list.
He explained that mapping and boundary adjustments were clearly the role of the Federal Government and the responsibility of the Surveyor General of the Federation and the National Boundary Commission respectively.
“It is laughable that people are claiming that the state of Akwa Ibom created some 35 years ago has no map, when the major requirement for state creation is a map.
“How then did the constituencies delineation take place if there is not map, on what basis does Akwa Ibom get its revenue from the federation account?
“The state of Akwa Ibom also won cases bordering on oil wells with neighbouring states at the Supreme Court and the map of the state tendered as evidence formed the basis of the verdict and the maps are still in the records,” Okaba said.
He said the INC would take every necessary step to support and protect the economic interest of Ijaws in Akwa Ibom in their quest to benefit from the three per cent host community fund in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
“I want to place it on records that the government of Akwa Ibom will have the entire Ijaw nation to contend with on this, Ijaws may be minority in Akwa Ibom but we are majority in Niger Delta,” Okaba said.
He urged the state government to comply to a subsisting court judgement in favour of the Ijaw communities and jettison the idea in the interest of peace