Crisis is brewing in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom over the ceding of no fewer than 17 oil-bearing communities to three other local government areas in the state.
The three prospective beneficiaries are Onna, Ikot Abasi and Mkpat Enin.
This has forced the Obolos, the Andoni-speaking area of the state to raise the alarm, protesting what they described as “Emmanuel’s deliberate plan to drive us into the Atlantic Ocean.”
The affected communities with several oil wells include Atabrikang, Iko, Edonwik, Okorombokho, Elekpong, Elile, Amadaka, Ikonta and Obianga.
Others are Amauka, Okorobilom, Uzubor, Isiotoyo, Amanglass, Bethlehem, Iwofe as well as other parts of Okoroette, the council’s headquarters.
Addressing newsmen on the matter at the weekend, Dr Amah William, the Secretary-General of Ilima, a socio- cultural organisation working for promotion of ideals and welfare of Eastern Obolo people in Akwa Ibom state, explained that “the new geographical map approved by governor Udom Emmanuel, has distorted the original map of Eastern Obolo Local Government Area.”
According to Amah, the tinkered map has ceded the affected communities to neighbouring local government areas of Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi and Onna, where governor Udom Emmanuel hails from.
He recalled that trouble started “When the state House of Assembly had, in a resolution, mandated the Surveyor-General of the state to produce a ‘generally acceptable, approved and gazetted map for the state.”
Amah said the state Assembly had resolved that governor Emmanuel, upon approval of the new map should immediately gazette it as the official map of the state government.
He described the move as not only “unconstitutional but manifestly mischievous and calculated land grabbing strategy” which would never succeed.
Amah explained that the ceding of the affected communities would confer on the beneficiaries comprising Onna, Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi the status of “littoral Local Government Areas” with unfettered access to the Atlantic Ocean at the determent of Eastern Obolo being the original owners.
“The purported new Akwa Ibom state map clearly and adversely affects the original map of Eastern Obolo LGA. By the said map, several Eastern Obolo communities such as Atabrikang, Iko, Edonwik, Okorombokho, Elekpong, Elile, Amadaka, Ikonta, Obianga, Amauka, Okorobilom, Uzubor, Isiotoyo, Amanglass, Bethlehem, Iwofe, and even parts of Okoroete have been ceded to Onna, Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi LGAs.
“By this purported alterations and adjustment of the original map of Akwa Ibom State, Onna, Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi LGAs will now become a littoral LGAs with unfettered access to the Atlantic Ocean; a vain imagination that will never come to passed as the Lord Almighty liveth.”
“For the purpose of clarity, Eastern Obolo and Mbo are the only littoral local government areas bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in Akwa Ibom State. Eastern Obolo alone has more than 56 oil Wells located within it territorial precincts. This is a fact that has never been disputed.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that the so-called remapping or adjustment of the original map of Akwa Ibom State as it relates to Eastern Obolo is not only illegal and unconstitutional but manifestly mischievous, divisive, discriminatory, repugnant to the good conscience and a calculated land grabbing strategy which has failed ab-initio.”
“The purported boundary adjustment is a flagrant contravention of Section 8 sub-section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. We want to state unequivocally that the purported adjustment of the map of Akwa Ibom State as it affects Eastern Obolo LGA is null, void, illegal, unconstitutional and of no effect as you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.”
While stressing that the people would resist such attempt to distort their historical heritage, he called on Governor Udom Emmanuel to disregard what he called “unpopular and anti-people resolution of the state legislators and direct the state Surveyor-General to stop further steps of altering the map of Eastern Obolo.
Responding, Akwa Ibom House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Information, Hon Aniefiok Denis (Etinan) said the resolution was borne out of the concern and grievances from people of Akwa Ibom State, adding that the house urged the relevant bodies to ensure that a concise map is produced and gazetted for the state.
He said: “The house was concerned because of such agitations and grievances which led to the resolution that an acceptable map should be drawn to ensure that there is peace in Akwa Ibom State.
“The House urged relevant bodies which are in charge of remapping to ensure that an acceptable and concise map is produced and gazetted for the State.”
He urged the people to direct their complaints to the office of the Surveyor-General of the state, adding that “it is not the duty of the state House of Assembly to produce map.”