Member representing Bakassi, Akpabuyo and Calabar South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Essien Ayi, has called for the establishment of Bakassi Development Commission to give succour to the displaced Bakasi people.
In an interview at the weekend, Ayi said the only option left for the federal government on the Bakassi issue “is for the creation of the Bakassi Development Commission. That commission should have a life span of about 10 years and I believe that within 10 years, we should be able to rebuild Bakassi and resettle the people properly.”
His words: “What is happening in Bakassi today is not as a result of the making of the people of Bakassi but as a result of the poor handling by the government and their team of lawyers at the International Court of Justice (ICJ)… people were more interested on how much they can make for themselves.
“What annoys me most is that the country is very busy trying to rebuild the north East and abandoning Bakassi. The devastation of the North East has been the product of the so called Boko Haram who are themselves Nigerians trying to destroy Nigeria. The government is bent on rebuilding that area to the extent of setting up a North East Development Commission. But for Bakassi that was ceded not because of the making of the people of Bakassi, government is not doing anything about it.
“I feel so bad about how the matter is being handled. Sometimes I feel as if we are not all Nigerians because if we are all Nigerians, we should be treated equally. But when you give preferential treatment to certain areas, I become very uncomfortable.”
On efforts he made to avoid the ceding, Ayi said he moved four motions at the floor of the House and laid the blame of the ceding and inability to go for review of the ICJ judgement on the doorsteps of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
“Apart from meetings and other personal efforts, I moved about four motions on the Bakassi issue. These include motion to stop ceding of Bakassi, motion for the proper resettlement of Bakassi people. The motion for the review of the ICJ judgement was moved by me and at the end when everything had failed, I moved another motion for a referendum for the people of Bakassi to decide where they want to belong.
“All those motions passed through but none was implemented by the government and now we are calling for the establishment of the Bakassi Development Commission. It is either they give us the commission or we decide whether we will belong to Nigeria or not. I am moving this as a bill and it is going through the first reading.”
He also called on the federal government to restructure the country, saying restructuring would help the country tackle its socio-political and economic challenges, explaining, “restructuring is the solution to almost all, if not all, our challenges. We must pursue restructuring in all ramifications.”
While accusing the federal government of committing much resources to building what Boko Haram had destroyed, noting: “ same Nigerians from the Northern part of Nigeria are busy destroying and government is creating Northeast Development Commission and forgetting about Bakassi people who never had a hand in their predicament, and they say we are one Nigeria, how can we be one Nigeria. It is either we restructure or we split.”