Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State on Wednesday received the Report of the Peace, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation Committee on the warring communities of Ebom/Ebijaghara and Ediba/Usumutong in the Abi Local Government Area of the state.
The committee was inaugurated by the governor in May this year with former Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba as Chairman.
While receiving the report at the Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Calabar, Ayade praised the committee for turning in its Report in record time.
According to the governor, “Let it be on record that this is the first time a government-inaugurated committee will work within the time limits. I never doubted the capacity of Senator Ndoma-Egba. I am very sure that when I set up this committee with him as Chairman, I was convinced not just because he is a senator or a Senior Advocate of Nigeria but his personal commitment to every responsibility that he set his hands on.”
The governor extended the tenure of the committee with a new task of fashioning out the method of government intervention in the troubled communities.
“I have listened to you very clearly. I think the fundamental issue being raised here is the issue of infrastructure. We will sit down and look at the provision of land, decide on social housing structure. The commencement of the detailed design of the road network and all of that has to be worked out.
“And because this committee has done so very well and because you have worked within the time limit, I want to also extend the tenure and provide new terms of reference for this same team. Firstly, to provide me with a concept design by hiring the relevant consultant to give me the design.
“Secondly, to provide for me a social housing master plan for the entire Ebijaghara in the first instance. Thirdly, whether water supply is needed and fourthly to provide us a general detail of the infrastructure under discourse particularly in terms of providing me with the physical design that I can on the basis of that document initiate either deploy the construction and fabrication academy of Cross River to commence this project or by way of a subcontract.”
On his part, Senator Ndoma Egba recalled that the governor had stated while inaugurating the committee that “it was in response from the Almighty God because the amount of bloodshed has reached an unacceptable limit and level of destruction had become cataclysmic.”
He said the governor was right because “the committee visited the scenes of crises and while we did not see signs of blood again arising from the passage of time, we actually saw scenes of devastation and ruins, especially in the areas hitherto occupied by the Ebijaghara community and Usumutong.”
He said the Committee’s recommendations if implemented, will heal wounds and bring lasting peace, adding that the warring communities which are under the Bahumuno nation are crises fatigued and now yearn for sustainable peace and have on their own initiated and signed peace accord even before the committee’s intervention.
Some of the highlights of the committee’s recommendations include urgent, massive infrastructural intervention in the area, including the construction of about 39-kilometre road linking the warring communities and collection of data of the youths in the area.
The committee also called for government’s recognition of the Bahumuno Peace and Development Union and Bahumuno Youth council, describing them as critical stakeholders in peacebuilding in the Bahumuno nation.