THE Bakassi People’s General Assembly has dissociated itself from the recent declaration of a sovereign state of Bakassi, saying the problem confronting the people will not be tackled by a declaration of independence but by acceleration of their resettlement in the location of their choice.
The Bakassi Self-Determination Front (BSDF) had recently declared independence of Bakassi and hoisted its blue, white and red flag with 11 stars on the blue colour and set up a radio station, Dayspring Radio, which began transmission on August 6 on 4.2MHz and 5.2MHz band.
But addressing a press conference in Lagos yesterday, the Bakassi general assembly, which is led by former Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, said the people of Bakassi had no intention to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We completely dissociate ourselves from the purported declaration of a Sovereign State of Bakassi. It is our view that the issue confronting us is not served by a declaration of independence but by accelerating the resettlement of our people in the location of our choice. We have no intention to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the group said in a statement read by Ita-Giwa and signed by 21 Bakassi leaders.
The group advised against any form of violence with regard to the Bakassi issue, saying “this will further exacerbate the already delicate security issues confronting the nation. We are Nigerians and descendants of the Efik Kingdom of Calabar in Cross River State.
“Our concern primarily is to ensure that our people are given a permanent abode; not to delve into controversial issues that would hardly yield any positive impact towards that goal. This mindset defines our reaction to the motion at the House of Representatives seeking a review of the International Court of Justice ruling that ceded Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun. Of course it would be a pleasant surprise if any campaign returns us to our ancestral homes, yet we do not think that such effort should overshadow the need to permanently resettle our people. The need is of immediate nature whereas the possibility of a reversal of the ICJ verdict is more or less a remote hope that lies in the distant future even though it has all its merits.”
Ita-Giwa demanded urgent and expeditious development of the unceded parts of Bakassi known as Day Spring Island 1 and 2 as well as Kwa Island for the comprehensive resettlement of Bakassi indigenes whom she said have since 2006 been roaming around hopelessly.
“It is our contention that this responsibility be carried out forthwith by the Federal Government and the United Nations as well as all countries that were signatories to the Green Tree Agreement. We make a legitimate demand on the Federal Government to initiate a programme of ‘Accelerated Human Capacity Development’ of the people of Bakassi, especially the youth in the same way the Federal Government has treated ex-militants in the amnesty programme,” she added.
She also condemned the “systematic marginalisation of Bakassi people with regard to top federal and state government appointments” and demanded that “qualified Bakassi indigenes who abound be immediately appointed to top positions in federal and state government establishments as they are bonafide Nigerians and Cross Riverians.”
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