SENATOR who represented Cross River South Senatorial District between 1999 and 2003 Florence Ita-Giwa has urged the Nigerian government to resettle displaced Bakassi residents, saying that it is a step needed to resolve the nation’s security challenges.
Ita-Giwa described the treatment of Bakassi residents by the Nigerian government as unfair while speaking at a webinar organised by The ICIR titled, Solving Nigeria’s Security Conundrum: A Pan Nigerian Approach on Wednesday.
“Bakassi was also one of the oil-producing areas. And for an area that co-produced the wealth of this country to be treated like that, it’s very, very unfair,” she said.
The Senator said the treatment of the residents by the government was a major cause of insecurity within the southern region of Nigeria, which would have escalated but for combined efforts between herself and the State Governor Ben Ayade.
“I’m leading a people who till today do not have where to call their home. If we did not struggle to get what is known as the Nigerian Voters Card, we would have been described by the UN as stateless.
“If the boys take up arms and come out like their other counterparts, you won’t blame them. But we had to, over the years, manage them,” she said.
Nigeria had relinquished claims on Bakassi and handed it over to Cameroon following the ruling by the International Court of Justice in 2002.
Thousands of Nigerian residents in Bakassi had moved back to Nigeria based on the assurance by the government to address issues concerning their welfare, shelter and sources of livelihood.
Unfortunately, thousands of residents have remained displaced and yet to be resettled.
The Senator identified a political disconnect as another cause of insecurity, stating that the political leaders had no interest in the welfare of the masses.
She recommended that a pattern of voting be introduced which would bridge the gap between the leaders and the people. She also urged the government to address the suffering of the entire Niger Delta as a means of addressing the nation’s security challenges.