By Jonathan Ugbal Follow @NaijaJonathan
The member representing Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi federal constituency in the national assembly, Mr. Essien Ayi has accused the former Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on national assembly matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa of scuttling the successful resettlement of the Bakassi returnees following the ceding of the peninsula to Cameroon.
Mr. Ayi made the accusation Thursday morning while speaking as a guest on a breakfast show on Hit 95.9 FM Calabar where he said that following the handing over of the peninsula to Cameroon under very suspicious circumstances, he had secured an appointment to meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo alongside former Governors Donald Duke, Liyel Imoke among others to discuss the issue but Ita-Giwa masterminded the cancelling of the appointment which would have seen the issue of the resettlement discussed and lasting solutions proferred.
He said that: “I secured an appointment to meet with the then President which he graciously approved.
“We met in the government house and the then Governor Donald Duke and former Governor Liyel Imoke were there and they said that there was need for us to go as a team and make this our case before the President.
“Distinguished Senator Giwa did not agree. We had overwhelmingly accepted that we should meet with the President.
“We all arrived Abuja and to our surprise, the Distinguished Senator went to the President and cancelled the appointment. This things I am saying you can ask anybody.”
He said this did not deter him from moving a motion on the floor of the House of Representatives for the resettlement, but, this became a front for misappropriation of funds.
“I moved a motion for proper resettlement of the people of Bakassi and even though I said that it was only one billion Naira was in the budget for resettlement which was grossly inadequate.
“And, I remember the then Speaker Bankole saying that how can you say that one billion is grossly inadequate? And I said how can it not be grossly inadequate in a terrain like Bakassi that is just like Bayelsa, can it build road? can it build hospital.
“The first resettlement committee, I was a member, the distinguished Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw was a member, we did not even know that money was released. Later on, we discovered that one billion Naira was released for the initial take off of the main program, that was led to the building of that resettlement camp which is now inhabited by hoodlums because no Bakassi indigene is an inhabitant of that resettlement camp.
“And we now heard that part of the money was used for the cable car in the ranch, part of the money was used for Marina resort to the detriment of the people of Bakassi who were displaced.
“They set up another resettlement committee which we were removed maybe because we were vocal on how the money was being applied. That was headed by Senator Giwa.
“We never had any response. I kept saying that in every budget of the national assembly that is been sent to the national assembly, I have not seen anywhere that they said funds are being allocated for the resettlement of Bakassi.
“Some people felt I was been jealous of them and I said for me I have made my own case as a representative and that committee failed.
“The third committee was set up by the then Deputy Governor, Barrister Efiok Cobham and I kept saying there is no budgetary provisions and he said that it was under the Vice Presidency (of) Namadi Sambo.
“There is no budgetary provision for the resettlement of Bakassi and until you the end of the lifetime of that committee, nothing tangible came out,” Ayi said.
Ayi who is a fourth term member of the House of Representatives, is facing serious threat from his protégé who is the deputy speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr. Joseph Bassey (PDP, Calabar South 2).
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.