By Jonathan Ugbal
A former Governor of Cross River State, Chief Clement Ebri has said that the key to curbing the resurging communal conflicts across the state lies in the government of the day being proactive and not reactive to the underlying issues.
Ebri stated this Wednesday in Calabar during an interactive session with members of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) where he posited that given the situations on ground, being reactive to issues will further worsen the situation than solve it.
He said that: “Our people especially in the local areas have a very short fuse. The slightest thing provokes anger. What I did as governor then; I always visit the communities as soon as the crisis begins, read the riot and put in place the machinery to prevent any further clashes.
“I remember the Idomi, Ugep and one other area had this crisis and I waded in but what I noticed today is that nobody visits these places; people just fight, kill themselves and a few policemen are sent and after a while, everybody disperses and the proper machinery is not put in place to starve off all these things.
“I think that it is important because Nko had a problem, a panel was set up after several months, there is no white paper up till now; no one is been invited to do anything. And, you see, that is the problem, you must be proactive. You must nip these things in the bud.”
He stressed the need for acting on time and blamed the worsening situation on negligence of duty.
He averred that: “Most of these things brew with security agents all around. I am sure DSS and others write reports. One has to follow up on these reports.
“There is no crisis I bet you that has not had some of this antecedent that something happened, a report was lodged and then you allowed them and the thing gets into a full blown war.
“I think it is proactivity that we need; strengthen our intelligence agencies and also ensure that the chiefs and the leaders of those communities take full charge of the situation in these places,” Ebri said.
CrossRiverWatch had reported recently that Cross River now has the highest number of communal conflicts. And, Ebri said youth restiveness was a major factor to deal with and called on government engage them in positive ways.
“There is no doubt also that the youth are getting more restive. Graduates are at home now, there are more intelligent. They know how to source for arms,” Ebri said, adding that: “Look at the issue of codeine now. Codeine that in those says was something taken for headaches has now become something of opium for the masses.
“You are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Those social ills can easily be curbed if there is some level of proactivity; there is some engagement of the youths. You have to engage them and wean them out of that mentality.
“It is the duty of government to generate this kind of activities or things that will eventually curb that menace.”
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