The outgoing Commander of 13 Brigade in Calabar, Brig-Gen Ismaila Isa, says security challenges in
Cross River state have been surmounted and that his successor would sustain the momentum.
This was disclosed at the send-forth ceremony for the General at the brigade in Calabar and reception for the incoming Brigade Commander, Brig-Gen C.O.C. Ekwunibe.
Speaking to journalists at the event after he thanked officers and men for their support during his tenure, Gen Isa, who assumed duties at the brigade on 12 June, 2017, explained his experience as Brigade Commander in Calabar.
According to him, “as military men we are always trained to expect the worst. Incidentally I came here from Kaduna, which was also a safe place. And as I said in my speech, coming to Calabar was like homecoming. I started my military career in Ikom, at 103 Battalion. I have already been familiar with most of the security challenges, but in a new dimension now, unlike then, because it had not gotten sophisticated as it is now. In the past people were using dane guns, machetes and cutlasses. But now you have machine guns. So it is a whole new ball game. The Nigerian Army is professionally trained and going by the directive of the Chief of Army Staff, we have been able to surmount the security challenges.”
He said Cross River State “is a peculiar state. I will give you some of those peculiarities. First, it is one of the few states that you have about five military formations in it. Two, Cross River is bounded to the east by an international boundary contiguous to Cameroon.
“Then in Nigeria it is bounded by four different states. Generally, prominent among these security issues are boundary issues. You have Akwa Ibom, you have Abia, you have Ebonyi and you have Benue. You are aware of the recent problem between Obudu and Vandekia but I am happy to tell you that it was eventually resolved. You have boundary crisis in Ukele, you have the one in Arochukwu, you have the crisis between Akwa Ibom and Cross River in Itu.
“So the most prominent of these challenges are these boundary issues. The other ones are communal clashes and some of these communal clashes date back to several years. Good enough the minister of interior has visited Cross River twice over this issue of communal clashes between two different communities and steps are being taken to address them adequately.”
He had advice for the incoming commander about the boundary issues.
“The incoming commander is a seasoned officer. I have known him from my cadet days till now. Most of these issues are already on papers. What he has to do is go through the papers and the solutions that have been put forward he will follow them up. But the most important thing as regards boundary and community problems is dialogue. No matter what, fighting can never bring peace.
Even if you fight from now till tomorrow, at the end of the day, you must come down to the table and discuss issues. As human beings we have conflict within ourselves, let alone with other persons. Conflict is something that will never end. Since we know that, we have to have conflict resolution mechanisms in place to address these issues the moment they rear their heads.” The General also said the militancy in Bakassi area has been laid to rest.
“Have you heard anything about militancy of recent? There has been nothing. If they spring up again, we are waiting for them,” adding that his legacy is that he ensured that “there is peace so that economic activities can thrive, because without peace, economic activities cannot thrive.
“The bane of our society is poverty. Once people don't have money to put food on their tables, some of them are so frustrated that they resort to violence. But if we are able to bring down this restiveness and crisis and economic activities thrive, people will have more money in their pockets and it will enable more people come into our country and reduce the number of those leaving the country.”
How PDP, Ayade Won Obudu By-Election Victory
Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade has claimed the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mrs Abbey Ukpukpen in the Obudu State Constituency by-election for the Cross River State House of Assembly.
The election was conducted on Saturday after which Mrs Ukpukpen was declared winner with 12,712 votes. Her closest opponent from the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adah Ishamali got 4,345 votes.
Speaking after the candidate of his party was declared winner by the Returning Ffficer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tony Eyang, Ayade, who also voted in the election, said: “The election was more of a referendum on my acceptability and my stewardship to my people. There couldn't be any more resounding affirmation than this from my people.
“Basically it is more or less like a referendum because my state house member representing Obudu State Constituency in the Cross River House of Assembly died suddenly and so, the bye-election held yesterday (Saturday 11 August). So, it is a validation of my own service.”
Indeed, it would have been politically disastrous if the result of the election had gone the other way. That is why there was no happier person at the outcome than the governor himself.
The actual winner, Mrs Ukpukpen, is the widow of the late Stephen Ukpukpen, whose death in May led to the declaration of the seat vacant.
She is a staff of the University of Calabar where she once won the institution's beauty pageant.
The state resident electoral commissioner (REC), Dr Frankland Briyai, announced the result on Sunday in Obudu.
Other results of the election in which only four political parties took part include Awafang Angiating of Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN), who scored 132 votes to place third and Agwupuye Umeka of African Democratic Party (ADP), who scored 114 votes to place fourth.
According to Briyai, “total valid votes 17,303; rejected votes 607; total votes cast 17,910; total number of registered voters 69,908.”
He commended the electorate for the peaceful conduct of the election and urged them to conduct themselves in the same manner during the 2019 general elections.