…As Otuekong Ekefre points finger to an Uyo Lawmaker over unruly behavior
By Divine Sam:-
The University of Uyo host community comprises of about 10 villages in ‘Offot Usung Ifiayong’, Offot clan in Uyo Local Government Area has cautioned the member representing Uyo in the state house of Assembly Hon. Anietie Eka to stay-off from aiding the Institution to take more land than what was allocated to the institution.
In an inspection led by Otuekong Enefiok Ekefre, the University landlords gave the caution on Friday, 6th May, 2020, during a meeting said to have been convened by the Paramount Ruler of Uyo, HRM Edidem Sylvanus Okon at his Palace following a report by the University Landlords over claiming more of their land by the institution.
According to reports, the meeting was summoned by the Paramount Ruler of the area Edidem Okon to find possible solutions to the ongoing crisis between the university authority and its host communities. The reports also revealed that invitations for the meeting were sent to the University Authority, prominent Indigenes of Uyo, and other stakeholders in the State including the commissioner for Lands, Architect Ime Ekpo, State Surveyor General and Acting Chairman of Uyo, Hon. Udeme Emmanuel who turned up for the meeting.
The Lawmaker who didn’t show up at the meeting was said to have sent a message to the Paramount Ruler, ordering him to stand down the meeting as the matter was to be settled at the government level, even as the host communities were not contacted or seek their consent.
Meanwhile, Elder Ekefre while addressing the gathering explained that mediation in every crisis is always between the competing interest. He wonders how the Lawmaker can mediate with the Uniuyo authority when the Landlords were not carried along in the process.
“How can he mediate with the University when we are not there? Is it the university of Uyo that would decide to us how our land would be shared? Does he own a plot of land there? Or does the land situated in Etoi?
Nelson Mandela once said; is not that he really likes violence or resistance. It’s because the land is a critical asset of every community or a country. Mandela fought the habitat government of South Africa because of the land reformed and equality. Even in Nigeria, the Federal government attaches importance to land, and that is why they have the Land Boundary Committee at the Federal and State level.
The Member representing Uyo State Constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is there with our sovereignty. He was not there because he went to the university to study the lawmaking or pass lawmaking examination. We gave him the mandate and he must treat us with respect.”
“You can’t barb someone’s hair when the owner is not around. Those complaining about their land are from ‘Offot Usung Ifiayong’, and he’s from Etoi. Uyo is made up of 4 clans and the House Member can not decide for ‘Offot Usung Ifiayong’ people without their consent. The guideline for democratic governance says that “nobody can rule anybody without the consent of the people”.
“For him to ordered that a meeting of that nature that has to do with the crisis between the communities and the university to be stand down proved that he has no regard and respect to the Paramount Ruler of Uyo and the traditional institution”.
“The crisis, if not because the Paramount Ruler and other well-meaning citizens of the community intervened and tell everybody to maintain peace, could have led to an unpleasant situation that might even result in bloodshed.
“With the mere fact that Offot Ukwa people jointly surrendered their sovereignty to him and based on traditional values and understanding considering the rotation among the four clans, that is not the license for abuse. Offot Ukwa people are the landlords of the University. The House Member does not own ancestral land in that place. He’s not from Offot or Offot Usung Ifiayong.
For that reason, he knows little or nothing about the boundary and how the community land was allocated to the university authority many years ago.
“For him to said that the matter would be handled at the governmental level, to me he’s a ‘busy body’. If he knows the crisis was on for a long time and couldn’t be solved; why didn’t he raised the matter at the floor of the House of Assembly as an issue of fundamental importance or issue affected his constituents?
“I want to advise him that Parliamentary works are not done on ‘Facebook’, or birthday party, or wedding ceremony. It’s done on the floor of the house. I don’t blame him because for him to have the mind to send a message to the Paramount Ruler, ordering the Paramount Ruler to stand down the meeting that he would not attend the meeting proved that he has no respect for the elders. I’m reminding him that there would be a time again that he would return to this same palace for a blessing. I am a member of this palace and I would never allow anybody to demean the high office of the Paramount Ruler of Uyo. Some years ago, a highly respected Paramount Ruler of Uyo was from his clan, Etoi (Late Edidem Cyril Nyong) and nobody across the four clans treated him with disrespect. I don’t know why the Present Edidem and his Council should be treated with disrespect”.
“The House of Assembly is a sub-set to the traditional institution because members of the House of Assembly has a stipulated tenure and the Paramount Ruler don’t have because he is the custodian of tradition and values of the people. Paramount Rulers in a normal setting are equitable to the Queen of England who is the representative of the ruling House of Winsor. Also in Nigeria, Paramount Rulers are equitable to Sultan of Sokoto, Obong of Calabar, Obi of Onitsha, Ooni of Ife, and Oba of Lagos and other places where people are disciplined and organized, they respect traditional rulers. As I have stated; I have never seen or heard a member of the House of Assembly calling the aforementioned traditional rulers on phone or gives instruction on a day to day running of traditional administration in the palace”.
“The President of the Country and Governors all over Nigeria have respect and regards for traditional institutions. Even in our dear State, Deacon Udom Emmanuel is a living example.
But here, a member of the house of Assembly is ordering the Paramount Ruler to stand down a meeting that has to do with the welfare of the people. The office of the Paramount Ruler must be treated with respect”.
Speaking further, Otuekong Ekefre noted that the State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel has never mandated anybody to implements illegal justice, asserting that the Offot Usung Ifiayong are ready to oppose whoever attempt to use government’s cover to perpetuate the acts that would not promote peaceful coexistence between the University and the Landlords. “we would move against any unfavorable decision and impunity” – he stated.
At the meeting, the Paramount Ruler, Edidem Sylvanus Okon appealed to the Communities for calm. He stressed that the matter concerns the communities, adding that about 10 villages including Emman Ikot Ebo allocated that lands to University. He said it was right for them to be included in every step made to ensure peaceful coexistence.
The monarch called on the village heads and other leaders of the respected villages to control and talk to their subjects for peace to be maintained.
Also speaking during the meeting was the State Commissioner for Land, Arch. Ime Ekpo who assured that the government was working toward achieving peace for the host community and the University, urging the university landlords to be calm and peaceful.