The community of Ikot Effanga Mkpa in Cross River State’s Calabar Municipality Council has accused federal and state government agencies of neglect and land grabbing.
Members of the Ikot Effanga Mkpa Town Council, which serves as the host community for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs’ Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), expressed displeasure with the way the community had been treated and threatened to take action to rectify the situation.
Effanga Ineng Effanga, the town council leader, led a five-member team to allege that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC marginalized the community in the recently concluded employment, despite the fact that they were promised ten slots, and that not a single slot was allotted to the host community.
They also expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the Cross River Basin Development Authority, the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and the Cross River State Dump Site were all within their jurisdiction but provided no benefit to them.
They threatened to halt the commissioning of the ministry’s secretariat, claiming that it was not adhering to the local content principle in terms of employment and non-implementation of pledges, despite the fact that its secretariat was located in the Ikot Effanga Mkpa town council.
They also claimed that the Basin Development Authority had failed to hire anyone from the community, despite the fact that the Town Council had approached the agency.
Attempts to reach officials at the agencies were unsuccessful, but a director at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, who simply identified himself as Okorie, declined to comment on the matter, claiming that as a civil servant, he was unable to speak to the press.
They said the dumpsite, which is managed by the Calabar City Urban Development Authority (CUDA), has become a major source of ill-health for residents in the area because of the unhealthy ways and manner in which refuse is dumped in the area, which usually causes health hazards.
According to Effanga, the state Ministry of the Environment promised to recycle and generate wealth from the site, but nothing has happened so far.
They also accused the state government of land grabbing in the community, claiming that it seized parcels E1 and E2 in Ikot Effanga Mkpa without paying the town council compensation.
However, in response to some of the concerns, Christian Ita, Special Adviser to Governor Benedict Ayade on Media and Publicity, said that while development had not reached that point at the time the dumpsite was established, alternative locations for the dumpsite’s relocation were being considered in light of the current situation.
He denied that the government was grabbing land, claiming that the government has the authority to appropriate land for development purposes in the best interests of the state and its people.