CHONKU, ASA RESETTLEMENT COMMITTEE IS MAKING PROGRESS
Edward Ajibauka is the Chairman of Resettlement Committee on Chonku and Asa Communities. In this interview, he explained what is causing the delay in the execution of its assignment and the progress they have made so far. He spoke with Williams Ayooso.
It’s over two months now and the committee on resettlement of Chonku and Asa Chiefdoms is yet to submit its report, what is the problem?
The Governor directed us to resettle the people in Chonku and Asa Chiefdoms. He also directed that we should create layout of plots in those two chiefdoms and allocate the plots to people. When we went to survey Chonku, we discovered that the Tiv people had farmed maize and yams inside Chonku town. The yam and the maize were still on the ridges. So we had to give consideration to people that have farmed there. We decided to give them time to enable them harvest their farm produce before we go into action.
What about other areas in Asa, where people had not farmed on the land, have you started the resettlement process there?
The people in those places want to go back and they have decided that they want to go and settle in one place that is almost central to all the villages around that area but unfortunately, the area they had chosen had no road linking to it. So it was not easy for our surveyor to go there and survey the area. So we decided that if we must do a good job, we must provide access road to the place and also clear the area for them, so that the land and survey will go and do layouts. If they finished they will give it to us or the two chiefs of the two chiefdoms who will in turn allocate plots of land to their subjects.
So we have embarked on the road project. We have cleared the road to that place; we have equally cleared the town itself. What is left now is to take the surveys there to demarcate the area. I have already communicated the Survey General to send his people or workers to go for the job and he promised doing the job next week by God’s grace. So that is what we are doing.
What does allocating of plots got to do with the resettlement process, when all that is needed is create an enabling environment for the people to go back to their original homes?
We are given the instruction by the State Governor who set the committee. He said he want all the IDPS to go back to their chiefdoms and settle with their chiefs who will give them plots of land where we are demarcating.
Does it mean nobody can come back and settle in a particular place he was residing before unless the place he is allocated?
The issue of someone going to his former place or non-former place does not arise now, government work is government work. If what the Governor want is done, he will look at the advantages and disadvantages. Where the advantages overweight the disadvantages he will go by it and vice versa so that it does not create difficulties to the people. I believe the governor has the interest of people in mind too. He is also a human being and this has affected human beings not animals.
Looking at the terms of reference, there are certain things that the committee has to go back and report to the governor about its findings. Do you see yourself doing that very soon?
As to when we are going to submit our interim report is between the committee and the Governor and no any other person’s business. The report is going to the Governor directly. So any report that is for the governor and is yet to go to him, to me, it cannot be discussed because in a way I will be preempting the report.
Am not saying you should preempt the content of the report, am just asking about the time line of operation of the committee. So when is the committee submitting its report?
Any time it is ready.
We heard that some IDPs, who returned to Tor-Iorshagher were attacked and four people were killed. Do you feel they would have waited for your committee to finish its findings and resettle them. As a stake holder, how do you feel?
The people that are affected, be it Tiv, Hausa or Jukun belong to me. The governor has entrusted that job on me. He has confidence in me and I must give him a correct job. But if as a resettlement committee has not resettle you, you just decided to resettle yourself, is that correct? Personally, neither Jukun, Tiv or an individual or group have reported to me that something happened to him or them in Asa or Chonkwu. So it will be very difficult for me to comment further on that.
Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation you are getting from the IDPs in Chonkwu and Asa?
In any assignment there are challenges. There is no assignment that is just a wake over. But in all the challenges, one get to learn more in order to serve his people better. It is when you get challenges that you arrive at better ways of effectively resolving issues which will be of help to your people. In any case, I will not share the challenges with you. Just exercise patience when we finally submit our report to the governor you will get to know many things. We too want to give the governor a rest of mind. We don’t want him to develop high blood pressure. So we are trying our best to give him information so that he can give us the next direction.