An international donor agency, United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has raised the alarm over an imminent conflict situation in Akwa Ibom State, identifying youths unemployment, poverty and other economic variables as being responsible for the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes in the state.
USAID team leader in the state, Mr. Borve Paago-Imabel, in an interview with newsmen on the level of accountability, transparency and effectiveness in the state, expressed worry that such problems could threaten the prevailing peace ahead of 2023 elections, if not addressed.
He called for a holistic action plan by the government and non-state actors, including the traditional and religious institutions, among other critical stakeholders, to tackle the problems head-on.
Reacting, the state government through the Information and Strategy Commissioner, Ini Ememobong, faulted the USAID team leader’s assertion that the unemployment was fuelling insecurity in the state.
Ememobong said: “I am not aware of the document or research he is basing his conclusion on, but I do know that in the United States, where his organisation emanates, insecurity is higher than the one in Akwa Ibom.
“He should be aware that this is Nigeria’s safest state and security is an ongoing process. We address security challenges as they emerge. And the government is ensuring that its primary responsibility, which is the protection of lives and property does not take the back seat.”
Paago-Imabel, earlier said: “Conflict assessment reveals a lot of issues in the state. One major issue that was found is the role of unemployment and that may directly lead to poverty, so people are agitated.
“Another one is land dispute, and there seem to be a lot of communal land disputes in the state, which lead to a lot of issues, which are noticed across the various regions of the state.
“Another issue agitating is location of Ibom Deep Seaport and what all these points to is that, it is only pertinent for government to sit down and re-plan its security and peace building architecture to be able to address these complains.
“If you travel beyond the state, Akwa Ibom is adjudged as one of the most peaceful in Nigeria, but that doesn’t remove Akwa Ibom from experiencing its measures of conflicts.
“The government has to be more deliberate in actualising the industrialisation policy, which this present administration has designed for itself as an umbrella for cushioning the issues in the society.”
Paago-Imabel stated that USAID had teamed up with the state government to develop key strategies to provide effective implementation of key policies and programmes of government, especially in the area of budget.