Bakassi Returnees Register For Project 'Hope And Comfort'


CALABAR, June 27, (THEWILL) - About one thousand families have so far been registered in on-going biometric exercise for the project "Hope and Comfort" initiated by the Cross River State Government to provide succor to the displaced persons from the ceded Bakassi Peninsular.

The State Commissioner for Social Welfare and Community Development, Mrs. Edak Iwuchukwu disclosed the figure while fielding questions in an interview on the third day of the weeklong exercise at the resettlement camp at Ekpri Obutong in Bakassi Local Government Area.

She said that the returnee beneficiaries are indigenes of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States that are yet to stabilize to earn a living after their return and or displacement from their former means of livelihood which was principally fishing in the now Cameroon Republic.

Iwuchukwu explained that the project "Comfort" is a deliberate effort of the State Government to provide financial stipends to families with children of school age to enable them to be educated in the nearby primary schools at a value of N5, 000.00 monthly with N7, 000.00 reserved as savings.

The Commissioner further said that the programme would cater for the vocational training of the beneficiaries such that they can have alternative means of livelihood so as to earn a living.

She lauded the efforts of the traditional institution that has assisted enormously in mobilizing the people to turn out enmasse for the registration noting that the number has been increasing by the day since the commencement.

The government, she said is committed to ensuring that priority is accorded to the education of the children so as to facilitate a brighter future to the families of the displaced persons in view of their poor background.

Some of those registered for the relief package who spoke differently to journalists lauded the effort of the government in striving to resettlement even as they sought for more assistance.

The Youth Leader and the General Co-ordinator of the Bakassi Returnees Forum, Mr. Innocent Asuquo Bassey thanked Governor Liyel Imoke for redeeming his pledge after the last visit to the camp by providing succor for them.

He called on the Government to provide more dependable means and support to the parents of the displaced children so that they can retain their status as breadwinners for their respective families.

Also speaking, a returnee clergyman, Evangelist Elijah Effiong narrated how he has not been able to further his divine call to serve but with the hope that the latest effort of the Government will restore confidence among believers of the Christian faith that all was not lost after all.

A lady, Ms. Misper Salvation and an indigene of Bayelsa State exuded confidence that the latest registration appears to be more deliberate in view of its sophisticated method and the attention so far exhibited by the Commissioner that has devoted more time for supervision.