The Government of Ekiti is committed to peaceful coexistence and friendly resolution of border disputes with neighboring countries.
During the two days’ meeting held by the National Boundary (NBC) and committees at the fringes of the southwest zone, the Deputy Governor Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi gave an assurance.
The meeting took place in Abeokuta, the capital of the State of Ogun.
The forum was attended by chairmen of the Boundary Committees (SBCs) in their respective states in a speech made by the Deputy Governor’s special adjutant Odunayo Ogonmola (media).
Other vice governors who took part in the parley included Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Mr Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo), Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, Mr. Benedict Alabi, (Osun), and Dr. Hamzat (Lagos). The representatives were Alabi and Hamzat.
The NBC Director General Adamu Adaji and the Federation’s Surveyor-General Adeniran Taiwo, who were chaired by the distinguished historian and border expert Professor Anthony Asiwaju, delivered papers during the plenary session.
The six Southwest States have decided to develop a better approach for managing border disputes, preventing them from gaining strength, killing lives and property that could hamper development and investment.
In addressing the meeting, Otunba Egbeyemi said the government acknowledged that peaceful relations with neighboring countries are vital for the growth and economic and social development of border communities.
Otunba Egbeyemi said it is important for stakeholders to always engage in dialog without enabling border disputes to lead to scarmic events in their description of land issues in Nigeria as highly sensitive and volatile.
He said: “We (Ekiti) are committed to peaceful coexistence with neighbouring states. Our traditional rulers and community leaders have always been proactive in bringing such issues to our attention which we have attended to with dispatch.
“We have intervened in disputes between Osan Ekiti in Moba Local Government of Ekiti State and Ilale in Oke Ero Local Government of Kwara State and between Okemesi Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government of Ekiti State and Ila Orangun in Ila Local Government of Osun State.
“This wouldn’t have been achieved if not for the cooperation received from the concerned neighbouring states. Our coming together in this forum will engender peace and development in our states. We should maintain a cordial relationship with ourselves.”
Ogun Governor, Prince Abiodun, acknowledged that NBC’s strategic role in the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Nigeria could delay the development of borders and discourage investors.
He said: “This Interactive Session provides veritable opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas towards resolving boundary disputes in our States.
“We are neighbours and we must live together in peace. For example, you cannot get to Lagos State without passing through Ogun State.
“Boundary disputes in Southwest have not been unmanageable because we all belong to the Yoruba extraction and we were together at one time. It is important to adopt peaceful means to resolve issues.”
Similar interactive sessions were reported by the NBC boss in four other geopolitical areas: North-west, north-east, north-central and south-east.
He stressed the need to clearly distinguish, map and not only show stakeholders but also respect internal boundaries for all parties concerned.
In order to fulfill their statutory functions, Adaji called on NBC to synergize with SBCs for their proper and timely funds.
The Federal Surveyor General, Mr. Taiwo, suggested continuous awareness among the public, involvement of individuals in decision-making, improved country-wide infrastructure, and appropriate border maintenance legislation as panacea of border dispute.
The President of the plenary, Prof. Asiwaju, described the borders between Nigerian States as artificial and urged the people not to divide them.
He observed that the colonial masters, who divided them without regard for cultural, ethnic and lingual ties that had linked them centuries earlier, had suffered similar fate from African countries.
Professor Asivaju suggested that traditional leaders’ areas of prescribed authority are well defined with the instruments of their appointments to help reduce tension at the start and end of their kingdoms.
The scientist urged political leaders to use ongoing dialog and other mechanisms to build peace and settle conflicts to resolve border disputes and prevent them from leading to senseless killings.