May 28, 2024

The Oyo State Government, on Monday, hosted a One-Day workshop in collaboration with National Boundary Commission for the creation of Platform for Local Border Authorities along Nigeria, Benin International Boundary.

The one-day workshop, themed, ‘Transforming Borders from Barriers of Separation to Bridges of Cooperation and Integration held at Pentorise event centre, Bodija Ibadan, also had in attendance the Deputy Governor of Ogun state, Engineer Noimot Salako, as well as the deputy governors of Niger state; Lagos state; Kwara state and Kebbi State who were all represented.

In his welcome address, the Deputy Governor of Oyo state, Barrister Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Lawal, who also doubles as the State’s Chairman of Boundary Committee, preached synergy between Nigeria and Benin Republic.

He said the One-Day workshop is the best time for transforming Borders Barrier of Separation to Bridges of Cooperation and Integration.

According to him, the workshop is no other time than now when our country is experiencing a high level of insecurity, kidnapping and communal disputes, which is threatening the unity and peaceful coexistence of our dear country.

The Deputy Governor highlighted that the major objective of Boundary definition among others, is for determination of the extent of a territory for economic exploration, administrative convenience, equitable distribution of resources and internal security.

He equally asserted that the states sharing boundaries with Benin Republic must try and unite, integrate, as the federal government is working on ECOWAS passport to enhance movement within Africa.

While urging the NBC to quickly come up with act of parliament in a way that budgetary provision can be increased to cater for challenges such as light, roads among others, he noted that the bill presentation will tackle challenges of insecurity, infrastructure among others along the borders.

He said: “Oyo State belongs to the states that have boundaries with Benin Republic. The Nigeria Benin Republic Boundary is 770km long featuring Land and Marine Borders’.

“It is equally important to note that out of the 770km boundary, Oyo State has 85.3km stretch of the boundary and have relationship with Communities in Benin Republic. The Local Government in Oyo State that bordered the Benin Community are Saki West, Atisbo and Iwajowa.

“The State gives due recognition to implementation of “Building our future together” Agenda and by implication strengthens our relationship and internal security towards creating a better tomorrow”

“I urge all participants to actively engage in the discussions, exchange ideas, and build networks that will endure beyond this workshop. Let us collectively embrace the vision of transforming borders from barriers of separation to bridges of cooperation and integration.

“Once again, I welcome you all to the Ancient City of Ibadan, the state capital. As a Government and people, We look forward to more fulfilling deliberations and resolution for the best interest of all our people.

“I extend a warm welcome to all participants, and I wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful workshop.”

On her part, the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Engr. Noimot Salako, bemoaned the suffering of the residents of border communities while emphasising that the state government is ready to provide the necessary support to ensure the security of lives and properties.

She added that cross border trades is very important emphasizing the need for NBC to create a platform and policy that will support the border communities and not just to be taking them as hostile.

She said: “We need to have a solution where we don’t have to criminalize the border communities. We have to work together to make sure that these people go on with their own life and also obey the rule of law.

“In Ogun state, we have three local governments that shares borders and we do have complaints as we look forward for the issues to be resolved to be able to deal with socio issues.

“I thank you all and we hope we can have this continuous dialogue to make sure that the lives of people are protected”, she said.

However, in their separate remarks, the representatives of other Deputy Governors, pledged their readiness to adopt a policy to protect lives and properties through community relation, trades and investment opportunity for the greatness of Nigerians.

Royal fathers from various states who also attended the event said that the whole Oyo national park is highly monitored, urging NBC to come up with a policy that will further secure lives and properties of Nigerians.

They equally called for federal government to have kits to be able to tame those with firearms from border community whilst calling for a strong barrack at checking points of borders.

The Okere of Saki, Oba Khalid Oyeniyi Olabisi, who maintained that there are still some communities in Benin Republic who are speaking Yoruba, however noted that they are all brothers until colonial master separated them.

He advocated for government interventions in local governments that shares boundaries with Benin Republic such as hospitals, good roads, telecommunications and other essential projects that will develop border communities, adding that they deserved to be treated equally and specially.

He, however, commended the Government of Oyo state for waging war against illegal minners, stressing that people have been living peacefully in the state under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde.

Earlier in his remarks, the Director General, National Boundary Commission, Surveyor Adamu Adaji, appreciated Governor Seyi Makinde and his Deputy, Barrister Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Lawal for the wonderful arrangement and warm reception accorded them since their arrival in Ibadan.

He noted that the workshop was designed to improve trans-border relations between composite regions and local Border Authorities as well as the traditional rulers along the Nigeria-Benin International Boundary.

Adding that the workshop couldn’t have come at a better time owing to the rising challenges of insecurity along borders and the desire for economic cooperation and integration across borders of the African continent, he stressed that NBC collective desire for Nigeria’s security and economic prosperity as well as the well being of Nigerians can not be overemphasized.

The event was attended by members of Nigeria Customs, Immigration, Police and other security agencies who assured of a needed support to strengthen the security of lives and property in the border communities.

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