The National Boundary Commission (NBC) and its Beninese counterpart have embarked on a joint sensitisation campaign geared towards cementing the historical bond that existed between both countries prior to colonial rule.
The campaign, which took place at Kosu Bosu, Baruten Local Government of the Kwara State sector of the Nigeria-Benin International Boundary, featured socio-cultural activities such as sporting activities as part of its efforts to promote peaceful co-existence between the dwellers along the international boundary of the two countries.
Director-General of the NBC, Surv. Adamu Adaji noted during the exercise that the lack of a clear-cut demarcation of the boundary between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin has largely contributed to the issues arising from the claims and counter claims by the border communities of both countries.
Adaji posited that the lack of demarcation of the international boundary between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin has led to the problem of insecurity along the border corridors as bad elements have capitalized on the non-clarity of the boundary to perpetuate criminal activities in the communities.
“The height of insecurity in these communities is very worrisome as the problem has become a hydra-headed monster which has proven difficult for the security agents of both countries to intervene because of the fear of crossing into the other’s sovereign territory”
He also said that this ugly situation has significantly disrupted genuine economic activities amongst the border dwellers adding that the high level of insecurity has caused both countries enormous human and material resources which are the bedrock of sustainable development.
“It is therefore pertinent that both Nigeria and Benin Republic must join hands and rise up to the challenges posed by these criminal elements that threaten the economy, peace, security and stability of both countries”.
He asserted that to achieve this goal there is the need to need to swiftly address the issue of the recognized boundary that constitute the administrative limits of the two sister nations.
Adaji assured that both the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Benin Republic were not resting on their oars but working assiduously to resolve the issue of the non-clarity of the boundary in order to determine where in lies the administrative limit.
The Director-General noted that despite the separation of kith and kins in Nigeria and Benin Republic by administrative boundaries done by the colonial masters that the people have continued to relate and interact well through inter-marriages and other social economic activities stressing that we must strive to maintain this cordiality and not allow the inherited boundaries to create barriers amongst our people.
He further maintained that African countries must seek closer ties and cooperation in order to increase opportunity for trade and development as well as form alliance capable of mitigating the negative influence of globalization insisting that African must reduce the weight of its borders. He added that the border communities are considered as gatekeepers to the nation and constitute the building blocks for cooperation.
The Director-General enjoined the communities to continue to play pivotal roles in ensuring the welfare and protection of the border communities adding “the responsibility of delivering peace and security in our borderlands in not only the responsibility of the Federal agencies but also the local authorities and traditional rulers as well as the youths, women and community leaders.
His counterpart Director-General ABeGIEF, Marcel Baglo said that the artificial boundaries created by the Europeans are traps that has caused setbacks at the border communities.
Baglo urged the border communities to overlook these traps and be involved in the process of ensuring safety stressing that security is everyone business, and everyone should play a part in alerting the security official when necessary.
He commented the NBC on its continuous efforts in fostering peace and unity between both countries.
The Emir of Okuta Alhaji Abubakar Idris lauded the initiative of the use of culture and sporting activities to strengthen the bond between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
He said that the two border communities speak the same language, have the same culture and tradition he therefore canvassed that the sensitization programme be extended to the provision of basic amenities and infrastructural development of the communities.
The Emir stated that border insecurities has threatened both sides of the border and he had severally had to intervene to ensure peace amongst the communities.
The Chairman Baruten Local Government, Hon. Abdurasheed lafia applauded the several interventions of the National Boundary Commission even as he encouraged them not to relent in its efforts until they attain full restoration of peace in the area.