The National Boundary Commission (NBC) and its Benin Republic counterpart have embarked on joint campaign towards cementing the bond between both countries, prior to the colonial rule.
The campaign took place at Kosu Bosu, Baruten local government Area of Kwara section of the Nigeria-Benin International Boundary.
This is contained in a statement by the Director-General of NBC, Mr Adamu Adaji and issued by the Head of information Unit, Mrs Efe Ovuakporie on Wednesday in Abuja.
Socio-cultural activities such as sports were featured as part of its efforts to promote peaceful co-existence between the dwellers along the international boundary of the two countries.
Adaji, during the exercise, noted that lack of a clear-cut demarcation of the boundary between the two countries had contributed to the issues of claims and counter claims by the border communities.
Adaji said it also led to insecurity along the border corridors, adding that bad elements had capitalised 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.
“This ugly situation has significantly disrupted genuine economic activities amongst the border dwellers; 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 countries must join hands and rise up to the challenges posed by these criminal elements that threaten their economies, peace, security and stability,” Adaji said.
According to the NBC boss, to achieve this goal, there is the need to swiftly address the issue of the recognised boundary that constitutes the administrative limits of the two countries.
Adaji assured that both countries were not resting on their oars, but working assiduously to resolve the non-clarity of the boundary, to determine where lies the administrative limit.
He noted that in spite of the separation of kith and kins in Nigeria and Benin Republic by administrative boundaries done by the colonial masters, the people have continued to relate and interact through inter-marriages and other social economic activities.
He, however, stressed that the people must strive to maintain this cordiality and not allow the inherited boundaries to create barriers amongst them.
Adaji further maintained that African countries must seek closer ties and cooperation to increase opportunity for trade and development as well as form alliance capable of mitigating the negative influence of globalisation.
The NBC boss stated that Africa must reduce the weight of its borders, adding that the border communities were considered as gatekeepers to the nation and also constituted the building blocks for cooperation.
He enjoined the communities to continue to play pivotal roles in ensuring the welfare and protection of the border residents.
“The responsibility of delivering peace and security in our borderlands is not the responsibility of the federal agencies alone, but also the local authorities, traditional rulers, as well as the youth, women and community leaders,” he said.
The statement also reported his Benin Republic counterpart, the Director-General, ABeGIEF, Mr Marcel Baglo, saying that the artificial boundaries created by the Europeans were traps that have 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 was everyone’s business, and everyone should play a part in alerting the security official when necessary.
He commended the NBC for its continuous efforts in fostering peace and unity between both countries.
Also, the Emir of Okuta, Abubakar Idris lauded the initiative of the use of culture and sporting activities to strengthen the bond between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Idris said that the two border communities spoke the same language, had the same culture and tradition.
He, therefore, canvassed that the sensitisation programme be extended to the provision of basic amenities and infrastructure development of the communities.
The emir stated that border insecurities had threatened both sides, and he had intervened severally to ensure peace amongst the communities.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Baruten local government, Mr. Abdurasheed Lafia, applauded the several interventions of the NBC.
He encouraged it not to relent in the efforts until they attained full restoration of peace in the area.