From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, has called on the Federal Government to join hands with the state in ensuring that the oil rich Tongeji Island, in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state, is not claimed by the neighbouring Republic of Benin.
Abiodun, who cautioned that Nigeria should learn from the Bakassi Island issue, said governments at both levels must provide social amenities for the residents of the island to prevent Benin from taking advantage of its proximity to the Tongeji and claim ownership.
The governor made the call on Thursday, in his address at the 2-day Interactive Session of the National Boundary Commission with Boundary Committees of states in the South West, held in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.
The interractive session had in attendance, the Ogun State deputy governor, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, her Lagos State counterpart, Femi Hamzat, represented by the Commissioner for Local Government, Wale Ahmed, Ondo State deputy governor, Lucky Ayedatiwa, his Oyo and Ekiti States counterparts, Rauf Olaniyan and Bisi Egbeyemi respectively. Osun State deputy governor was represented by Hon. Nathaniel Agunbiade.
Abiodun hinted that the Ogun was determined to make life more meaningful for its resident living on the Island, stressing that the Federal Government must collaborate with the state in giving the residents a sense belonging by providing access road and bridge for them amongst other infrastructural needs.
He noted that for harmonious co-existence and development in the border areas of the country, there is need for continuous use of peaceful means in resolving boundary issues.
He disclosed that the establishment of the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission was at an advanced stage, while the state was also working with Ondo to activate the Deep Sea Port project in the mutual interest of the two states and the country’s economic development.
“We can hardly talk about production or boundary that we will not be talking about land. Recently, there are lots of communal issues between herders and farmers. All these have to do with utilization of the available land. It is therefore important that all of us must continue to adopt peaceful means of resolving the boundary issues.
“The fact remains that if we do not resolve boundary issues peacefully, the people of the border communities will suffer from both ends. There will be no development in such a place and even investors will not be attracted to such locations”, he stated.
Abiodun, however, said Ogun would continue to be committed to peaceful resolutions of boundary matters, saying “it is critical to the development of the State and its neighbours”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director General, National Boundary Commission, Adamu Adaji, said the interactive session was meant to serve as a way of sensitising stakeholders on the activities of boundary managers at various levels.
He added it was also means to provide opportunity for relevant stakeholders in the zone to interface with the Commission on ways to strategize and fast-track resolutions on issues of internal boundaries.
Adaji noted that the National Boundary Commission was established as a specialised border problem solving institution to address the shortcomings of the previous ad hoc commission, submitting that the creation of more states had created many boundary issues in the country.