Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
The people of Offa and Erin-Ile communities in the Offa and Oyun Local Government Areas of Kwara State have decided to end their age-old intercommunal conflict and forge ahead for mutual benefit, development and growth.
The two neighbouring communities, who in the past had engaged in violent and bloody clashes, were brought together by a youth organization committed to peace and development in the area.
Speaking at a parley with the leaders of Offa and Erin-Ile in Ilorin on Thursday, the chairman of the main organizing committee of the Ladorb Peace Initiative, Umar Balogun, said that conflict had discouraged the people from realizing their potential for economic prosperity.
“In recent history, one cannot mention Offa and Erin-Ile without acknowledging the conflict between both communities,” the peacemaker said.
“It’s unfortunate that the two communities have suffered losses in such wars that had no economic value, but displaced many lives,” he said.
Balogun, who traced the ancestry of the Offa and Erin-Ile to Oduduwa – the progenitor of the Yoruba people – said that historical accounts had it that they had habitated together for years.
He said that the concern for peace made the organization to join other men and women of goodwill to find a means of put an end to the frequent clashes, adding that both communities had resolved to live together in peace and forget about the past.
The chairman also canvassed alternative dispute resolution as the best way to resolve conflict, enjoining members of both communities to embrace peace, saying that, “what unites us is bigger than the things that divide us.”
Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Erin-Ile, Oba Abdulganiyu Ajibola, commended efforts of the convener, while urging elders of the area to promote truth, open-mindedness and be conscientious in their inputs.
The ethnarch said that his people were ready for peace, adding that every stakeholder should allow peace reign to attract development and prosperity.
Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, represented by an high chief of Offa, Chief Yunusa Oyeyemi, said that the people believed in peace, adding that they had extended it to their neighbours over the years.
He appealed to the people of the areas to be candid, speak the truth and a imbibe spirit of give and take for a lasting peace.