Gov. Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State has lauded Alhaji Adamu Abdul Loko for organising sports competition to foster peace and unity between border communities in Nasarawa and Benue states.
Al-Makura gave the commendation on Tuesday in Loko in Nasarawa State while receiving a Leadership Award of Excellence on Peace Promotion.
Our correspondent reports that the event was commemorated with a unity football competition between Loko United of Nasarawa State and Agatu United of Benue.
The competition was sponsored by a philanthropist and the Turakin Loko, Adamu Abdul Loko,
Represented by Bamaiyi Anangba, the Commissioner of Youth and Sports, Al-Makura said that the Turakin Loko Unity football competition had fostered lasting peace and unity among the peoples of Loko, Agatu and herdsmen in the affected communities.
“Sports are a valuable tool for national integration and apart from physical well-being; sports can play an important role for a safer, more prosperous and more peaceful society through its educational values and worldwide network.
“What I have seen today is very wonderful and I am happy because we have very serious minded people who want peace in this land and the state at large.
“As we can see now, both the people of Loko, Agatu and our Fulani people are jubilating which shows that peace has returned permanently to this area.
“We are commending Turakin Loko’s gesture because the gesture will foster peace and unity as only God will reward him.
“We urge him to continue with the gesture in order to sustain peace in the area,’’ he said.
The governor restated his administration’s commitment to support any individual who initiated good policies and programmes that would promote peace and add value to the lives of its citizenry.
Also, the Emir of Loko in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abubakar Ahmed Sabo, commended the Turakin Loko for his humanitarian gesture.
Sabo, who is the Mai Loko and a first class traditional ruler, urged the people of his domain, herdsmen and Agatu people from Benue to continue to live in peace and tolerate one another.
He said that it was only in an atmosphere of peace that development could thrive for the people to enjoy more dividends of democracy and the fruit of their labour.
Earlier, Abdul Loko, said that he decided to organise the competition between the two affected communities to foster unity and peaceful co-existence among them for the overall development of the state.
“What prompted me to organise this unity football competition was to complement Gov. Tanko Al-Makura and Gov. Samuel Ortom’s efforts in bringing lasting peace to Loko and Agatu communities following persistent boundary clashes since 2014 to early 2017.
“The competition has also provided an avenue for the two communities, farmers, herdsmen and other people to interact and to exchange positive ideas and pleasantries.
“It is also to make the youth to discover their hidden talents as well as reduce youths’ restiveness in my area and the state at large,’’ he said.
He noted that on the field of play in any sports competition, there was no permanent enemy.
“Football is one of the unifying factors as far as peace and unity is concerned.
“This competition has brought together and united the Agatu/Loko farmers and herdsmen, especially the youth irrespective of their ethnic, religious and political affiliation,’’ he said.
Our correspondent reports that Gov. Ortom and Alhaji Buderi Tija, Ardo of Fulani in Loko community both received leadership awards of excellence in handling the protracted crisis between the affected communities.
Ortom was represented by the House Leader of Agatu Local Government Council, Mr Halidu Yusuf Sule.
Our correspondent also reports that the event was attended by traditional and religious leaders, politicians and well-wishers, including Gov. Al-Makura’s Special Adviser on Security, Dr Mohammed Umar, elected councilors from Agatu local government council among others.
Loko United defeated Agatu United 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time.