By Joy Odor
In a bold move to ensure lasting peace in Toto Local Government Area of the state, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, says his administration will send a bill to the State House of Assembly, to give legal backing to the executive order creating the Turunku chiefdom.
Engineer Sule made this known during a meeting brokered by the Governor to bring lasting peace in Toto Local Government area, which held at the Government House, on Thursday.
According to the Governor, the only way to legalise the creation of the Turunku chiefdom through an executive order passed at the twilight of the past administration of Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura, is to send a bill to the House of assembly and to pass it into a law.
Engineer Sule therefore urged critical stakeholders, especially from the Egbira and Bassa ethnic extractions, to seize the opportunity of the public hearing to be conducted, with a view to resolving the matter for good.
The Governor however warned that the entire process will have to follow a stipulated timeline, in order to allow for the passage of the law, as well as allow for the displaced Bassa people to return to their villages.
“I won’t have a problem with whatever the people of Toto agreed upon, I will sign off. Nobody is taking sides but we have to follow this things logically, lawfully and peacefully, so that at the end of the day, we will all agree,” the Governor stated.
While thanking participants at the peace meeting for showing commitment to peaceful coexistence, the Governor restated the conviction of his administration that progress can only be achieved in an atmosphere of peace.
Engineer Sule explained that other critical stakeholders from Toto LGA were invited for the meeting, aside the Ohimege Opanda and the Aguma Bassa, alongside their teams, because it has taken a long period, almost 20 years, for an opportunity for the aggrieved parties to discuss their differences.
“I believe strongly, if we are very sincere, about the peace, we will be able to resolve this and move on. But we can’t say we are sincere, if we are not able to sit down and discuss openly and tell each other the truth. That’s the whole essence of this meeting,” he said.
The Governor noted that the Turunku chiefdom created by the previous administration was done in order to bring peace to the area, stressing that the executive order creating the chiefdom clearly stated that the essence of restricting the chiefdom to a particular area, is so that when there is peace, the people can discuss further.
“My greatest joy is to see peace in every part of Nasarawa State and I don’t intend to force that peace on anyone, without understanding what are the challenges, what are the issues and implications,” he stated.
Engineer Sule expressed serious concern about the plight of the Bassa people presently living in displaced persons camps, saying the speedy resolution of the crisis, will facilitate the quick return of the displaced persons to their villages.
Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi, earlier in his address, said the assembly, as well as the state government, are resolved to finding lasting peace in Toto Local Government area.
“We in Toto LGA are more than ready to embrace peace. We are known as peacemakers. But it’s always my prayer that whoever will not promote peace, whoever will not embrace peace in Toto LGA, God will take care of him,” the speaker said.
On his part, the Ohimege Opanda, HRH Alhaji Usman Abdullahi, hoped that it should be the last time they are meeting to bring lasting peace in Toto LGA, urging those people that believe that violence is the solution to their demands, to put that aside.
According to the royal father, what the agitators didn’t get by peace, they won’t it get through crisis.
“We cannot say that Bassa people will not come back to that area, never. They will come back to the area, they know their villages, everybody should go back to their villages. We have to agree that there is going to be peace and everybody should go back to his village freely” the Ohimege Opanda said.
The royal father however urged the state Ministry of Justice to put up a peace pact to be signed by both parties, warning that anyone that violates the peace agreement, should be sanctioned by government.
The peace meeting which was at the instance of the state government, had in attendance all critical stakeholders from Toto Local Government Area, as well as representatives of all the major ethnic groups in the area namely Egbira, Bassa, Gbagyi, Gede and Hausa.