University lecturer and former Deputy Chief of Defence Administration, Commodore Adekunle Olawunmi(rtd), has advocated border dialogue as way to lasting peace, collaboration, mutual growth and sustainable development of volatile borders towns, many of which are in Yewa Areas of Ogun State.
The ex-defence chief, who said that border dialogue, characterized by communication and collaboration between neighboring entities, held significant potential to foster both peace and youth empowerment, added, “Synergy between border dialogue and peace and youth empowerment contributes to sustainable development and regional stability.”
Olawunmi, who is an Associate Professor of Global Counter-Terrorism at Chrisland University, Abeokuta, spoke on “Border Dialogue for Peace and Youth Empowerment in Yewaland” at the Yewa Youth Leadership Conference held at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro on Friday.
He lamented that Yewa Land in Ogun State, an agrarian area with farming, fishing, and trading being key economic activities and known for its cultural diversity and historical significance, had continued to be plaqued with complex border challenges and dynamics.
Olawunmi said, “The border challenges in Yewa Land have primarily emerged due to historical factors, shifting demographics and disputes over land ownership and boundaries. Unclear demarcation of borders and differing interpretations of historical land use have led to tensions and occasional conflicts among local communities.
“These challenges have had a notable impact on the socio-economic development of Yewa Land. Disrupted trade strained intercommunity relationships, and occasional security concerns have hindered progress and stability in the region.
“Addressing these issues requires a coordinated effort through border dialoguing involving local communities, government authorities, and relevant stakeholders to find peaceful and sustainable solutions.”
The top security expert, who said border dialogue was the way out, stated, “Border dialogue promotes mutual trust and understanding among neighboring nations, reducing the likelihood of conflicts or tensions. Border dialogue not only facilitates peaceful coexistence among neighbouring entities, but also engages youth in collaborative efforts that contribute to their empowerment.
“Border dialogue is essential for fostering understanding, addressing common challenges, and building relationships in a globalized world where borders are not only physical but also symbolic.
“Border dialogue acknowledges the shared interests and interdependencies between neighboring entities and aims to facilitate peaceful coexistence, collaboration, and mutual growth.”
The don said that border dialogue would ensure presence of the conditions that foster well-being, justice and sustainable development which will involve the youths’ active involvement, which empowers communities to address challenges, enhance well-being, and create a sustainable future.
Olawunmi listed benefits of border dialogue to include sustainable peace; strengthened relationships; economic growth and development; cultural exchange; and community empowerment.
He said, “Engaging communities in dialogue empowers them to take an active role in shaping their own future and resolving conflicts. Border dialogue is a powerful tool for building bridges, transforming conflicts, and fostering lasting peace.
“By addressing grievances, promoting understanding, and encouraging collaboration, it paves the way for harmonious coexistence and shared prosperity among communities that share borderlands.”
He further said, “The process of border dialogue involves a series of structured steps and stages aimed at facilitating open communication, understanding, and collaboration among stakeholders from neighbouring regions.”
Olawunmi outlined the process to be followed for result-oriented dialogue including, determining the key stakeholders to participate such as community leaders, government representatives, civil society organizations, and individuals directly affected by border-related issues.
He stressed that the process included outlining the goals of the dialogue, whether they focus on conflict resolution, cooperation, or other specific outcomes and as well choice of neutral facilitators or mediators who can guide discussions, ensure a balanced conversation, and maintain a respectful atmosphere”.