Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Saturday called on communities embroiled in boundary dispute, which has led to crises and loss of lives to embrace peace to pave way for meaningful development.
Okowa made the call at the funeral of late Professor Abednego Ekoko at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Uzere in Isoko South Local Government Area of the state.
He said that no land was worth the life of any individual and urged Isoko people to embrace peace in honour of late Ekoko who was an accomplished boundary scholar.
According to him, all Isoko people can be united if you hold on to God and extend love and friendship among yourselves.
Okowa said Ekoko contributed immensely to the peaceful resolution of crises in many communities and therefore charge his people to end strife and tread the path of peace in memory of the deceased peacemaker.
The governor recalled that Ekoko played vital role in the resolution of Aladja-Ogbe-Ijoh crisis and other boundary issues in the state and across the country when he served as National Commissioner, National Boundaries Commission.
He said “on behalf of my family and the government and people of Delta, I extend my condolences to the Ekoko family of Uzere on the passing of our father, brother and friend.
“We thank God for what is happening today on the day a peaceful man is being laid to rest. Professor Ekoko achieved all that he truly needed to achieve and today we are celebrating his life of great accomplishments.
“In everything he found himself doing he excelled and he taught my wife at the postgraduate level and has impacted directly on my family.
“In the community, he rose to achieve the highest honour in the land and beyond serving God, he served Nigeria at our national governance and through various appointments in the state.
“He was a special appointee of our state government as Executive Assistant (Boundary Matters).
“He was indeed a boundary scholar and I can attest to the fact that he contributed immensely to the peace we have in Aladja-Ogbe-Ijoh today.
“As Isoko people, let us honour Ekoko at his death by embracing peace. There are a lot of boundary disputes and communal crises in Isoko which ought not to be.
“In honour of the death of a boundary scholar that worked for peace in many communities, let us stop fighting and live peacefully.”
He counselled the people to eschew bitterness, especially over land matters, saying “when you fight because of land and for the sake of land destroy lives, those lives you destroyed you cannot recreate them when you settle.
“No land is worth the life of anyone and as leaders and elders, we ought to handover things that will connote peace and development and not crisis.
“I hope that the sermon spoken to us today will touch our lives for a change in honour of the late Ekoko.”
Okowa urged the leadership of Isoko Development Union and the Christian community to organise a collective prayer to rededicate Isokoland to God.
“It is a time for us to examine our faith, a time for self-introspection and reconciliation, and we must realise that it’s only in love the Isoko nation can be built to a greater nation.
“The charge from Christ is for us to reexamine ourselves and it is not too late to start,” he added.
Earlier in his sermon, Bishop of Oleh Diocese (Anglican Communion), Rt. Rev. John Aruakpor, said that late Professor Ekoko was a man who worked for peace across the country.
He described him as a man who was an addicted singer and worshipper of God, adding that his death was a great loss to christendom.
The bishop said that Ekoko worshipped God even through pains and sickness.
He urged Christians to live in peace and shun the spirit of bitterness and acrimony which had pervaded the land in recent years.
“As politicians, it is only when we are united that we can attract dividends of democracy to our land,” he said.
The service which featured prayers for the cleansing of Isoko land, attracted numerous dignitaries from the academia and was also attended by Senator James Manager, Senator Stella Omu; former Minister of Works, Chief Mike Onolememen and Mr Victor Nwokolo of the House of Representatives among others.