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African Integration Festival Unites Nigeria, Benin Republic

Security agents in Benin Republic and Nigeria have identified the African Integration Festival as an instrument of peace, unity and regional integration

Security agents in Benin Republic and Nigeria have started using the African Integration Festival to establish an atmosphere for cultural exchange and dynamic partnership, for the sharing of cultural values as tools of peace and integration.

With their quest for total regional integration, inhabitants of the borderline are building plans to build synergies that will make tangible the founding fathers of dream of Economic Communities of West Africa States, ECOWAS, and African Union, AU.

In his speech during a colloquium tagged ‘‘Peace And Security, Tools To Cross-Border Cooperation’’ held at the Idiroko Border recently, the Executive Producer, African Integration Festival, Mr. Bonny Botoku, disclosed that peace and security are crucial ingredients needed for the development of every nation. Botoku said, ‘‘it becomes compelling to the security agents in Benin Republic, Federal Republic of Nigeria and the inhabitants of our borderline to build synergies that will make tangible the founding fathers of dream of Economic Communities of West Africa States, ECOWAS, and African Union, AU”.

Botoku who is also the Secretary General of Nigeria and Benin Inter- Border Peace and Security Forum, further revealed that the objective of the forum is to reinforce the various acts of collaboration that transpired within the border activities, adding that it is also meant to promote good neighbourliness and facilitation of international trade across boundaries as enshrined in the ECOWAS protocol. he said, ‘‘The idea of African Integration Festival came to existence in 2010 after the two borderline locals governments in Nigeria and Rep Benin, had deliberated on sourcing for a cultural platform to further enhance the cross-border cooperation of the two countries.

He added, ‘‘The first edition tagged ‘’together against child trafficking’’ took place at Idiroko in 2010, the second and third ‘’No to violence done to women’’ and ‘’Peace and Justice’’ were held in Cotonou, Rep.

Benin in 2011 and 2012, while the 4th and 5th were held in Abeokuta and Idiroko respectively. ‘‘With the 6th edition which focused on Peace and Security that will enable a continuous sensitization on peace and integration of our two friend and brother countries, Nigeria and Benin. We solicit for the support of all Africans, in order to ensure that come year 2020, African people and her Diaspora will begin improving exchange of their cultural values and work together to make them, tools of peace and integrations.’’

The security agents between the two countries, who were present at the colloquium agreed to work toward ensuring peace and security within the borderlines.

They however urged the government of the two countries to formulate and executive policies including job creation and promotion of cultural which would foster peace within the two countries. Oba John Olakunle-Ojo, The Oniko of Iko-Idiroko Land, who was at the conference with his wife Olori Olubunmi Olakunle-Ojo, urged the security agents present at the conference to strengthen working relationship to ensure peace and trade within the border communities.

According to him Rep. Benin and Nigeria share so many things in common which must be sustained to ensure brotherliness. Commending the efforts of the organizer of the festival, he however urged the security agents to support the objective of borderless Africa nations. He further promised all the spiritual and moral support to the sustenance of peace within the two countries.

The event had in attendance security officials from Nigeria and Republic of Benin, including the representatives of the Nigerian Customs, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Arm Forces, The Department of State Security Service,Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services, The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, and Customs and Immigration officials from Republic of Benin. In another development, the event team moved tourists and participants from seven Africa countries, after the colloquium in Idiroko, Nigeria to Songhai Centre, in Port-Novo, Republic of Benin for the grand finale of the 6th Miss Integration Beauty Pageant. The participants at the pageant, were selected from different Africa countries including Nigeria, Central Africa Republic, Rep. Benin, Mali, Congo-Brazzaville, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Gabon.

In a keenly contested competition, Nigerian representative, Miss Amaechi Precious, twenty year-old, undergraduate of Houdegbe North American University, Rep. Benin, emerged winner of the Miss Integration 2015 beauty pageant in the early hours of Sunday, at the event which took place at the pool side of Songhai Hotel.

She won the grand prize of N500,000 CFA, a weekend in Songhai with products from Songhai. She also won a trip to an ECOWAS country, BLU Android phone and make-up kits and training.While Ingrid Judith representative of Rep. Benin and Valencia Djimtombaye, Central Africa Republic emerged first and secondtry new things and they like to spend money and that is everything that can buy tourism”.

Dubai is equally the easiest country for Nigeria to get a visa to. Ones you buy your ticket and you go to a travel agency; 48 hours you have your visa. Dubai makes it very easy. What they need is your passport copy. They don’t need the two hundred million documents that US Ambassador and UK Ambassador will ask for. “It is a mini easy process”, she hinted.

“The participant we come with are best with what they do but you have to realized that in Dubai we have 200 5Star hotels and they are all excellent but these are just the one that are exceptional notice to make themselves available. The next time we participate in Akwaaba it could be triple this many participant because these ones came with greater experience and of great contact and they will go out and show that in Dubai we have many potentials that can drive tourism”, she stressed.

– Ebere Chibuzor

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