The Kogi Government joined the rest of the world in marking the International Peace Day, appealing to all and sundry in the state to embrace peace and unity.

Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, who made the appeal in Lokoja on Friday during the Peace Day Celebration, said it was necessary to embrace peace in order to achieve developmental progress.

The event was organised by ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) in collaboration with Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID).

Bello, who was represented by Chief Edward Onoja, his Chief of Staff, said the state had gone a long way as it was recently ranked the second peaceful state from a position of 36.

According to him, only through unity you can have peace and once there is peace, there will be progress and inside progress is where you see infrastructural projects.

“It is when there is progress you can see affordable, qualitative healthcare delivery, especially for the vulnerable in the society, which include women and children.

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“When there is progress, there will be security and tranquility.

“ Once upon a time, kogi was the headquarters of kidnapping and highway robbery, this has become history.

“ Today, kogi is adjudged the second peaceful state in Nigeria from a position of 36. Without doubt, in the next year we shall be number one.’’

Bello explained that the present administration in the state had done a lot in building bridges where there were barriers.

He emphasised that there had been challenges of attacks from herdsmen and farmers, but his administration was able to resolve the menace.

“Kogi is moving in a new direction and together we must continue to sustain that new direction.

“It is not just for the good of the governor, cabinet or party but it is for the good of the people in Kogi.

“Highway robbery, communal clashes, bank robbery are things of the past and the only thing we have in kogi state is peace, unity and progress, which we must all embrace,’’ the governor said.

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Earlier, Dr Stella Adejo, Board Member of AAN, called for more support from the state government in creating an enabling environment conducive for youths to thrive.

Adejo, however, promised to strengthen its collaboration with the Kogi Government to creating a lasting peace in the state.

Also, members of a Civil Society Organisation, Mrs Eunice Agbogun, who is also the Vice Chairperson, Kogi NGO Network (KONGONET) called on youths to get focused rather than being an instrument of evil.

“Peace is a very important component to the development of any state or country and that is why today we are joining the youth to project the message of peace.

“Peace is very important because without peace you cannot have an enabling environment for development thrive.

“The message to our youth is that gone are the days when you join armed robbery or allow yourself to be negative instrument to project the selfish interest of anybody.

“We are encouraging our youths to stand for peace, do something positive and useful with their lives, and I am sure you will become whatever you want to become in life,’’ Agbogun said.

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The President, National Association of Kogi State Students (NAKOSS), Mr Omeiza Audu, commended the governor for his efforts in uniting all the ethnic groups in the state.

Audu, therefore, pledged to support the government of the state by consolidating on the peace already being enjoyed and also built on it.

In a similar vein, Mark Angel, AAN Ambassador, commended the initiative of the state government in initiating peace.

According to him, I have gone through the state to inspect the level of peace and I am impressed with what I saw compared to what it used to be in the past.

He, therefore, called on the youths to uphold and embrace the peace in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the International Peace Day is observed around the world on Sept. 21 devoted to strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and people.

Inscriptions such as: “Peace is an attitude activated by Education”, “I have the right to peace’’, “Give me education, don’t give me gun’’ were written on some of the placard for the celebration.