Wole Adedeji, Ilorin
The University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) has opened up a settlement for Fulani herdsmen as well as commenced building a school for them at a location outside the institution’s campus.
A statement from the University’s Corporate Affairs office, on Monday, said the move was in fulfillment of the resolve and commitment of the institution to conflict resolution and peaceful co-existence especially with herdsmen living on the University land .
Similarly, the institution has begun sinking a borehole at the new settlement near Okunle Village, Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State.
At the turning of the sod of the two projects, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, said that the process of relocating the Fulani herdsmen from the University land was initiated by one of his predecessors whom he ha gave a big credit to.
Prof. Abdulkareem thanked the Okunle and Orioke communities for releasing five hectares of their land for the Fulani resettlement exercise.
The Vice-Chancellor said, “We still want the Fulani to be our neighbours but they cannot illegally occupy government land”, stressing; “we are, however, your partner in progress and we will still continue our relationship with you”.
He encouraged them to patronize the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of the University from time to time.
Prof. Abdulkareem promised that the primary school, when completed, would provide quality teaching to the children of the Fulanis and their neighbours because according to him, teachers from the University would be assigned to teach there.
The Vice-Chancellor thanked the University Council for graciously approving the cost of the resettlement as well as the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari for his mediatory role and likewise the community leaders for their understanding and cooperation.
He called on the Fulani to preach the spirit of togetherness in their day-to-day activities as their children interact with other children in the community while praying God to reward everyone who had made such landmark occasion possible.
In his remarks, the Emir of Ilorin, who was represented by the Magaji Aare of Ilorin, Alhaji Shuaib Aremu Zubair, charged the herdsmen to be peaceful and law-abiding, warning that there should be no report of any wrongdoing from their camp.
He pointed out that the University of Ilorin had gone through much stress and commitment to ensure that the Fulani were successfully resettled.
Also speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. B. F. Sule, who is the Chairman of the Resettlement Project Steering Committee, disclosed that the Vice-Chancellor, on his assumption of office, called for a speedy implementation of the peace agreement, which he said led to several meetings with the community leaders and the stakeholders.
Prof. Sule submitted that the University had fulfilled its own side of the agreement by drilling a borehole in the community aside the one being drilled in the Fulani settlement, adding that money had also been paid to the community for the development.
The Director-General of the Kwara State Bureau of Lands, Alhaji Ibrahim Salman, who also spoke at the occasion pleaded with the community to accept the Fulani and live in peace with them.
Alhaji Salman commended the University of Ilorin for putting up a standard school for the herdsmen and the promise to provide quality teachers from the University to teach in the school, adding that the school belongs to the community as well as the Fulani who are newly resettled there.
A major highlight of the occasion was the presentation of cheques for various sums of money to the two Fulani groups and the Opolo community.
The Vice-Chancellor and other dignitaries later took turns to lay the foundation stones of the block of classrooms.