Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has emphasised the importance of dialogue and engagement by all citizens to complement law enforcement in ensuring national unity and cohesion.
Osinbajo said this on Wednesday in a remark at the National Development Summit of Traditional Rulers in Abuja with the theme: “Make Nigeria Great Again’’.
He was reacting to the demand of the summit that government should do all within its powers to curb incessant killings in different parts of the country.
“Dialogue and engagement are just as important as law enforcement, especially in situations triggered by misunderstandings and disagreements between people and communities who have existed peacefully side-by-side for centuries.
“In that capacity, your Royal Highnesses, have always played a crucial role.
“First, as the effective authorities at the local level, and I say effective in the sense of de facto authority, by virtue of the fact that our communities look up to and revere the traditional institutions.
“In that capacity, none is better placed than our Royal, institutions to champion this vision of continuing dialogue and engagement because of the respect you command from the widest possible range of stakeholders and parties.’’
According to Osinbajo, the country’s greatness can only appear in atmosphere of peace and security and this will largely depend on the collaboration between government and the traditional rulers.
He described the monarchs as repositories of important intelligence that could be useful in detecting suspicious or criminal activity, adding “the partnership between traditional authority and government is therefore crucial.’’
Osinbajo said that such partnership influenced government’s approach to dealing with Nigeria’s most pressing security issues, “from the swamps of the Niger Delta, where our new vision has started yielding tangible dividends, to the grasslands of the Middle Belt.’’
“I can say without fear of contradiction that the new vision for the Niger Delta will not have happened without the support of traditional rulers and leaders in the region.
“We have made it a priority to meet with them and carry them along, and ask for their wisdom and their support in resolving issues with stakeholders and communities.
“This was also our approach in the wake of secessionist agitation by IPOB in the South East,’’ he said.
Osinbajo said that government was also engaging traditional rulers in the flash-point areas of the North Central region.
He said that the administration was counting heavily on the influence the traditional institutions to chart a new and collective course of understanding, instead of the default approach of resorting to violence as a way of dealing with grievances.
“As custodians of our rich history, we also believe that you have a duty to remind us of the things we have got right in the past, but from which, for some reason or another, we have departed from, to our detriment,’’ he said.
Osinbajo noted that many of the country’s traditional cultures had long ago perfected timeless dispute-resolution and community-engagement mechanisms that were now under threat of being lost forever.
He reminded them that as traditional rulers, their forebears and ancestors were the initiators and implementers of many of those mechanisms, “while our cultural institutions has evolved ways of passing the knowledge down the generations.
“May I therefore most respectfully ask that you take this as a call to you as royal fathers as traditional rulers as elder statesmen.
“To commit yourselves to deepening your partnership with government, to achieve our shared goal of laying the foundation of peace and security that will guarantee true greatness for Nigeria.
“On our part, we will continue to seek your wisdom, and listen to you, and explore ways and means of strengthening your place in Nigeria’s governance structures,’’ the VP assured.
Osinbajo described the theme of the summit as both inspirational and rhetorical as it reminded participants of the great hopes and deeds of the heroes past “and challenges us to more phenomenal achievements’’.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Summit Governing Council, Dr Emmanuel Sideso, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, noted that the monarchs were elated about the achievements of the forum since 2008 it was established.
He said the group was satisfied that its opinion on national issues were forwarded to the Federal Government, noting that the summit was established to build bridges across ethnic and religious divides of the country.
Ovie said that the summit had made useful contributions in the fight against insurgency and corruption but as it had been self-financed since inception and its activities were hampered by paucity of funds.
He noted that the country was full of potential but its prosperity was highly dependent on the sacrifices of leaders.
According to him, the nation’s foundation is deficient and threatened, and wondered why after several national dialogues on restructuring none has the courage to undertake that mission.
He said that the people needed a new nation build on equity, justice and high moral standards which eliminates the concept of division and race.
He called for good leaders who could create and sustain jobs, build bridges, love, obedience and fairness.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the monarchs used the forum to confer the first Distinguished Leadership Award on Gombe Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo, whose representative, Rep. Ismaila Hassan, pledged to do more in governance.
The governor hailed the role of the traditional rulers as peace builders in the country and urged them not to relent. (NAN)
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