The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has identified traditional rulers as the brains behind the successful stoppage of militancy in the Niger Delta as well as truncation of the secession plot by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in the South East, adding that their involvement led to relative peace in the two regions.
Speaking on Wednesday at the opening of the 10th National Development Summit of Nigerian Traditional Rulers, in Abuja, the Vice President noted that monarchs have played crucial roles at points when Nigeria was threatened by Niger Delta militants and the IPOB.
He challenged monarchs in Nigeria to take greater responsibility in resolving conflicts, pointing out that dialogue and engagements are just as important as law enforcement in tackling disputes.
According to Osinbajo, “Traditional rulers are better placed to champion this vision of continuing dialogue and engagement because of the respect you command from the widest possible range of stakeholders and parties.
“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.”
He stated that although security agencies are critical elements in checking criminality and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice, overlooking the place of non-coercive conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms would do a great disservice to the people of Nigeria.
“You are also repositories of important intelligence that can be useful in detecting suspicious or criminal activity. The partnership between traditional authority and government is therefore crucial,” he said.
Osinbajo explained that it was against this background that government co-opted the monarchs in its approach in dealing with Nigeria’s most pressing security issues in the Niger Delta and in the Middle Belt.
“I can say without fear of contradiction that the New Vision for the Niger Delta would 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.”