Boundary issues: VP Osinbajo meets Deputy Governors

Boundary issues: VP Osinbajo meets Deputy Governors

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says the handling of boundary disputes can only be effectively done at the highest level of governance as it requires good knowledge of the issues, sincerity of purpose and sensitivity.

Professor Osinbajo stated this in his opening remarks at the meeting he held on Monday at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, with Deputy Governors of Nigeria’s states to review the activities of the National Boundary Commission.

The Vice President convened the meeting to provide a forum for the Deputy Governors to interact with the Commission and seek for ways of resolving disputes over boundaries across Nigeria.

He said that the need for high-level resolution of such disputes informed the establishment of the National Boundary Commission through an Act in 2006, which provides organs at the three levels of government and established State Boundary Committees at the states headed by the deputy governors.

“So the handling of border disputes requires a good knowledge of the issues, and in my view, sincerity of purpose and sensitivity.

 “This can only be effectively done at the highest levels of governance which is why the National Boundary Commission (Establishment Act) 2006, provides organs at all three levels of government to establish State Boundary Committees under the chairmanship of the Deputy Governor in each State of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary at the FCT.

  “While the Vice President chairs the internal National Border Commission, (the apex body for resolving border disputes), I believe that bold, fair-minded, just, courageous and patriotic leadership is required to settle border disputes without politicization and heightened tensions.

 “Very often you find that where politicians play ethnic or religious games, it merely exacerbates otherwise straightforward issues, and may frequently result in violence and death.

  “I believe it is responsible leadership that can sit at the table with other leaders and agree to give and take, make concessions that are often difficult and be able to communicate the issues to their constituents and populace.

 “It is that kind of courageous leadership the Law had in mind when those of us who are put into positions of responsibility with respect to border disputes are placed in those positions,” Professor Osinbajo explained.

Pointing out that land is an emotive issue, arising from ancestral claims, the Vice President said that the whole question of boundaries is for administrative purposes and should not lead to disputes and violence.

He said, “It accounts in many cases for the mindless violence and sometimes fatalities that result from border disputes and clashes.

 “For many of our people, it is the very essence of their identity; in some cases, it is tied to ancestry and ancient unresolved rivalries.

 “But lost on many combatants is the fact that many of these boundary lines are in many cases merely for administrative convenience, the sorts of disputes we have, even if there are, shouldn’t result in violence and dislocation of so many of our people.

According to the Vice President, the idea of the meeting came from discussions he had at various times with some of the Deputy Governors who were concerned that the potential of the National Boundary Commission to settle disputes and minimize inter-state rancour and instability would be greatly assisted by the Commission interacting directly with responsible state functionaries and getting a better sense of how they think their border disputes could be more efficiently and more successfully tackled.

“I fully agreed that such an interaction was necessary and important after all, the users of the services of the Commission are best suited to give useful feedbacks and in any event, such an interaction would be an opportunity to jointly review the work of the Commission so far and to chart a pathway to peaceful management of our inter-state Boundaries.

” Calling For Support
While calling for support for the National Boundary Commission efforts to resolve the boundary disputes, the Vice President urged the Commission to work to towards achieving its mandate.

Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaib, who spoke to the media after the meeting, said that deliberation were quite open as issues about boundaries in Nigeria were fully discussed.

He said, “The meeting went very well and we are happy that the vice president called for this meeting.

  It has been long overdue.

  “The closed-door session was a session in which we had to tell each other the truth and interact; and we all said everything that had been the issues of boundary in Nigeria.

 “But generally we all agreed that there are issues to be resolved.

Shuaib said that the meeting agreed that the National Boundary Commission should step up is activities in the demarcation of boundaries between states to ensure peace across the country.

Confidence Okwuchi
Boundary issues: VP Osinbajo meets Deputy Governors

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