Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has said that the intervention by traditional rulers helped curtail the bombing of oil installations by the Niger Delta militants and the secessionist uprising in the South East.
Professor Osinbajo spoke on Wednesday at the opening of the 10th National Development Summit of Nigerian Traditional Rulers in Abuja.
He stated that the traditional rulers played crucial roles at the point the country was threatened by the Niger Delta militants and the separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The Vice President further called on traditional rulers in Nigeria to take greater responsibility in resolving conflicts in the country, adding that dialogue and engagements were as just as important as law enforcement in tackling disputes.
Osinbajo said that traditional rulers were 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.”
He further stated that “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.
“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.
“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.
“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 stated.
The vice president said Nigeria’s traditional cultures had long ago perfected timeless dispute-resolution and community-engagement mechanisms that were now under threat of being lost forever.
“As traditional rulers, your forebears and ancestors were the initiators and implementer of many of these mechanisms, and our cultural institutions have evolved ways of passing this knowledge down the generations – even if we have not been paying attention as we should.
“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,” he stated.