Even though “the soul of the North, and of Nigeria by extension, is being contested by some of the most destructive and evil forces in contemporary history,” the Buhari Administration is firmly resolved to resist and defeat them, says Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, as Special Guest of Honour at the 8th Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation Memorial Lecture on Tuesday in Kano.
Prof. Osinbajo did not mince words, asserting that “it is a fight we are determined to win. And we know that by the grace of God, all of these evil forces will be completely exterminated.”
Emphasizing the rationale for a tough, collaborative resistance, the VP submitted that without it “neither the glorious legacies of the past nor the future our children will inherit, is immune to the unchecked onslaught.”
It is for this reason, he explained, that the President “on numerous occasions reiterated the view that our peace and security architecture must recognize that traditional institutions are our first line of defence against the forces of anarchy.”
He further noted that this explains why the Federal Government has deepened its partnership with traditional institutions on several fronts, adding that “given their familiarity with the local environment, traditional institutions are integral to our nationwide programme of community policing and can deliver valuable intelligence to State authorities.”
Continuing the VP said, “many communities, the military and law enforcement agencies are partnering with local age-grade groups, hunters, and various associations under the sanction of the traditional leadership.”
On its part, he assured that “the Federal Government has remained resolute in the fight against terrorists and insurgents. Recent efforts have focused on deploying technology for surveillance, intelligence gathering and attack.
“We will also continue to encourage collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Justice, their State counterparts, and law enforcement, to ensure that those who have been apprehended for terrorism and violent crimes are effectively prosecuted.”
Prof. Osinbajo then underscored the influential role of traditional institutions and leaders as bridge-builders in communities in order to effectively tackle security challenges and promote peace and unity, at the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation lecture on Leadership and Good Governance which was titled “Reviving the Northern Traditional Institutions: Imperative for Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria.”
While in Kano, the Vice President, who received a rousing reception and cheers from the people of the State at several points on the road including atop bridges and at every street stop, also paid condolence visits to the families of the former presidential candidate, late Dr. Bashir Tofa, renowned Islamic scholar, late Sheikh Ahmad Bamba of BUK and community leader, the late Alhaji Hassan Naif.
TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS COMPLEMENT DEMOCRACY
But earlier while addressing the theme of the lecture, the VP noted that traditional institutions complement democracy in building a more inclusive and peaceful society, even as he noted that “the extensive influence within the existing Northern traditional leadership is urgently needed today more than ever.”
“In today’s world, the continued existence of these traditional institutions and communal sensibilities, side by side with the machinery of our modern democracy, gives us an advantage that we must invoke. The moral and legal frameworks of this entrenched structural duality allow us to be able to tackle problems, like insecurity, holistically,” he added.
Prof. Osinbajo highlighted examples from the Emirate system of Northern Nigeria, which he described as “a well-structured institution with a network of community leaders who helped sustain peace and security throughout their domains.”
PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENTS & TRADITIONAL RULERS
Explaining further the importance of partnership between Government at the Federal and State levels and traditional rulers, the VP disclosed that traditional institutions have also been a key part of the conception and execution of the Administration’s initiatives such as the Social Investment Programmes, and the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
He added that the partnership was also crucial in the implementation of the At-Risk Children Programme (ARC-P) – an initiative that addresses vulnerable children who lack social protection and basic formal education.
Highlighting the strength in unity despite Nigeria’s diversity, the Vice President stated that “our communities are diverse, host and home to people from all corners of our country. The composition of our communities places a burden on leadership to promote peaceful coexistence, mutuality and tolerance.”
He also observed that “our traditional institutions possess emotional channels that penetrate far deeper than the most sophisticated surveillance equipment can. They hear what the government does not hear, they see what the government does not see. They understand the language of the people’s frustrations and can provide valuable intelligence that de-escalates potential conflagrations before they have a chance to spark.
BUILDING STRONG, STABLE SOCIETY
Prof. Osinbajo urged political and traditional leaders to shun divisive politics and sentiments in order to build a strong and stable society.
“There is an entire world out there calling to the potential of the young men and women not just of the North, but the whole of Nigeria. We owe it to them to see that they have ample opportunity to take their place in it. We have a duty to remind them of the values that define us, of the virtues of work and faith, tolerance and brotherliness. We owe them a duty to prepare them for a competitive world through knowledge acquisition and moral development.”
“We cannot afford to allow political expediencies taint the sanctity of our traditional institutions. Reviving traditional institutions also requires that we build and rebuild the connecting tissues of trust between political leaders, traditional institutions, and the people,” he said.
Prof. Osinbajo stated the task of promoting peaceful coexistence was “incumbent on traditional rulers in their domains as much as it is on elected leaders on all tiers of governance.”
The VP observed that positive things happen “when traditional institutions throw their moral weight behind progressive causes, whether it is educating the girl-child and getting out-of-school children into schools or championing the conservation of our environment and combating the ravages of drug abuse.
“These are all areas of concern for our administration and there is no doubt that we can prevail over these challenges if we work together.”
He added that “royal fathers have to be fathers of all in word and in deed. Our collective vision must be of an environment of peace, where the right to aspire and self-actualise is supported, irrespective of religion, gender or cultural identity. There is no place for exclusion or nativism. This understanding is at the heart of the consensus upon which we will anchor a peaceful and prosperous country.”
According to Prof. Osinbajo, the powerful role traditional institutions play in ensuring peace and security, as well as their influence on values embodied in society, are major principles the late Sardauna held dear.
The Vice President noted the qualities of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, whom he said has “a legacy of unifying the peoples of the North around a common purpose and the visionary pursuit of the actualisation of their individual and collective potential.
“As a Prince of Sokoto and a scion of the traditional institution, the Sardauna embodied the nexus between the ancient and the modern. He was a traditionalist with strong farsighted modernising instincts who understood that the key to the future lay in blending ancient values with progressive truths. As the Premier of the then Northern Region, he understood the necessity of inclusive governance in a plural environment.”
Describing him as a servant leader, the Vice President noted that the Sardauna was a pragmatic unifier who stood for the principles he held dear, while respecting the diverse views of others.
The VP also commended the Emir of Lafia, HRH, Hon Justice Sidi Bage (Rtd), who was the Guest Speaker at the event, for “an informative, insightful, historical and contemporary review of law and policy on the role of Northern traditional institutions in the peace and security framework.”
He also commended the organisers, Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, for sustaining this important platform for constant introspection and action on national development.
In his remarks at the event, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said Vice President Osinbajo has carved a niche for himself in the task of nation-building, national integration, “as well as remaining a bridge builder.”
With the Vice President and the Kano State Governor at the lecture were other dignitaries including the Plateau State Governor Mr. Simon Lalong, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Dr Emmanuel Akabe; former Niger State Governor, Mr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu; Member, House of Representatives, Hon. Hafiz Ibrahim; the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami; the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Aminu Ado Bayero.
Speaking during a condolence visit to the family of late Dr Bashir Tofa, the Vice President described the late politician as “a very unique Nigerian who was a bridge builder, made friends, and built relationships across the country, and made serious contributions in discourse about the country and about national development.”
At the Tudun Yola Quarters Mosque where the renowned Islamic scholar, late Sheikh Ahmad Bamba BUK, resided, the VP, while praying for the deceased family, praised the late Sheik’s teachings, noting that his teachings were “of peace, brotherliness, fairness and justice,” describing him as one of the best known Sunni scholars in the world.
Condoling with the family of the late community leader, Alhaji Hassan Naif, the Vice President urged the family members to preserve the good deeds of their father, stating that “the legacy is one that must be cherished and one that you must promote in every possible way. The legacy of peace and brotherhood with everyone, the legacy of community service.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
19th January 2022