Being a speech delivered by the vice president, Prof, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the National Boundary Commission (NBC) retreat on Border Management held in Abuja on May 21, 2018.
It gives me great pleasure to join you, at this retreat of managers and other stakeholders of Nigeria’s internal and external boundaries. I am delighted to note the diversity of this gathering; the presence here of stakeholders from the Executive and Legislative Arms of the Federal Government, Representatives of State Governments, Security Agencies, among others.
There is no doubt that the most viable and enduring solutions to Nigeria’s border problems will not happen in the absence of such a wide-ranging collaborative framework.
Nigeria has over 4,000 kilometers of external borders, including its Atlantic coastline; in addition to the thousands of kilometers of borders that the 36 States and the FCT share with one another. What happens along these borders greatly affect what happens within them. All you need is a cursory look at the daily news headlines to realize just how much of the issues they embody are determined by activities taking place at or across our land and maritime borders and boundaries; whether it is the smuggling or illegal oil bunkering, or the impact of undocumented migration on the security situation in the North Central, or communal clashes arising from boundary disputes.
The National Boundary Commission is responsible, according to the Act that established it, for defining and delimiting Nigeria’s internal and external boundaries, resolving disputes, promoting trans-boundary cooperation, and coordinating all activities on our international boundaries.
This means that the Commission has a very important role to play in mobilizing and coordinating various stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, subnational governments, foreign governments, bilateral and multilateral organizations, and others, to collectively deal with any and all boundary issues.
Let me affirm that the Federal Government fully recognizes the significance of the National Boundary Commission’s role. Indeed, as part of efforts to strengthen the Commission and reposition it to more effectively fulfill its responsibilities; President Buhari has approved the appointment of six (6) distinguished Nigerians as members of the Board.
The six appointed members, representing the six geo-political zones of the country, will work hand in hand with the ex-officio members of the Commission’s Board – Ministers, State Governors, Security Chiefs – as well as the management and staff of the Commission.
It is important that you work harmoniously, not only among yourselves as a Commission, but also with all external stakeholders. As a Commission whose mandate includes ensuring harmonious border relations, charity has to begin at home.
Permit me to mention that the role of the Commission given the numerous border challenges has to be more creative and innovative. Every nation attends to the peculiarities of its border issues with solutions that are nuanced, smart, affordable and result-oriented. We simply cannot do things in the same way we did them for years and expect different results.
It is time to rethink and re-engineer our border policies. This is the paramount responsibility of the commission and we trust that you will deliver.
I must again commend the management of National Boundary Commission for organizing this retreat, and bringing together in one place all the relevant stakeholders. The conversations you will have today and hopefully continue even after the retreat will redefine the narrative of border challenges in Nigeria.
Here in this room are probably most of the best minds on border issues not just in Nigeria but anywhere, so we have an opportunity to move the needle on these long running issues of border management in Nigeria. So while wishing you fruitful deliberations, it is my pleasure and privilege to declare this Retreat open.
Thank you and God bless.