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Osinbajo tasks stakeholders on collaborative border governance

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Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President, has tasked border managers to imbibe the mentality of collective responsibility to enhance effective border governance in West Africa and Africa in general.

Osinbajo, who is also the Chairman of the National Boundary Commission (NBC), gave the charge in a speech to the National Workshop on the African Union Integrated Border Governance Strategy (AUBGS) and the African Union Convention on Cross Border Cooperation on Thursday, in Abuja.

The Workshop with the theme, “Towards a secured, prosperous and integrated borders’’ was organised by the NBC, with the support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), ECOWAS and AU.

He said that the ECOWAS was considered one of the most advanced regional economic community in Africa and it had put in place a wide range of mechanisms for securing the region and fostering economic cooperation.

Osinbajo emphasized that in this regard, ECOWAS established a cross border support programme, adding that Nigeria was the first country to inaugurate its national platform for ECOWAS cross border cooperation.

“The newly adopted cross border cooperation support programme would cut across the 15 member states of ECOWAS with new trans boundary corridors to include among others Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger and others.

“The construction of a multinational highway from Enugu to Bamenda in Cameroon, through a border crossing in Cross River is a link between Nigeria and the Central African sub-region and this is a clear demonstration of Nigeria’s commitment to improve trade and investment in Africa.

“The corridor would link up to Mombasa in Kenya covering the East African sub-region thereby connecting three out of the five African sub-regions.

“It is imperative to stress that the work of securing our territorial borders is a collective responsibility; all hands must be on deck accordingly.

“However, we will continue to emphasize our gate way states in the promotion of peace and security,’’ Osinbajo said.

According to the Vice president, it was equally important to engage the border communities and the traditional local authorities at the grassroots level in the translation of governance into complete actions.

“ Border land development and community engagement is considered as the fifth pillar of African border strategy’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Osinbajo was represented at the event by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

Meanwhile, Surv. Adamu Adaji, Director General of NBC, in his address of welcome, said Nigeria shared both land and maritime boundaries with Benin, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Ghana.

Adaji stressed that borders played a central role in economic development and the national security of a nation.

“While borders are considered as peripheral from a national perspective they are, however, the point of contact between contiguous nations from an international standpoint.

“Nigeria’s foreign relation is centred on national interest and the focus of this interest is security, broadly defined to include, among other things, the challenges of nation-building and economic progress,’ Adaji said.

He appreciated the German government and other stakeholders for all their support to NBC to deliver on its mandate.

Also speaking, Mr Ludwig Kirchner, the GIZ’ s ECOWAS Cluster Coordinator, said it was an honour for the Germany government to assist in border development in Africa by bringing Africa’s national policy to the local level.

According to him, the 13 years of supporting AU and member states has taught the GIZ that the resilience of border communities was important for sustainability.

“Strengthening border communities would also strengthen border security.’’

Also, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Deputy Governor of Ogun, who spoke on behalf of all the Deputy governors from states with international borders, said the challenges of border communities were not normally brought to the front burner.

“The policies which affect the micro economy of the country sometimes have devastating effects on these border communities and leave them at a loss. Sometimes, they feel they are in a no man’s land.

“We, the deputy governors of border states in Nigeria want to call on the security agencies and the agencies that manage the borders to look at these communities as their project and partners.

“They should not look at them as people that are necessarily working against the interest of government. But to have an understanding of the challenges that these community faced,’’ Salako-Oyedele said

NAN reports that the workshop attracted officials from the Presidency, SGF’s office, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Justice among others.

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