Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for enhanced synergy and strategic security policy between Nigeria and neighbouring countries in the war against terrorism and violent extremism in Nigeria and neighboring countries.
Osinbajo made the call at the Foreign Policy and National Security Conference with the theme, “Securing Nigeria’s Strategic Neighbourhood” organised by the National Defence College (NDC) on Tuesday in abuja.
He said that Nigeria’s international obligations could be perceived to range from bilateral commitments with its immediate neighbours and the fellow member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the continent as a whole.
Osinbajo, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Policy and Research, Mr Chris Ngwodo, said those commitments underpinned a foreign policy that was typically described as ”afrocentric.”
According to him, our strategic neighbourhood can no longer be understood solely in terms defined by contiguous borders.
“About three decades ago, the task of defining Nigeria’s strategic neighbourhood was a relatively easy one.
“We had in view our neighbours with whom we share contiguous borders, then West Africa and then Africa.
“Nigeria tends to view the ECOWAS region as its neighbourhood but has also retained strong relations with its immediate neighbours.
“We would perceive threats to national security through the lense of proximity as risks latent in the near abroad such as the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea.
“This conception of our strategic neighbourhood has long been the dominant paradigm,” he said.
Osinbajo said that there was a clear link between transborder organised crime and various species of local gangsterism.
He added that human trafficking rings were driving irregular migration while the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons continues to fuel conflicts on Nigeria shores.
“In Nigeria, what began as a local insurrection in the North-East has since metamorphosed into an insurgency troubling three other countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon,” he said.
The Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retired), said the theme of the conference was timely in view of the real, imagined and emerging security realities confronting Nigeria.
Magashi, who was represented by the Director, Air Force, Mr Peter Utsu, said the conference had provided another avenue for various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to reflect on issues of defence and foreign policy that had direct bearing on the national security.
He said that the event could not have come at a better time in view of the evolving security threats within West and Central Africa in particular and the continent at large.
According to him, these threats are increasingly tasking the defence and security forces and constantly demanding smart strategies for solution.
“You will agree with me that the citizens are also curious and expectant that the government of the day will rise to the challenge to sustain order, stability and economic development.
“It is therefore not surprising that the pursuit of security has remained a cardinal principle of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since inception on May 29, 2015.
“It is in recognition of the interplay of domestic and international security dynamics that Mr President embarked on shuttle diplomacy with our neighbouring states to solicit their support at addressing diverse threats confronting the country,” he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said that national diplomacy and defence were inseparable and complementary in time of peace and war.
Onyeama, who was represented by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr Peter Egopija, called for continuous collaboration between the ministry and NDC towards projecting and promoting Nigeria’s foreign and defence policy objectives centred on stability and development.
He expressed confidence that the outcome of the conference would create strategic platform to generate the desired ideas and solution to the security challenges confronting the nation.
In his welcome address, the Commandant of NDC, Rear Adm. Markson Kadiri, said that the conference was a continuation of three previous Roundtables on Foreign Policy and National Security organised by the College since November 2017.
Kadiri said the decision to sustain the conversations was borne from the realisation of the importance which the government and its institutions have attached to the outcome documents.
He said that the security dynamics in Nigeria’s strategic neighbourhood defined in terms of her sphere of interest had remained volatile in spite of dedicated measures adopted towards fostering security and stability.
According to him, Nigeria is continuously inundated with physical and human security challenges in neighbouring countries that exert pressures on the Nation’s security interests.
“The incidences of terrorism and insurgencies in the Lake Chad Basin area, the Sahel and even parts of North Africa and the Maghreb have stimulated negative spill-over consequences on the security and stability of Nigeria,” he said.