Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday discussed issues ranging from constitutional role to security, economy among others with two prominent traditional rulers in Delta.
Osinbajo was in Delta for the thanksgiving Mass of late Chief Patrick Ideh, a renowned legal practitioner and nationalist who passed away at the age of 95.
The thanksgiving Mass was held at the Mother of The Redeemer Catholic Church, Effurun, Warri.
After the Mass, the vice president, accompanied by Delta Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, paid courtesy visits to the palaces of Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, Dr Emmanuel Sideso, and Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III.
Receiving the vice president in his palace, Sideso thanked Osinbajo for his respect for traditional rulers.
He said, however, that traditional rulers in the country are not happy that the issue of constitutional role for the traditional rulers was not considered by the National Assembly.
“You have always been there for us; I am the Chairman of the National Traditional Rulers Summit in Abuja.
“The last summit we held, you represented the president; you physically came and stayed with us throughout the summit.
“On behalf of the traditional rulers in the whole country, we are appealing to you and the president to look at this again; I don’t think it is too late to look at it and perhaps call us and advice us on why it cannot be done at the moment.
“We are the grassroots people; and if there is any problem, you people come to us and seek our prayers because you are our children,’’ he said.
He urged the vice president to intervene on the quest for constitutional role for the traditional institution.
In his response, Osinbajo said he was in the kingdom to honour late Chief Ideh who is an illustrious son.
The vice president said he is hopeful that the National Assembly would eventually attend to the question of constitutional role for traditional rulers.
“But I think that there is a genuine desire by traditional rulers to be more intricately involved; to be more directly involved in governance and government in Nigeria.
“And just going by the track record that we see even in this kingdom, it is very evident that your role has been instrumental in keeping the peace here.
“So, I think traditional rulership is so important in keeping law and order and in maintaining peace in all of our communities.’’
At the palace of Olu of Warri, Osinbajo congratulated Atuwatse for ascending to throne of his fathers.
He said the traditional institution has a vital role to play in addressing the security challenges in the country.
“As you know, coming into office, we had on top of our agenda, as the president stated, the economy, security, governance, and corruption.
“The role of the traditional council, the traditional rulership in our country is critical to security; absolutely critical and I am happy that this is something that you also, not only recognises, but accept as a major function of the traditional rulership.’’
Osinbajo said that he and the deputy governor had worked extensively in some of the conflicts in oil producing communities that had led to a decline in oil production.
He said that they were able to achieve results by going round to speak to various communities.
“We want to see that security challenges; oil theft and some of what we are seeing in the Delta and in many of our oil producing communities are swiftly brought to an end,’’ he said.
Atuwatse had earlier in his welcome remarks, said that Osinbajo’s visit was divine as it coincided with the end of the week the kingdom visited Itsekiri communities in other parts of Nigeria, including Ogun and Kogi States.
According to him, there is an affinity between Itsekiri people and Osinbajo as the vice president is their in-law through his marriage to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s grand daughter.
In response to the vice president’s remarks, Atuwase said that traditional rulers were committed to ensuring security and unhindered oil production.
“I am very happy that our deputy governor is here and will bear witness to our commitment to not only security in this axis but in ensuring that the oil production here does not dwindle, especially now with global events – oil is now approaching US$120 per barrel.
“And Nigeria has to, as much as it can, benefit from that development; not quite long ago, we did something unprecedented.
“Traditional rulers are here to ensure that they are bridge builders between government and the people.
“We have committed ourselves to ensuring that where we had a hitch in Ogidigben — where the production was shut down, we have committed ourselves to making sure that not only are things restored but the International Oil Companies (IOCs) commitment to the community, which as the cause of the breakdown, is finally resolved.’’
He said he is willing to collaborate with the Federal Government in ensuring lasting peace and transforming the Niger Delta region.
“Please, let the president know that once there is anything that resembles a security situation, he can call on us and he has our full cooperation,’’ Atuwatse said. (NAN)