ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY IN THE SCHEME OF NATIONAL BOUNDARY COMMISSION BORDER MANAGEMENT AND CRISIS RESOLUTION.
The National Boundary Commission, since its establishment in 1987 is the apex authority on boundary management and crisis resolution. It is endowed:
(a) with the primary mission of settlement of boundary disputes within the nation (interstate) and between Nigeria and any of her immediate international neighbours;
(b) the prevention of border conflicts and the creation of a climate of enduring mutual confidence and co-operation between Nigeria and its neighbours in search for trans-border collaboration, peace, security, stability and Sustainable development.
The sensitive nature of boundary disputes and conflicts as well as the arduous task involved in settling them bring the National Boundary Commission to accord importance and priority attention not only to settlement and resolution of existing boundary conflicts, but also to research into the potentials of other ground preparing ways for border crisis preventive and sustenance measures. One of such peace brokering alternatives is the Ethnographic research.
Ethnographic Research is part of the peace-building strategies in the National Boundary Commission’s search for ensuring trans-border co-operation, peaceful co-existence, friendliness, and development among border communities. The notion of Ethnographic study as conceived and applied in National Boundary Commission fieldwork is a derivation from it’s more familiar and native discipline of social science in which sociology, psychology, anthropology and Ethnographic collaborate in the study of human beings. And so while demarcators and surveyors grapple with geometrical statistics, Pillars and coordinates, the ethnographic researcher investigate innate human factors, collate facts and diagnoses them for policy decision.
Its main objectives are:
- To create a new awareness and perception of “boundary” as a “bridge”; a meeting point of people and cultures where two communities “touch”; lie side by side; “embrace” and are joined by a line like the umbilical cord. It is therefore a sensitive point of life and death, contact and exchange of vital statistics. Boundary does not divide, separate or exclude “the other”. It is a point of dialogue and romance of two worlds.
- To bring border communities to understand that “boundary” is a mere “administrative contrivance” which facilitates governance from one point to the other, thus making governance, enlightenment, information, development and dividends of democracy to reach the grassroots in different nooks and crannies of this vast country.
- To re-educate and re-orientate Nigeria communities, especially in the border-dispute prone area towards a more liberal, nationalistic concept of nationhood in order to help them break out of their “ethnographic fixations” which make them tribalistic, ethnocentric in attitude and mentality; looking only ethnic-inward, inferior sing others considered as “outsiders”, “stranger” or “intruders”. This ethnocentrism creates ethnic pride and false idealisms making the ethnic group to despise others, attributing to them vices which they may or may not possess. The greater majority of Nigerians have this ethnocentric tarnish, and been, at the bottom of their heart, either Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Efik, Ijaw, Kanuri, Fulani, Tiv, Jakun; a motley of tribe and ethnicities living in a common geopolitical denominator zone called Nigeria, and each profoundly marked by tribal marks and other socio-cultural autistics behaviours which are detrimental to co-existence, co-operation and national, patriotic orientation.
- Ethnographic research aims at promoting the “father-image of justice and fair- play” symbol of the National Boundary Commission in boundary matters, by empowering more Nigerians to embrace global fraternity, the spirit of tolerance and co-operation, the need to look out ward; to break out from their cocoons, their immediate tribal or ethnic enclaves and homespun “aggression” in other to see widely, meet other and learn new lesson in integration and socio-cultural melting-pot.
- To create the awareness and feeling of the “fellow-other person”, who may be a stranger, a neighbour and who, as a human being has something to teach, or needs contract, exchange friendliness and recognition as you do, irrespective of the line of divide.
- To help sensitize Nigerians and especially in the border areas to rise above ethnic chauvinism, philistine conceptions and uncritical, ethnic loyalties which emotionally blind them to dispassionate reasoning or arguments in favour of inter-ethnic co-operation, justice, equity and socio-moral virtues involving” outsider tribes”.
- To un-earth, through the socio-historical and cultural past of the peoples of Nigerian border communities, values, nostalgic memories of school days friendships and acquaintances, play ground comrade links; church and mosque associations which, before the advent of multiple political state creations and fragmentation of Nigeria’s more people-orientated socio-cultural society,(rather than the new one with its growing-up ethnic prejudice, state fixations, avid political interest and ambitions) made all Nigerians children of a nation “where , though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood they stood; hand-in-hand with friends, classmates trade partners from various parts of Nigeria as on family, sharing the same joys and pains.
- To provide seed-ideas which will eventually germinate, mature and spread into the transformative potentials in communities who have heard our mission to become symbols of social change, and a national unity and linguistic barriers which Nigeria has long been searching for in its “failed” political contraptions.
- To inspire and nurture in border communities in particular and Nigeria in general aversion for conflict and disputes, ethnic discrimination, mutual distrust, tans-border crimes, drugs, smuggling, aims and human trafficking, prostitution and economic sabotage, anti-neigbourly attitudes, mass-migration (of our border-dwellers into neighboring countries) and lack of trans-border communication, recreational exchanges, courtesy visit and dialogue.