National Council of Traditional Rulers chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and co-chaired by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has blamed the military administrations led by Generals Johnson Aguyi-Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo between 1966 and 1979 of making traditional rulers redundant at all levels of governance in the country.
The council, therefore, demanded a constitutional role in governance as was the practice during the pre-colonial, colonial and even post-colonial era up to 1976 in order to ensure adequate peace and security in the country, especially at the grassroots.
These were contained in the submissions made yesterday before the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review at the National Assembly by the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar on behalf of the traditional rulers.
Specifically, the council noted a lack of constitutional roles for monarchs created the problems of insecurity, religious and communal clashes currently facing the country.
According to them, traditional institution aside been the only platform of societal administration before the advent of colonialism was also the veritable platform heavily relied upon by the colonialists during the era of colonialism, which made the Institution to be factored into the form of governance bequeathed to us in 1960 at independence.
“At independence and even before, precisely during the first republic, both the 1960 and 1963 constitutions, gave traditional rulers substantial roles to play in governance through the bicameral legislature at the regional level with the House of Chiefs in place along with parliaments meant for elected representatives.
“But the military interregnum which started with the Aguyi-Ironsi regime in January 1966 to that of Yakubu Gowon from July 1966 to July 1975 and that of Obasanjo which carried out the local government reform in 1976, stripped the traditional rulers of any constitutional role in governance.
“Unfortunately, before the exclusion of the Institution from governance, particularly at the grassroots, insecurity was no problems for the country as well as religious and communal clashes being experienced in different parts of the country now,” the Etsu said.
He specifically declared that the 1976 Local Government Reform, carried out under the Obasanjo military regime, crippled the institution in the running of governance at the local level like arbitration on issues like marital, land theft etc, within an Emirate or community.
“No community or nation can thrive successfully without due consideration of its historical evolution, which was not considered by any of the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
“Even the ceremonial function given to the Institution by the 1979 constitution with the inclusion of chairmen of the Council of traditional rulers from each of the 19 states then, as members of the National Council of States was removed by the 1999 constitution”, he lamented.
He, therefore, as contained in the 19 – page written memorandum submitted to the committee, demanded for reinstatement of the status of the traditional institution in the country as it was before, during and few years after the colonial era.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan assured the traditional rulers of cooperation of the National Assembly in acceding to their demands.
“If given the required constitutional role, traditional institution, will no doubt, add values to governance in the country in the area of security, communal conflicts among others.
“In fact, if there is a need for the institution to be factored into the nation’s security architecture, it should be done for security and safety of Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country,” he said.
Also, chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review in the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege in his remarks, urged the traditional rulers to lobby both the federal and state lawmakers for easy adoption of their requests, since according to him, all political office holders, elected or appointed, are subjects of traditional
Source: Nigerian Pilot