Associate Professor of History and Strategic Studies and Deputy Director, Institute of African and Diaspora Studies at the University of Lagos, Dr. Obi Iwuagwu said if government can give the traditional institution constitutional powers to enable royal fathers play their leadership roles among the people, the country can get the best governance structure.

Iwuagwu made this known recently while delivering a lecture entitled: Managing Nigeria’s Security Challenges: The Role of Traditional Rulers” at a 2-day National Conference on Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Traditional Rulers, organized by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at the Prof. Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, UCH, Ibadan, Oyo State.

He noted that while downplaying the roles of traditional rulers in the governance of any society is an open invitation to chaos, their inclusion in the security management of the country, with clearly defined constitutional responsibilities, will also go a long way in curbing the numerous security challenges befalling the nation.

According to him, the government is always quick to call on traditional rulers to participate in issues relating to the security of the nation but fails to grant them the constitutional provision that clearly spells out their roles.  This, he said, tends to limit their efforts in effectively curbing the security challenges in their respective domains.

Iwuagwu maintained that out of the many suggestions on the possible solution to the security challenges, the best for him is still the empowerment of traditional rulers to play their roles because they are usually more accessible by the ordinary people in times of need and problems than government officials and elected politicians. Because they live among the people, they virtually know everybody and thus, can easily identify problem situations with a view of nipping them in the bud. Among the people, traditional rulers are still seen as the living representatives of the ancestors and believed to derive their authority from the spirits of the Supreme Being or God”.

He however disclosed that a sure prerequisite for empowering traditional rulers towards coping with modern security challenges around the country is for government to also desist from politicizing the traditional institution. We must shield our traditional rulers from partisan politics because once they begin to engage in partisan politics, it immediately undermines their authority and brings division to their communities; undermines the confidence and independence of the traditional institution just as it leaves the traditional rulers with the challenge of administering people with opposing views. Traditional rulers must remain neutral in politics and must be prepared to work with any government to ensure the maintenance of peace and security within their communities”.

The University Don also stressed that while it is important for government to take urgent steps to empower the traditional rulers, much of the work also lies with them, saying they must agree to do a comprehensive internal cleansing, if the institution must regain its lost glory.

To him, the traditional rulers must also, as a matter of necessity, stop honouring and eulogizing wealthy individuals with questionable characters in their communities as that is the only way the people will begin to see them and treat them with more respect.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES

NICO, Abuja