Speaker Abbas, Etsu Nupe, NBA president, others advocate constitutional role for traditional rulers

Speaker of the Hosue of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen; Etsu Nupe and chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers, Yahaya Abubakar and the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) recommend that the traditional rulers be given a constitutional role because of the critical role they have to play in addressing the security challenges facing the country.

The royal father and the NBA President are among the speakers who advocated a constitutional role for traditional rulers on the second day of the first-ever Legislative Open Week organized by the House of Representatives.

The royal father said it was regrettable that the constitutional role contained in the nation’s past constitutions was removed in the 1999 constitution while several attempts to bring it back have so far yielded no positive results.

The Etsu Nupe who is also the chairman of the Niger state council of traditional rulers said further that the current insecurity in the country can best be addressed by the traditional rulers because they are conversant with their environment and knows their subjects very well.

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He stressed that when the colonial masters came into the country, they met an already well-established traditional institution which they worked with to achieve their aim.

The NBA President also said that there should be a constitutional provision for the sources of funding for the traditional institution since they cannot do anything without funds, adding that without adequate funds, the traditional rulers will not be able to do anything concrete even if they are granted a constitutional role.

According to him, the current legislative framework which he said is outdated has rendered traditional rulers ineffective, adding that the old laws limit the performance of the traditional institutions.

He argued that if the government is interested in addressing the current security challenges, there must be a constitutional role for the traditional institution as those saddled with the responsibility of governing the people at the traditional level know their people and know how to easily identify strangers and criminals among them.

Maikyau said the traditional rulers are like security men who cannot leave their domain no matter the situation and should therefore be accorded the important place they deserve in the country.

Speaker of the House, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen said the open week was organised to provide an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect, think and ponder over the issue of local government autonomy and the constitutional role of traditional rulers.

Speaker Abbas said through the views expressed by stakeholders at the event, the House will know what to do with the issue of traditional rulers and what members of the House can do to redeem the country and bring back the nation’s heritage.

He said given the importance the House attached to the issue of traditional rulers, it created two special committees (Committee on State and Local Government and Committee on Traditional Institution).

He said the House believes that the traditional rulers have a great role to play in adding value to Nigerian society addressing the current challenges facing the nation and enhancing a better society.

The Speaker said with a constitutional role for traditional rulers, security in the country will be better enhanced, adding that he expected the two-house committees to drive the process of constitutional role for traditional rulers in the country.

The traditional ruler of Idjerhe Kingdom in Delta state, Monday Obukohwo Whiskey said there are certain problems that the government cannot solve on their own without the intervention of the traditional rulers.

He regretted that before now, there was a constitutional role for traditional rulers which was later removed from the constitution, adding that Nigerians need to retrace their steps and bring back the constitutional role.

The paramount ruler of Igbora Oke in Ondo state, Oba Francis Agbede said the traditional rulers know everyone that comes into their community and know how to address the challenges they pose, but stressed that because they lack the legal backing, they have not been able to do much.

He called for adequate funding of the traditional institutions by giving them security votes to enable them to address some of the security and other challenges facing them.

He commended the government and the House of Representatives for the steps being taken to grant autonomy to local government, saying doing so will enhance development at the local government level

National Treasurer of the Nigeria Guild of Editors, Steve Nwosu said trying to give the traditional rulers a constitutional role, they must be isolated from political interference in other to accord them the respect they deserve.

Also speaking, the representative of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF Chief Oviewe Ominimini said the powers of the state governors to remove a traditional ruler was bad since the traditional rulers are appointed by the kingmakers, adding that there should be a provision in the constitution to prevent the removal of traditional rulers by state governors.

On funding for the traditional institution, he said that the 5 percent of local government funds that the constitution allowed be given to the traditional institutions and the local government funds have been hijacked by the governors.

He advocated that funds meant for the traditional institution should be placed on the first line charge to ensure that such funds are not appropriated by the governors, while the traditional rulers should be made to have a representative in the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee.

He also advocated for the scrapping of the Local Government Joint Account and the State Independent National Electoral Commission to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.

In the alternative, he said local government should be delisted from the constitution as a tier of government to allow states to create as many local government areas they wish to create and administer.

Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Bayo Balogun (APC, Lagos) said what some traditional rulers are paid in parts of the country is less than the minimum wage of Nigerian workers.

He stressed the need to revisit the land use act which he said took the land away from the traditional rulers and vested the power to allocate land on governors thereby denying the traditional rulers’ source of revenue.

He advocated the inclusion of representatives of the traditional rulers in the state security council as well as the state land allocation committee, while 15 percent of revenue from ground rent should be reserved for the traditional rulers.

Chairman of the House Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs, Hon. Canice Moore Nwachukwu said the traditional rulers should be prevented from getting involved in politics as the constant involvement in politics will always lead to issues.


[The Nation]

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