27 June 2012

Nigeria: Osogbo 2012 - How Traditional Rulers Gave Bite to Fight Against Corruption, Insecurity

Recently, Alhaji (Dr) Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Ooni of Ife, the Chairman and Co-Chairman, of the National Council of Traditional Rulers Of Nigeria (NCTRN) receptively converged no fewer than 200 traditional rulers across the country to hold their 5th General Assembly for two days tagged 'Osogbo 2012' in the Osun State capital. SEFIU AYANBIMPE reports on the advice of the traditional leaders on how to tackle the twin evil of corruption and insecurity pervading the land.

Nigeria's traditional authorities and rulers have always played an important role in community coherence and traditional justice systems before, during and after the colonial era.

During the colonial era, the positions of existing authorities were recognized and new chiefs were created to harmonize the system. Although this system has persisted until the present day, the rise of alternative poles of power, in particular the local and state governments, has tended to undermine the powers of such individuals or councils.

It has been observed that in parts of Nigeria because traditional rulers' long establishment and the respect in which they are held makes them more effective in conflict resolution than 'official' mechanisms. They are also able to take pre-emptive action through their familiarity with the different sections of the community, where the government has been observed to be reactive. Some traditional rulers work extremely hard with little official recognition of their efforts.

The 1999 constitution does not define the role of traditional rulers. This is now seen in some quarters as a policy failure, and the President had invited some of them to a national conference to look into the part they should play in a revised Constitution but they have historical role in the prevention and mediation of conflict.

Traditional Institutions were of greater importance to Nigerian communities as the institution was regarded as sacrosanct.

It was gathered that a society with high level of crime cannot grow or develop to the fullest and impeding the peace and tranquillity of such society.

It is on this note that His Eminence, Alhaji (Dr) Muhammad Saad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and Imperial Majesty, Onirisa, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Ooni of ife, the Chairman and Co-Chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers Of Nigeria(NCTRN) receptively converged no fewer than 200 traditional rulers across the country to find the lasting solution to the problems of Corruption and insecurity facing the peaceful co-existence of the country during their 5th General Assembly tagged 'Osogbo 2012' held at the gigantic hall of the Women and Children Initiative Foundation (WOCDIF), Osogbo, Osun State capital.

LEADERSHIP learnt from the organizer of the event that three first class traditional rulers were drawn from each state of the federation with the absence of Alaaffin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Owa-Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran and few other traditional rulers.

Addressing the mammoth crowd of First class traditional rulers and other dignitaries that graced the conference, Alhaji (Dr) Saad Abubakar, said that the tradition rulers in the country have resolved to join hands with the all levels of government to tackle the monsters of corruption and insecurity in Nigeria.

Alhaji Saad Abubakar maintained that Nigeria cannot develop unless every citizen of the country strives to get rid of corruption and insecurity in the land, advising the people to look for face of God to tackle the challenges facing the peaceful co-existence of the country.

He stated, "As traditional rulers in Nigeria, we know where we are coming from before the independence and there is development, unity, progress and security in our various domain because traditional institutions as old as the country and we do not experience all these challenges. I want to urge we should look for face of God to solve our problems".

The Sultan of Sokoto, therefore, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to concentrate on how to curb terrorism in the country, saying that the current security challenges in the country portend serious dangers to the stability of the nation.

He also urged the president to consult traditional rulers, in his efforts to provide lasting solution to the problems in the land.

According to him, the timing of the meeting was good because it afforded them the opportunity to discuss the issue of security and corruption in the country.

He declared that if the nation could tackle the twin problems of security and corruption, other things would fall in line, adding that a nation cannot develop in the face of corruption and pervading insecurity.

Also speaking in his welcome address, the State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola used the privilege to urge the traditional rulers in the country to prevail on President Goodluck Jonathan led Federal Government to recognise the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola as post-humous president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Mr Aregbesola stated that the call became imperative in recognition of the supreme sacrifice paid by Chief Abiola during the struggle for the enthronement and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.

Governor Aregbesola also used the occasion to reiterate that the state is peaceful contrary to the security report emanated from the Department of State Security Service(DSSS) recently that the government of the state was the threat to country, adding that the State is serene and experienced lowest crime rate among the states of the federation.

The governor then stressed that the 1999 constitution has not given direct role for the traditional rulers in the nation, saying that the traditional rulers have high legitimacy of power and recognition before their people in their various domain than the government.

He also urged the people of the nation to recognize their ethnics and religious differences so as to promote unity among the ethnic groups in the country as a way to tackle the issue of security and corruption ravaging the country.

He stated, "I must therefore thank you for finding our state worthy of hosting the General Assembly of the council. I am pleased to let you know that your choice of Osogbo is a wise one. The State of Osun is peaceful and serene and has one of the lowest crime rates in the country and will no doubt provide the ambiance for a fruitful meeting. The constitution has no direct role for traditional rulers. This lacuna has led to a groundswell of calls from monarchs and traditionalists for a direct constitutional function for our royal fathers. This is how it should be in a republic. Colonialism and the tide of modernity shifted the locus of state legality from traditional institutions to the legal-rational order which unfortunately stripped our royal fathers of their hitherto imperial political authority".

"For the monarchical institution, the awe and respect are still there and can never diminish. The institution, built over several millennial, has been etched into the consciousness of our people, looming large in their archetypes. Therefore, where the traditional rulers have carried themselves with honour and dignity and have taken sides with the people, the throne has greater legitimacy than the transient political authorities", he added.

On his part, Oba Sijuwade said, "It is not what the extremists do that is our concern. It is the action that we make individually and collectively that will save the face of humanity".

The monarchs at the event included, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar; Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yaya Abubakar; Shehu of Borno, Alhaji El-Kanemi, Obong of Calabar; Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse; Obi of Onitsha; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo and Chief Alfred Diete-Spiff, among others.

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