Senior lawyer wants constitutional empowerment for traditional rulers to tackle insecurity

Traditional rulers in Nigeria
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By Ebere Agozie

Mr Mohammed Ndarani, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has called on the National Assembly to amend the Nigerian constitution to empower traditional rulers to address security issues and promote participatory democracy in Nigeria.

Ndarani said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while referring to his memorandum on the review of the 1999 Constitution which he submitted to the House of Representatives in Abuja.

NAN reports that Ndarani co-signed the memorandum with Dr Stephen Nyeenenwa of the Department of Philosophy, faculty of Humanities, Rivers State University.

He said that traditional rulers were the essence of a legitimate form of participatory democracy since their involvement at the grassroots go a long way towards ensuring grassroots democracy.

The SAN noted that cutting the traditional rulers off from the mainstream political administration exposed the nation’s democracy to serious abuse and corrupt manipulations.

“This is why we proposed in our submission that traditional rulers should be given such powers and functions that accord with their role as the custodians of the people’s culture and traditions.

“The empowerment of traditional rulers will address the nation’s security challenges and accountability in governance.

“Traditional rulers, as custodians of cultural heritage and moral values, are deeply embedded in their communities and possess unique insights into local dynamics.

“By leveraging their influence and authority, they can contribute significantly to efforts aimed at curbing insecurity in their various kingdoms and emirate councils.”

He noted that traditional rulers enjoyed easy accessibility to their subjects, caused mostly by their life-long reigns and hereditary status.

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“They are more stable, influential, and on the average, are among the most trusted institutions in the country.

“It is therefore, imperative that at this period of our democratic growth, we involve them in political administration so that the society will benefit from the public approval ratings that they enjoy.

“Of course, they will transfer the overwhelmingly robust acceptability they enjoy to democratic leadership as a means to shape and improve their various communities.

“They will lawfully work with the police, elected politicians and other stakeholders for the peace and security of their areas. This, we believe, will foster social cohesion and stability and improve democratic consciousness and participation,” Ndarani said.

The senior lawyer said that they also proposed the establishment of a National Council of Traditional Rulers.

“The constitution should formalise and recognise the roles played by the traditional rulers in mediating between the people and the state in enhancing national identity, resolving minor conflicts and providing the needed institutional safety valve to accommodate, absorb and make up for the inadequacies of state bureaucracies.

“The traditional rulers have been on the scene since time immemorial, before the advent of colonialism. To their credit, they form and occupy a central and important role in the lives of the various people and colour their cultural identities.

“By empowering traditional institutions and ensuring accountability at all levels of government, Nigeria can navigate its way towards a safer and a more prosperous future,” he added. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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