Senate Endorses Constitutional Role for Traditional Rulers

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ABUJA, May 30, (THEWILL) - A bill seeking to allot constitutional recognition to traditional rulers has scaled second reading at the Senate.

The bill, which will see to the establishment of the National Council of Traditional Rulers, was sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

According to Sen. Adamu, the Bill for an Act to Establish the National Council of Traditional Rulers will address the distortion created by the isolation of the traditional institution in the country’s democracy.

Adamu noted that the traditional institution remains the oldest surviving politico-cultural institution, which has always served as the pivot for social security, national cohesion and meaningful socio-cultural development.

“It is necessary to make provisions spelling out advisory roles for the traditional institution in such a way that the performance and conduct of traditional rulers do not conflict with the interest of peaceful co-existence and good governance,” he added.

In his contribution, Sen. Olubunmi Adetumbi said the bill emphasised the need for government to harness the traditional institution. He argued that continuously ignoring the institution could spell peril for the nation.

He further blamed the inability of government to penetrate the grassroots on the absence of available structures, made possible by the presence of traditional institutions that, unfortunatel,y lack roles and responsibilities spelt out by the constitution.

“I think what we lack here is the absence of definition of roles and responsibilities. In a multi-party democracy like ours, having traditional institutions will ensure the presence of traditional leadership devoid of political colouration.”

Sen. Abdul Ningi said that “Boko Haram is an issue that traditional leaders would have dealt with if they had traditional recognition and backing. Unfortunately, they cannot, because they are like any other Nigerian.”

Sen. Ahmed Lawan added that traditional institutions have, over the years, been neglected despite playing a unifying role in the country.

“To ensure that this trend does not take the traditional institution into the constitution, any government in power must not make any attempt to manipulate the council,” he said. “Traditional fathers should be the last hub of giving honest, sincere and courageous advice to any president or leader. If any other thing happens outside of this, there’d be problem.”

In opposition to the bill however, Sen. Uche Chukwumerije disagreed that traditional rulers should be given constitutional roles and responsibilities, saying they lack structures positioning them in the constitution.

“They should not be given constitutional roles because they have no structure that puts them in the constitution,” Uche stated. “The more homage we give to these cultural groups, the lesser it will be for authorities of modern states. Passing this bill will be the building point of conflict in society. If we have to promote the dignity of our traditional rulers, we must leave them as traditional rulers.”