Why traditional rulers failed to get constitutional roles, by Jonathan


Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said politicians scuttled attempts by his administration to amend the constitution and give legislative backing to the roles of traditional rulers in the country.

He said the politicians anchored their objections to the anticipated power and political influence the amendment may confer on the traditional rulers in their constituencies.

Jonathan made this known while speaking during the 80th birthday and 58th years coronation anniversary of the Ibenabowei of Bomo Kingdom in Bayelsa State, King Safigha Joshua Igbugburu.


He said although his administration attempted to send an executive bill to the National Assembly for the needed constitutional amendment on the role of the traditional rulers, it was dropped after stiff opposition from politicians.

Commenting on the paper delivered by Professor Joe Alagoa titled: The Role of Traditional Institutions in Leadership and Development in Nigeria, he said: “When we took over, we met a Traditional Rulers Committee headed by the Sultan of Sokoto. And they only meet at the instance of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). If the SGF likes, they meet. If he does not like, they don’t meet.

“I moved to amend that and to upgrade them to the level where they can play a constitutional advisory role to the President. They should serve like the Council of State.

“When I wanted to send the Bill to the National Assembly, some prominent politicians kicked against the idea. And we dropped the idea because it did not go down well with them. From the experience, the traditional rulers needed to play a key role.

“The feeling that the traditional rulers could be more powerful should not be a yardstick for politicians to fear them. They should work with them.”

Jonathan commended Igbugburu for his achievement on the throne and as a bridge builder outside the state as the Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University in Nasarawa State.

Also speaking, Governor Seriake Dickson said traditional rulers were peace promoters, who have to a large extent, ensured that peace reigned in the communities.

Represented by the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Felix Tuodolo, Dickson said since Igbugburu ascended the throne, Bomo Kingdom has continued to experience peace.

He noted that in view of the seriousness government attached to the traditional institution, the government built the best traditional rulers council in the country in Yenagoa.

Dickson said a befitting museum, archive and language centre has been built to promote culture, even as he appealed to the traditional institutions to help promote culture in their domains and charged the youth to respect leaders in their communities.

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