When traditional rulers gather to rescue polity
The Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt, venue of the conference swiftly turned into a tourist centre, as residents and visitors trooped to behold the majesty and regalia of the monarchs, who, accompanied by their entourages, displayed colourful cultures and heritage through their paraphernalia of office. It was, indeed, a splendid gathering.
Themed: ‘Community policing as catalyst to crime prevention; the role of traditional rulers,’ the session served as a veritable platform for the royal fathers to express their deep concern over the insecurity situation in the country. In their opinion, it was time the traditional institution took the bull by the horn and addressed the anomalies facing the nation before things get out of hand.
The monarchs cited herdsmen’s incessant attacks, Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping, killings, armed robbery and joblessness, among others, as part of the national challenges needing urgent attention.
The Chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria (NCTRN), the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, urged traditional rulers to be role models in all their dealings. He noted that any government that relegates traditional rulers to the background would suffer a setback in its attempt to take governance to the grassroots.
He explained that the body’s formation was a huge step towards restoring peace in the country, and commended the royal fathers for convening the council, when the nation still has opportunities to resolve its challenges.
Abubakar assured that the body would play an advisory role to government in dispute management, and that it would be easier to handle any crisis with the body’s assistance.
On his part, the Ooni of Ife, and Co-chairman of NCTRN, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Dr. Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi II, said there is a lot of tension in the country, as some citizens are depressed, while some are oppressed and others hungry and angry.
The monarch said Nigerians have passed the stage of being easily hoodwinked. Hence, it is time for all to unite in order to tackle the rising challenges, so that generations unborn would not blame the royal fathers.
He said: “Let us put politics aside and put the blatant truth forward. Let us stop the blame game of pointing accusing fingers only at government. Rather, we should all ensure that we use our various positions to effectively discharge our responsibilities to better the society and citizens’ lives. A government may be there for just eight years, but we are here for ever.”
The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, regretted that the country has been walking on its head for so long.
Akanbi said: “If you walk on the head for too long, the brain will burst and we don’t want the brain (the country) to burst. So, we (the royal fathers) have made a proposal to the president. We used strong words to convey this, because we are very serious about addressing the challenges. It is now or never.
“The traditional rulers are the leaders of any nation. We need not be dragged in the mud, so we have decided that Nigeria must change for better and it is now.”
Similarly, the Emir of Khaa, Plateau State, Muazu Muhammed, said it was time the traditional rulers did all in their powers to help move the nation forward, and that no sacrifice is too much to ensure that the desired change is established.
“It is because of our deep worries over the situation in the country that informed our travelling many miles to attend this meeting with the aim of finding appropriate solutions to our national problems,” he said.
The Chairman of Delta State Council of Traditional rulers and Obi of Owa, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor 11, said politics met the traditional institution, so the council wouldn’t allow politics to destroy it.
Observing it was the first time the body formed a united front with serious concerns for the country’s peace and development without aligning with any political party, he expressed the hope that the outcome would change the tides.
For His Royal Majesty, Amayanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diete Spiff, the role of traditional rulers in making the much-needed impact may not be felt until the institution is recognised by the constitution.
“If your child is in school and his name is not on the register, is he/she in school,” he queried. “We are the traditional rulers in this country, but there is nowhere in the constitution where our role is mentioned or defined. Without the constitutional recognition of our roles, all these sweet and flowery talks may not yield the desired result.”
On his part, the Chairman, Rivers State council of traditional rulers and the Amayanabo of Opopo, King Dandeson Jaja, pointed out that traditional rulers were recognised in the past. He, therefore, stressed the need for constitutional recognition to enable the body execute its role effectively.
Also, the Amayanabo of Abonnema in Rivers State, His Royal Highness, Disrael Bobmanuel, later explained that the monarchs took a stand that the killings across the country should be halted and that nothing would revert it.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration would no longer tolerate acts of killings and kidnapping by armed gangs.
Represented by the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. (rtd.) Abdulrahman Dambazau at the meeting, the president described the recent spate of kidnappings, herdsmen attacks and cultists’ activities in various parts of the country as a declaration of war against the Nigerian state.
He said the activities of these violent entrepreneurs against the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians remains a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state in order to threaten her sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“It is regrettable that at a time, when the country was almost heaving a sigh of relief over the degradation and dismantling of Boko Haram structures, suddenly, there was an upsurge in kidnapping, cultism, ethnic militias activities and the herdsmen/ farmers’ conflicts, with the associated wastage of innocent lives in different parts of the country,” Buhari said.
Describing the theme as apt, the president said he has directed that no effort should be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those involved in these killings.
“By whatever name they are called, these acts are criminal violence in and themselves evil and there seems to be deliberate efforts to unleash fear on the citizenry of our beloved nation and to gradually overwhelm the rest of the country by murdering citizens and state officials, destroying properties and taking women and children as hostages.
“As a responsible government, we will neither tolerate nor condone this. All troublemakers, criminals and violent entrepreneurs should be ready to face the consequences of their acts. While Federal Government is doing everything possible to tackle the root causes of crime and violence in Nigeria, we expect citizens to also respect and obey the laws governing our society. It is, therefore, imperative to support this concept of community policing in order to guarantee its success in maintaining law and order, without which our efforts at attracting investment that will drive development will be jeopardized.”
The Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, commended the appropriateness and timeliness of the meeting in a bid to tackle the nation’s security challenges.
Represented by Umaru Bello, the SGF said the traditional rulers have a critical role to play in addressing the security situation of the country.
He urged government to include traditional rulers in its policy to further strengthen the body and enable it help fight crimes.
On his part, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike called for the decentralisation and de-politicisation of security services as a way of resolving the country’s security challenges.
He said: “For us in Rivers State, our position on state and community policing is very clear. While we join our voices to other well-meaning Nigerians to strongly and emphatically demand for the decentralisation and depoliticisation of security services, we are not resting on the back of helplessness to do nothing. Already, we have forwarded a bill to the state House of Assembly to establish the Neighbourhood Security Corps to cooperate, support and complement efforts of the regular security agencies in policing our communities and advancing their security.”
Wike said the reality before the nation is that centralised policing has flatly failed and is incapable of resolving the enormous security challenges of a vast and culturally diverse country like Nigeria
“And even if we continue to live in denial, the recurring bloodbaths in Benue, Taraba and other states have once again exposed the weaknesses of our country’s centralised policing system, as well as the frustrations and near-complete helplessness of state governors in their quest to provide adequate security for the communities and the people they govern.
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