Elerinmo of Erinmo, Oba Michael Odunnayo Ajayi, has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari may have meant well by trying to involve traditional rulers in tackling insecurity, but said that it must be backed with constitutional actions.
“I want to believe that the speech was made in good faith. It is a welcome development coming from the President, but it is not enough to challenge traditional rulers to take charge of their people’s security. What is more important is to empower the traditional rulers to be able to carry out these responsibilities.
Much as I would like to thank the President for remembering monarchs as the missing link, I would also urge him to take a step further by recognising and stating specific roles for us in the constitution. This will in no small way have positive effects on our present predicaments”, Ajayi said while reacting to the President.s New Year broadcast to Nigerians.
“I have long been an advocate of making the traditional rulers the fourth tier of the government. Indeed, let me fly a kite here by saying that traditional institutions should actually be the recognised authority at the local government level. Responsibilities must be matched with equal level of authority. Long before Africa was colonised, traditional institutions had existed and had taken charge of not only the security but also the general administration of our people as well as their welfare at the local government level. The real question is why are the traditional rulers not given that role in the Nigerian constitution?
“However, it is a known fact that no traditional ruler can turn a deaf ear to the plight of his people. I believe the time has now come to engage monarchs in governance beyond being symbolic representatives of their people. I view the statement from the President as a sign that sooner than later, he will be given more attention and support to the monarchs to take charge of things at the local level and in their respective domains: one of which is to ensure that there is a budget that matches the responsibilities given. I have always wondered why security votes gets to the States but none ever comes to the traditional rulers”.
The monarch went on: “Talking about the herders and farmers clashes, it has many angles to it. Firstly, I believe the ranks of many of the so called herders has been infiltrated by bad elements or bandits as you call them, who are outrightly there for criminal purposes. Secondly there has always been a competition for available resources between farmers and herders which even from time immemorial, has led to clashes, though not as violent as it is now.
The world, no doubt has advanced and there are better and more economically beneficial ways to rear animals as well as farming. The government needs to engage the major stakeholders without taking sides to ensure that the other root causes of these problems, the sponsors of these evil and those benefiting from the problems are brought to justice to avoid anarchy.
“On the issue of state police, I still find it difficult to understand what people mean by that under the present structure we have in Nigeria today. In Yoruba land we say when a child falls he/she looks forward but when an elder falls, he looks back to see the root cause. The way forward is to look back and go back to where we started from. In a country like the United States of America, they have police department structure in each State and County. There is no overall Inspector General of Police.
Every locality develops the kind of police that suits its needs. Such structure is not enshrined in our constitution for now. That is one area the legislatures have to look into. No doubt all crimes are local to a certain extent but our present federal structure is federal in words but not indeed. I will suggest that the elected parliamentarians should go back to their respective constituencies to get their people’s views and of cause this must involve the traditional institutions to avoid abuse of power before State police becomes a reality.