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Eze proposes constitutional roles for rulers

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By Abraham Adekunle

Says integration with government structure will bring stability.

Recently, William Ezegwu was elected as the Igwe of Ibagwa Opi Autonomous Community of Opi Ancient Kingdom in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State. Speaking to reporters, he said that according to his belief, everything has its time, it is time to be of better service to his people at the grassroots level. This is especially when the people desired that he serve them as a traditional leader in another capacity, he said.

He felt very comfortable with the new development and appreciated the government of Enugu State, the people of Ibagwa Opi Autonomous Community and the entire Ogbozarra people in the Opi Ancient Kingdom for their support and cooperation so far. The Ibagwa Opi Autonomous Community is just a part of his larger domain as the Eze Ogbozarra III (the monarch of Ogbozarra) – the third in the lineage. His larger domain, Ogbozarra, he said, is made up of two autonomous communities. Because of this, he came closer to the grassroots to serve his people as their native leader as the custodian of the customs and tradition of the people.

Ezegwu supports constitutional roles for traditional rulers.

Since the coming of the British colonial administration to the geographical location now known as Nigeria, the powers of traditional rulers have diminished to a ceremonial and cultural leadership domain. Apart from cultural and religious directives, they do not have the wherewithal to control anything tangible. In fact, their directives, such as curfews or the declaration of an annual festival, must be in line with the constitution. So, it is with respect and cultural rights that they operate their office.

However, Ezegwu has said that integrating the traditional institution into the state and national security and governance architecture will go a long way in bringing stability in government and assist in reducing criminality in communities. Thus, Nigeria should create constitutional roles for traditional rulers as the custodians of the culture and traditions of the people nationwide. He said that traditional rulers have been running the affairs of the country without any clearly defined roles for them in the constitution.

Nigeria cannot manage situations because of this setup.

This set of people have been rendered powerless as a result of the colonial administration’s influence, the result is apparent in the inability of the country to adequately manage the socio-economic and security challenges that Nigeria has today. The challenges have been on the rise, but traditional kings and chiefs, the symbol of Nigeria’s indigenous traditions and cultures, have been playing useful roles in mediating between the people and the state, enhancing national identity and resolving minor conflicts in their various communities.

In fact, the colonial masters used them to preside over native courts, helped the colonial government in the area of tax assessment and collection and took active part in law making, among others. In other words, the British ruled their colonies through their kings and chiefs. Before the coming of the colonial masters who gradually gave a big blow to our traditional values, the traditional rulers served as a link between the people and their ancestors, appointed subordinate chiefs for native administrations, and maintained law and order in their respective domains.

Cultural reforms, which Nigeria needs, will be enshrined again by this.

They ensured the preservation of native laws and customs. These pre-colonial roles of traditional rulers helped in reducing corruption, minimizing criminality in the communities, and led to economic growth until the roles of the traditional rulers were eroded. If the traditional rulers are integrated into the governance system, many of the ills of the society and general lack of morals in the society today will be gradually corrected and Nigeria will be a better place for citizens and visitors to the country alike.

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