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Why monarchs deserve better deal in development agenda

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Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin (right); Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Esuwoye II; guest speaker, Prof. Olutayo Adesina; representative of Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Mahraz Karaye; and Chairman of the event, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

The assembly of traditional rulers that Friday afternoon inside the conference hall of Western Sun International hotel, NYSC Camp Road, Ede, Osun State was symbolic.

They came from far and near to felicitate with the Royal Majesty, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal (Laminisa 1), Timi of Edeland whose 10th coronation anniversary had drawn national and global attention to the sprawling city of Ede.

The one-week long event, which began on March 3, 2018 had featured series of activities. But the main highlight of March 9 was the anniversary lecture with professor of History at the University of Ibadan, Olutayo Adesina who is also Secretary, Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) as guest speaker.

Prominent traditional rulers at the lecture included the Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin; Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Esuwoye II; Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun; Akirun of Ikirun, Oba Abdul Rauf Olawale Adedeji; Olunisa of Inisa, Oba Joseph Oladunjoye Oyedele; Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Abdurasheed Ayotunde Olabomi; and Olokuku of Okuku, Oba Abioye Oyebode Oluronke II .

Others were Oloyan of Oyan, Oba Adekeye Oyedare; Olufon of Ifon, Oba Al Maroof Adekunle Magbagbeola Olumoyero II; Olobu of Ilobu, Oba Ashiru Olatoye Olaniyan among others. Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi was to give keynote. He was however represented by Bauran Kano and District Head of Rogo, Alhaji Muhammad Mahraz Karaye.

The kernel of the keynote was the need to support the traditional institution in order to consolidate development at the grassroots especially in the areas of fostering peace and unity among Nigerians. Also, the Kano monarch advocated constitutional roles for royal fathers.

The invitation of Emir of Kano as keynote speaker, Alhaji Karaye concluded, would continue to strengthen the relationship between Osun and Kano states.

In his opening remarks, the chairman on the occasion, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who was then the governor of Osun State when Laminisa I mounted the throne on March 5, 2008 revealed, publicly for the first time, how the selection tussle following the passage of the Laminisa’s predecessor was resolved amicably, to the extent that other notable contestants later joined hands with Oba Adesola Lawal in piloting the affairs of Ede community.

“We went through the process without rancor,” said Oyinlola while congratulating the monarch “for sustaining a peaceful reign in the last 10 years. There have been progress, unity and peace in Ede community,” he said, emphasizing that “these are the pre-requisites for development.”

Oyinlola also canvassed strengthening of traditional institution, particularly as a vehicle of good governance, conflict resolution and effective security and community policing.

Earlier, the chairman of the planning committee, Professor Siyan Oyeweso stated that activities, commemorating Laminisa’s 10th year on the throne were significant, signposting the steady developmental strides and social economic growth that was being witnessed since enthronement of Oba Lawal 10 years ago.

He acknowledged the invaluable contributions of Ede sons and daughters, as well as friends of the ancient city, first, to the success of the 10th coronation anniversary, but most important, to the growth of the town, stating that they should continue to support the monarch until Ede attain its prime position, not only as great and historic city in Yorubaland, but also as a contemporary city of 21st century in terms of modernity and preservation of cultural and artistic heritage.

Speaking on Repositioning the traditional institution and local government in contemporary Nigeria, Prof. Adesina wondered whether the choice of the topic was a reflection of an on-going conversation between the traditional institution, local governance structure and the Nigeria state.

He therefore, began the lecture with some fundamental questions. “First, is there a conversation going on between the traditional institutions, local government administration and contemporary Nigeria? Secondly, how do you go about repositioning the traditional institution, an institution that has survived centuries of challenges?

Thirdly, is there still in existence an authentic third tier of government known as the Local Government Administration? Fourthly, is contemporary Nigeria interested in any form of repositioning?”

While emphasizing the need for regular and consistent interface between the traditional institution and local government system, he asserted that only proper understanding of “our realities” would bring out the gains of such interface.

He however, declared, “One thing is really very obvious: the history of the Local Government arrangement in this country is the history of both repeated injuries and usurpations.”

The historian explained further: “We must by now be tired and disillusioned about our local governments. This is because the third tier of government, which had raised the hopes of our people in the past, has proved to be an introduction to a new sense of tyranny and human debasement.

“Once a resounding celebration of hope and freedom, the LG system has now become our heavy iron chain of slavery. As a result, we have developed a deeply critical insight into the hypocrisy that is governance in Nigeria.

Prior to the 1976 LG reforms, local government had been the responsibility of the regional governments, and each region’s system ‘reflected its colonial experiences and the forces of regional politics during the first republic.’

“Historically, therefore, we are all living witnesses to the levels of contradictions that created the LGs over time and then bound them up in chains.

We have created in the LG system the imagery of bondage and underdevelopment. This is antithetical to the design that gave rise to the LG systems in other parts of the world.”

To Prof. Adesina, traditional institution and royal stools remain “symbols of our cultural uniqueness as a people.” Besides, they serve as repository and custodians of revered cultural traditional values and norms.

As royal fathers, therefore, the fundamental role, according to Adesina, is to “constantly imbibe in our people the need to respect our cultural values, which teaches tolerance and respect for one another.”

He went down memory lane comparing the role of the traditional institutions in pre-colonial times and now. He argued that in pre-colonial times, the traditional institutions, most importantly, the Chieftaincy institution displayed a remarkable resilience, leading their people to war to defend, protect and extend their territories.

But the nature of warfare for the chief in contemporary times has changed. “The enemy is now poverty, hunger, disease, squalor, illiteracy, crime, injustice, environmental degradation, depletion of resources, greed, covetousness, ignorance and conflicts.

“These are the challenges of the new millennium. The pomp and pageantry associated with the institution mask the onerous responsibility and challenges that confront the modern chief.

Chiefs are under pressure to achieve good governance in their traditional areas within the parameters of the on-going debate that seeks ways of integrating tradition with modernity.

In contemporary times, chieftaincy has come under strain: chiefs have to deal with succession to high office; transparent management of local resources for development and pre-occupation with the quality of life of the people over whom they exercise customary jurisdiction.

“This has to be achieved in an increasingly globalized world characterised by emphasis on democratic governance, human rights, health delivery, employment, human development, regional integration and related challenges.”

He faulted what he described as “clear mis-reading of the moral powers and responsibility they possess,” the derogatory statement that “our chiefs are also now hungry and powerless,” so, tackling of these challenges may be difficult.

Adesina insisted, “without doubt, how successfully our traditional rulers are able to deal with the challenges stated above will determine their places in history.

They can therefore no longer hold in cold comprehension the activities of our local governments across the country. They are the owners of the land and its peoples. Without their cities, towns and villages, there can be no local governments.”

He, therefore, recommended a convergence of tradition and modernity in a “more organized fashion.” He explained further, “We have now come to a stage where tradition and modernity must work together in a more organised fashion.

Our traditional institutions must reconnect with the grassroots and government in a way that would help to redefine the intellectual trajectory of development and governance in this part of the world.

“In essence, the Council of Chiefs’ meetings should now as a matter of urgency, transform into a tool of social and economic development where the serious business of governance is discussed. It should no longer be a point for laying claims to hierarchies, superiority and personal matters.

We are tired of listening to who is more superior or older. Our youths are jobless, our people are hungry, our roads are bad, and our towns are insecure That is what we are concerned with now.

The ‘Council of Chiefs’ meetings should become ideological, philosophical and enduring grounds and conclaves for charting the path towards sustainable national progress. Every ruler should now take a cue from that roadmap established by the collective.

Let the songs of economic development, safety, freedom and progress begin now. That is the sound of the future. It is the only sound we are happy to hear now.”

The hard truths captured in the lecture, which put members of the audience on their edge, were softened by cultural performance by the Baptist High School cultural group and screening of the documentary entitled: Ede: A home of tertiary institution, culture and hospitality.


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