How Ironsi, Gowon, Obj Stripped Us Our Powers-Sultan of Sokoto - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

How Ironsi, Gowon, Obj Stripped Us Our Powers-Sultan of Sokoto

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By Our Correspondent


The Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers, Mohammed Saad Abubakar has accused the military particularly the regimes under Generals Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Aguiyi Ironsi of systematically stripping traditional rulers in Nigeria their constitutional powers and rendered them almost useless in the current scheme of things.

The Sultan’s statement is contained in a Memorandum calling for the reinstatement of the status of the traditional institution in the Nigerian constitution and establishment of relevant bodies to give effect to its national role.

The memo which was signed by 36 other first class traditional rulers was submitted to the Senate Adhoc Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution on Thursday.

Presenting the memo, Abubakar who was represented by Etsu of Nupe, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar noted that before 1960 traditional rulers played very prominent role in the constitutional structure of Nigeria; effectively taking charge of the Native Authorities

” Indeed, the Nigerian First Republic Regional Governments had bi-cameral Legislative arrangement with the Houses of Chiefs serving as the Upper Chambers to those of the elected Houses of Assemblies.

“The society was at that time progressive, peaceful, decent and full of beautiful ‘traditions and cultures. Lives and properties were sacrosanct and accountability and honesty were the hallmarks of the Traditional Local Administrations”.

The Sultan said all of that soon ended with General Aguiyi Ironsi’s 1966 Unitary Government Decree, General Yakubu Gowon’s and General Obasanjo’s 1967 and 1976 Local Government ‘Reform “Decrees respectively, stripped traditional rulers of their powers and gave same to the Local Government Councils thereby giving birth to the present insecurity and corruption.

He said from that moment on the traditional institution became relegated to the ‘background.

He further explained how the traditional institution had served the Nigerian State over the years and was useful for the colonial government, the military and even with contemporary politicians to stabilize the country.

Abubakar was however disappointed that the same traditional rulers no longer have the constitutional or other legal backings to perform effectively as they are not even mentioned in the 1999 constitution.

“This is a great departure from all earlier constitutions that recognized them, and even gave them some functions to perform.

Indeed all the Nigerian earlier Constitutions gave the Chairmen of the States Councils of Chiefs seats in the National Council of State alongside former Presidents, Chief Justices, etc”.

The Sultan and his Council of Traditional Rulers asked that their powers and role be restored to them as the National Assembly undertakes a review of the 1999 Constitution.

Speaking, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan recognized the role of the traditional rulers; stressing that there is the need now more than ever to give them greater responsibilities.

He said it may not be out of place to include them in the security architecture of the country.

In his welcome speech, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege who doubles as Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee said the National Assembly will work on the request of the traditional rulers and give it all the attention it deserves.

He however advised the traditional rulers to push their demand as far as they can by engaging and lobbying other critical stakeholders.

According to Omo-Agege, the Senate will require a 2/3 majority vote to pass the proposed amendment which he said has to be complemented by another 2/3 majority vote of the House of Representatives as well as the State House of Assemblies.