NGOs advocate constitutional roles for traditional leaders

From Beauty John,  Lafia

A consortium of Non Governmental Organisations, Global Peace Development (GPD) ActionAid Nigeria(AAN) and Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI), have called for clear and defined constitutional duties for
traditional rulers, as it relates to fostering  peaceful and harmonious coxistence and promoting security at the grassroots.

The Execurive Director of GPD, Mr Ebruke Esike, made the call during a  one-day community dialogue with traditional leaders and critical stakeholders in Nasarawa state, held in Lafia, on Wednesday.

Ebruke, whom stressed the crucial role traditional rulers play in fostering peace and security in their communities, lamented that the effectiveness of their roles is largely limited by its exclusion in the 1999 constitution, hence the call for inclusion.

According to Esike, traditional leaders exercise certain levels of influence on their people, therefore, there is need to arm them with basic and necessary information to educate their people on the importance of tolerance, which in turn would reduce conflict and violence in their localities.

“The target is to do a community dialogue with traditional rulers and critical stakeholders in the state, purposely to mitigate  the rising rate of insecurity in Nigeria,” he said .

The keynote speakers Dr Imam Muhammad Ali from Jamaatul  Nasrul Islam (JNI) and Very Reverend Obed Musa of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) whom presented papers on “Sustaining Community Dialogue, Surveillance and Security in Nasarawa State: Traditional Rulers Approach  and also, Role of Traditional Rulers in Fostering Inter-ethnic Harmony and Peaceful Coexistence, respectively, hammered on the need to empower traditional rulers seeing that they are the closest to the people.

“The traditional rulers, despite their importance in peace keeping in the country, do not have a specific role in the constitution. We are calling on the federal government to include them too,  just as the police have thier roles captured in the constitution, so should traditional rulers,” they said.

Dr Zainab Ahmed, former secretary to the government of Nasarawa state remarked that the dialogue is apt, considering the ongoing constitutional review meetings in the country as she appealed that a memo should be written at the end of the dialogue and presented to the review panel.

She however decried  the exclusion of women when issues of peace promotion and development is discussed, while stressing that traditional rulers cannot achieve peace alone without support from women and youth.

The project officer for AAN, Mr Aliyu Adamu said the dialogue is in pursuance of the Sytem and Structure Stregthinning Approach  Against  Radicalisation and  Violent Extremism (SARVE II) project in Nasarawa state, funded by Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).

“The aim of this meeting is to see how we can  have synergy and social cohesion where different actors can work together and when they go back to thier various communities, relay the messages and teach thier people to live  with one another,” Adamu explained.

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