Emirate Reforms: The Buhari’s Leap Towards Revitalisation of Native Authority
Mohammed Dahiru Lawal
No doubt, the Northern Emirate System has resiliently endured through decades of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial era in the Nigerian administrative system, one that no doubt has a direct bearing and impact on the masses at the grassroots level were development and prosperity is paramount.
With the current agitations to include Nigeria’s traditional rulers in its democratic process through constitutional amendments, the Emirate system has endured reforms that spans from the colonial period, especially from the 1950s to the Military eras, culminating in the present democratic system of Local Government Administration in Nigeria.
“We are still very vital in playing roles that impact on the people directly and if there’s a constitutional amendment tomorrow that specifies additional roles for us as traditional rulers, we are more than willing to accept that so long it benefits our people,” HRH, the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, told BBC Hausa in an interview monitored by ERMI.
No doubt, Emirs across history have been highly influential in bringing progress and development to their domain notable among this feat is their influence towards the spread of western education in Northern Nigeria especially between 1910 – 1946, being one of the major challenges facing the populace at the time.
In recent years, increasing prominence has been given to the strategic, economic, cultural and social relevance of traditional rulers in the Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
In the area of security and community policing for example, President Buhari has ensured to carry traditional rulers along in the area of his policy direction.
Lately, he met with the traditional rulers where he pledged his administration’s commitment to police reform.
The meeting, held at the Presidential Villa, between the president and a delegation of tradtional rulers from across the country led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, and the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
The president told the monarchs that “we have heard the loud cries of our youth and children, and we are attending to their concerns,” in an apparent reference to the #EndSARS protest by Nigerian youth for police reform, knowing that only the traditional rulers can deliver his message to their people better. Earlier, the Council of Traditional Rulers had met in Abuja where national socio-economic and security issues were deliberated upon, a move the Buhari Administration has always embraced.
While edging towards deliberate reforms for National Unity and promotion of Education, President Buhari last month, took his traditional reforms a step further by appointing 42 traditional rulers as chancellors and 27 other individuals as pro-chancellors of some federal universities and inter-university centres across the country.
In a statement by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, the President said that, “as royal fathers, these chancellors are expected to be the moral compass of the various universities to which they are assigned. They have been taken from their kingdoms and primary constituencies to other kingdoms and these appointments are expected to play a role in cementing relationships between communities in the country.”
Since coming on board, President Buhari has wasted no time in mobilizing traditional rulers towards achieving his administration’s policy direction. In June 2016, the President hosted several traditional rulers to a Ramadan Iftar where he used the opportunity in seeking for their support towards mobilizing the people in their domain to embrace agriculture.
“In food production, Nigeria, we can feed ourselves and even export. This is why we are seriously turning to agriculture; that is why I’m asking you, for our own survival as a nation state, keep on telling our people that whoever has a piece of land, please let him cultivate it even if he is going to cultivate what he will eat and feed his family,’’ President Buhari had told the gathering of traditional rulers which has in attendance, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV, Shehu of Bornu, Shehu al-Hajj Muhammad al-Amîn ibn Muhammad al-Kânemî, Ooni of Ife HRH Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and Obi of Onitshia, His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe.
He has since gone ahead to play host to traditional leaders individually at the presidential villa while still traditionally hosting them to an annual Ramadan iftar.
The President still goes on to pay homage in respective Emirate and Kingdoms some of which include Zazzau, Kano and Benin.
During one of his numerous visits to Kano Emirate, the President laid the foundation stone of the Kano–Abuja section of the Lagos–Kano railway modernisation project.
The rail project is part of the 25-year vision approved by the Federal Government for rail transportation in 2002. With the latest presidential and royal alignments in the marital front, no doubt better days are ahead for the prosperous revitalization of Nigerian Traditional institutions.