Joshua Omoloye, Abuja
Traditional rulers in the country have been assured of constitutional roles in the proposed review of the 1999 Constitution undergoing process at the National Assembly.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan gave the assurance on Saturday at the Palace of Emir of Ilorin, HRH Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari while on a courtesy visit.
A statement by his media adviser, Ola Awoniyi said Lawan was in Kwara primarily to attend the launch of the 2022 Empowerment Programme of Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar who is representing Kwara North Senatorial District in the Ninth Senate.
Lawan was accompanied to the Palace by the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and senators are Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, (Senate Deputy Chief Whip), Bello Mandiya, Yakubu Oseni, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Lola Ashiru and Smart Adeyemi.
The Senate President said the ninth National Assembly believed that the roles now being played by traditional rulers should be accorded recognition in the Constitution so that they could play the roles even better.
“We believe, in the ninth National Assembly, that our Royal Fathers must have a role and a better and clearly official role and function in our constitution so that we can have an all-inclusive governance structure that will ensure that our Royal Fathers do what they are doing today in a more official manner.
“In the northern part of the country particularly and across the country generally, the traditional Institutions play a very key and significant role in stabilising our communities and our societies.
“We believe that these roles must be reflected and properly captured in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Thank God that we are now working on the review of our constitution. By the Grace of God, the National Assembly will finish its role of leading in the review of the constitution by the end of this month and send it to the States.
“The traditional Institutions have always been there and they are there longer than political Institutions. We face security issues. Insecurity is pervasive.
“Thank God, the Federal Government is not stopping at anything to restore normalcy. But the Federal Government and indeed all our security agencies across all the tiers of government cannot achieve the kind of the desired outcome without citizens’ participation and we believe that to mobilise the citizens, we need our traditional Institutions.
“That is where official participation of traditional Institutions in governance is very important and central. We are going to push for that by the Grace of God. We want to see it reflected this time around and by the time this is achieved, our traditional Institutions will now perform even better the functions they are already performing,” Lawan said.
Responding, the Emir of Ilorin, HRH Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari thanked the Senate President for the visit but told his guest that he and his traditional ruler colleagues had no intention to compete with any Institution.
He said they were not asking for a legislative or judicial role but just advisory functions.
“What we ask for is advisory participation. We are saying that there should be a Council of traditional rulers who could be sought to give advice and to take part in bringing sanity to the governance of this country,” the Emir said.