el-Rufai, Traditional Rulers And The Way Not To Go

By Jim Gami Makama
“The cynic is a man, who knows the price of everything, but knows the value of nothing,” Oscar Wilde.
Superficial leaders place much premium on the cost of everything, they plan to execute, implement or run, and don’t give a single care on the value of what the program, project or institution will add to the people or society at large.

The world ‘Traditional Ruler’ entails the reign of a monarch or a titled ruler vested with the authority to rule over a people in their affairs of life. It’s then right to say therefore, that traditional rulers and those institutions are very vital in bringing development closer to the people as well as the community they reside. There has been change in the role of traditional rulers in Nigeria as it applies to community development, since the introduction of local government reforms of 1976, in the said reforms, leadership roles were clearly expressed, which states that, it is not the intention of the government to destroy the organic unit of the traditional institutions, the traditional institutions will remain, although their functions will be changed to accord with the present day circumstance.


Traditional rulers have served as important adjuncts in the administration of post-colonial government in both Nigeria and Africa. Historically, in Pre and post-independence Nigeria, traditional rulers were assigned constitutional roles, it is perhaps as a result of administrative expediency that the British very much involved traditional rulers in their government. They have been custodian of cultures, remain important in the design and implementation of development project within their jurisdiction, mobilization of their communities for developmental purpose, broker peace among worrying factions in the community and serve as a unifying factor. The relevance and essentially of the traditional institution in the 21st century cannot be over-emphasized.

Driven by the over zealousness to cut cost of governance and reduce the running cost of government, the leadership of Gov. El-rufai set to scrap 3,000 District Head in Kaduna state. A committee for restructuring of the traditional institution has recommended to the state government. The committee recommended the scrapping of the positions of 194 district heads 2,927 Village Heads, as well as 634 council members and auxiliary staff of the traditional institutions. The committee said the restructuring had become expedient because ‘Most of the new districts were created based on political considerations and funding them had become major constraint to infrastructural development at the grassroots level’.


In refuting the Gov. El-rufai quest of sacking the traditional councils, his learned aides and counsels have failed to draw his attention to the December 28th 2000, Kaduna State Gazette on the Establishment of Traditional Councils and Districts in Kaduna state, which midwifed the birth of 29 Chiefdoms and districts spread across the state. Therefore in amending an existing government gazette which is a legal state notice, and a product of legislation, there is need therefore for the said item to pass through a process of legislative amendment, which must pass through several committee level in the State House of Assembly, through public hearing and possibly a referendum to create room for the people to vote for or against the said bill seeking for amendment, of which the government has failed to do that. The all-knowing Governor only went on to form a kangaroo committee, consisting of mostly civil servants, who will do anything to protect their jobs, no wonder the half-baked recommendation they presented at the of their so-called findings.

The assertion held in the committee’s recommendation that ‘most of the new district were created based on political considerations’ is a hoax. This districts created by former Governor Ahmed Makarfi was to first break the jinx of the long years of Zaria (Zazzau) absolute monarchism and to give room for equal rights and freedom to various ethnic nationalities in the state that have been harbouring the feelings of servitude, inequality and subjugation, and for the supreme purpose of fostering peace to avoid the reoccurrence of ethnic and religious crisis which has been a reoccurring decimal in Kaduna state in recent years. Another reason the committee banked on, was the reason of fund, Funding the traditional institution, to the government has become too huge a burden to carry and the only way to cut-cost is to sack them.


My questions then are; how has the previous government been funding this institution? How much is the total cost of salaries of the traditional council that the present government can’t handle? Where then is the truth in the governor’s assertion that the state and local government joint account system will be abolished? The Kaduna state governor has been cutting cost right from inception and we are yet to see a drastic reduction in the government recurrent expenditure, rather figures are over blown to enrich the few in the government circle.
Gov. Elrufai should have a rethink on this proposed sacked, we know how digital our societies have been transformed, but yet the place of the traditional institutions still remain relevant, the quest of making Kaduna Great again cannot be achieved without the instrumentality of the traditional council, we should see the need for the creation of more district that will accommodate more economic activities, social development, industrialization hub and mass housing units, to curtail the issue rural urban drift and to decongest the city centre, this institutions are vitals in ensuring peace and harmonious coexistence, and still remain vital to the political success and failures of leaders, Gov. Elrufai should remember that a stitch in time always save nine.
Gami wrote in from Kaduna and can be reach on: [email protected]
Twitter_handle: @jimgami

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