THE ROLE OF TRADITIONAL RULERS IN MAINTAINING PEACE AND HARMONY IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
It is important to concede that the area of the study has attracted the minds of various scholars and researchers. Yet it is the concern of this study to examine and relate such research endeavors on traditional authority to the contemporary security challenges in Nigeria. The exact nature and patterns of governance-cum, socio-economic inter-relationship between the traditional rulers and contemporary security situations will improve our understanding of the criminal justice system specifically in resolving issues of socio-political insecurity and religious conflicts thereby restoring social order, peace, harmony and stability. The general objective of the paper is to examine the role of traditional rulers in security administration from pre 1804 period, 1804-1903, 1903-1960 and 1960 and beyond; identify the structures, institutions as well as social changes on contemporary security in Nigeria. This is done by comparing roles of leadership of traditional rulers. The study will significantly contribute towards research efforts to dispute the claim. The findings of this research hopefully will put the roles and legacies of the traditional rulers into proper perspective to bear on the contemporary security situation/matter in Nigeria.
Security as a basic human need is important to the individual community. According to Alemika (2015) security is a contested concept, it means different things to different people and it also a contested practice, security for a group may constitute insecurity for another group. Therefore, security raises ontological debates about its nature and scope. Is there such a thing as security? There are two perspectives on the ontology or reality of security. The first perspective argues that security depicts a reality, a feeling and a condition. The second perspective conceives security as a label attached to a condition that someone considers undeniable. Balogun (2004:1) observed that man‟s primary and engaging concern has been that of survival and protection; from the vagaries of nature, natural disasters and from the ill-intentions and misdeeds of his fellow man community.
By traditional institutions, it refers to the indigenous political system or arrangements whereby leaders with proven track of records are nominated, appointed and installed in accordance with the provisions of their native laws and customs (Malami, 1978, Orji and Olali, 2010). The essence of the institutions is to preserve the customs, traditions and cultural heritage of the people and manage conflicts and violence arising among or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people.
In our day to day language we often hear the word traditional rulers in our society. The concept refers to the indigenous arrangements whereby leaders or persons by virtue of heredity or people with proven track records are nominated, appointed and installed in line with the provisions of their native laws and customs. The essence of the institution is to preserve the tradition, the customs, cultural heritage of the people and to manage, settle and resolve disputes/conflict arising within or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people in that particular community or society. Generally, they are seen and referred to as the custodians of their people‟s norms, cultural values and practices. Adding on conceptual clarifications, Malami (1978:11) has identified three categories of traditional title holders that derive their titles from and through the traditions of the people, although the traditions vary from time, place and depth of cultural roots.
Firstly, those holding literally honorific titles, conferred on them by superior traditional rulers in recognition and appreciation of the service rendered to the society. This category has no schedules or specific functions seen as a good chain of information and agents of conscientizing or mobilizing people when the need arises. The second category are holders of titles or positions due to recent recognition or creation of such titles.