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Why Traditional Rulers Deserve Constitutional Role – Oba Ajibola



Oba Joachim Afolabi Ajibola, Agungesoye II, is the Ojurin of Ijurin-Ekiti, Ijero local government area of Ekiti State. In this interview, he speaks on the need to ensure constitutional role for traditional rulers.

What is your take on the clamour for constitutional role for traditional rulers?

Certainly yes, there ought to be and there should be. You see most of the problems we have today in the country is because the political class has relegated the traditional institution and rulers to the background. The traditional institutions are the closest to the people. As a traditional ruler, I live among my people. We sleep together, we eat together, and we work together, so there is nothing I do not know about my people. But when a governor that sits at the state capital just decides to dish out instructions without consultation with the traditional rulers, how does he expect the subjects to obey him?

During the time of my forefather, you can hardly hear of rise in armed robbery in our local communities, towns and villages because we have measures for stopping criminals who indulge in criminality. People in my community, for instance, in the 60s, if somebody goes to farm and steal the yam or something from his neighbour’s farm, there are ways of punishing him. You put him and his family to dance around the village or town, in public glare and that is usually a shame that his wife and family cannot contain. Therefore it serves as a check against somebody doing something bad. Or you go befriending the wife of your friend and they catch you, they bring you to the palace and in public glare, everybody sees you as somebody who has done what is not good in the community. So it has a way of checking these vices. But these days everything that happens, they say police should come and handle it.

The police, what do they know about the community? If the traditional rulers are given constitutional roles they will be able to advice the government on how to move the country forward, check the armed robbery and other vices in the society and influx of foreigners into the communities because they know their people.

Do you agree with most Nigerians that politicians have failed the country?

There is no doubt about that. But there is room for correction. They should consult with the traditional rulers who have been managing the people before the advent of civilization and party politics.

What do you think can be done to remedy the situation?

You see, until they are able to get their acts together and brace up for sincere service through good governance, we will still have issues in this country. We have read in the dailies and watch on televisions about our past politicians’ unnecessary accumulation of wealth which have deprived us of development. We have millions of youths today that are unemployed. How many states today have industrial estates? In the days of Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, we have cocoa plantation,  farm settlements every where in Yoruba land. In those days, we have warehouses in Ikeja, Lagos and Ibadan. The politicians of those days were futuristic. They were planting cocoa and other things that can guarantee jobs for our young school leavers. But these days, how many governors can boast of places where school leavers can be gainfully employed? Politicians have failed us and until they get their acts together and serve the interest of the common man, serve the interest of the community; serve the interest of the nation, we cannot move forward. They have failed us woefully and we need to change.

How can Nigerians get the best value from our leaders?

Thank you very much. It is going to begin with you and me. We must change our selection process because what we have currently is faulty.

We can’t continue to blame the government when we as a people have refused to learn from our past mistakes. People get the type of government they deserve. It is because the government has failed the populace that is why the populace now says, “okay, well, these governors, when they get into government, they don’t remember anybody until the next four years so when we are to decide who governs us, we must ask the politicians, what can you give us because we know we won’t see you again until the next four years.” That attitude must stop. That is at the root of the alleged vote buying they say played out in our recent elections in Edo, Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti and most recently in Osun. We also need to tackle the issue of poverty in our land. There are some people in the rural areas that have not seen N5,000 for a whole year, so when they are given N5,000 just to thumb print and vote, they will collect and do it because they know they will not see these politicians again after the elections until next four years. The methodology is also key. A situation where people are disenfranchised by politicians during the selection process through what they call indirect primaries throw up the wrong people at the end of the day. Most of the delegates and politicians involved in the selection process in most parties in Nigeria are essentially there for their selfish interest and not for the good of the masses. We must reintroduce a more open and transparent method like the option A4 if we want to get our electoral process right.

To what extent has the anti-grazing law passed by Ekiti State helped in mitigating conflict between farmers and herders in the state?

I believe it helped very much even though I don’t have the details of the bill. But for the fact that Governor Ayo Fayose spoke against ant-grazing law at that particular time, brought succour to the entire area. I guess by now there would have been tension in Ekiti State.

That pronouncement that he will not allow this thing in Ekiti State sent jitters into the government and the entire nation and some other governors, took a cue. If not for Governor Fayose, may be what we are witnessing today would have been different.

Why do you think the people rejected the PDP candidate in the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti State?

Ekiti people did not reject Governor Ayodele Fayose or the candidate he supported. What you should know is that in every contest, one person must win. Election has come and gone, about 33 political parties took part in that election and one has certainly won. So it is not a question of rejecting the governor. It is a matter of one party wining and what is important is that the person that won should accept the victory with humility and work with every Ekiti indigene to move the state forward.

What are your expectations from the incoming Governor Kayode Fayemi?

Dr. Kayode Fayemi have been there once and he has been elected again. Now that he is here for the second time I expect that he is going to improve on his performance. He contested the other time and lost and from what I know, he also said that he has learnt his lessons. So, whatever reasons that made him to lose in 2014 he would have noted those weak points and this time it is for him to improve on them. For instance, majority of the workers, teachers were opposed to his election then, maybe because of his actions and measures he introduced at that time. The long term advantage of which many of them could not see. Not that most of those measures are bad. They are futuristic. I believe very much that when Dr. Kayode Fayemi comes to power this time around, he is going to improve tremendously on the achievements he recorded during his first tenure.