The recent call by the Northern governors for formal governance roles for traditional rulers, while urging for government’s control and censorship of social media to address insecurity and forestall recurrence of recent breakdown of law and order is quite germane. This is more so considering the fact that traditional rulers are the custodians of cultural heritage which is critical to national security and cohesion.
The advocacy was the resolution of the Northern States Governors Forum (NGF) meeting with the Northern States Council of Emirs and Chiefs, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Wase, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Ibrahim Gambari, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Mohammed Bello.
Reading the communiqué after a four-hour meeting at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, Chairman of Northern States Governors Forum and Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state, said: “The meeting appreciates the roles of traditional rulers in containing the menace of #EndSARS protests in the North and collectively agreed that traditional rulers be given formal roles in the governance architecture of the country.
“The meeting took note of the devastating effect of the uncontrolled social media in spreading fake news. Therefore, calls for a major control mechanism and censorship of social media practice in Nigeria. The meeting rejects and condemns the subversive actions of the #EndSARS protest. The superlative agitations and other change-regime actions outside the ballot box which soon took advantage of the peaceful protests to push for their separative agenda. The meeting endorsed the indivisibility, indissolubility and oneness of the nation.
“Meeting raises attention on the need to keep a strict watch on the Federal Capital Territory to guide against unwarranted and destructive protests to safeguard critical assets of the nation. Meeting commends the National Assembly and the Presidency in being proactive in addressing the issues of #EndSARS protests across the country.
“Forum appreciated Mr. President and his cabinet for the quick intervention in meeting the demands of the #EndSARS protesters and resolved to give him the maximum support as he reels out measures to address the lingering challenges of youth unemployment, banditry and Boko Haram insurgency in the country. Forum appreciates the roles of the National Assembly in engaging the youths and other critical stakeholders of the nation in resolving the #EndSARS conflicts.
“Forum commends the roles of His Eminence, royal highnesses and other royal fathers in ensuring that the #EndSARS protests did not escalate significantly in the North, the Forum resolved to continuously engage with their royal highnesses in addressing this challenge. Appreciates the role of religious leaders, such as the Ulamas, JNI and CAN for their positive interventions in resolving the Endsars conflicts. The Forum also appreciated the roles of the youth for their response to the Endsars, in curtailing the spread of hooliganism, thuggery and other separatist tendencies. Forum notes the need to further push for amicable resolutions of ASSU strikes to enable students resume their studies.
“Forum calls for collective effort in addressing the lingering challenges of the North e.g. Almajiri system, insecurity, illiteracy, poverty, etc. Forum notes with satisfaction the actions taken by the Governors to revive the economic fortunes of the region particularly during the post Covid-19 period. Meeting resolved that there is the need for regular meetings of this nature. Calls for further engagement with other critical stakeholders such as religious leaders, business community, youths leaders, etc. Accordingly, the meeting approved the setting up of two major engagement committees; Committee on roles of traditional rulers and Committee on youth and civil society.”
Membership of the Committee on Roles of Traditional Rulers are Emir of Lafia as Chairman, two representative from the National Assembly; one representative from each of the three geopolitical zones; one from Federal Executive Council.
The Committee on Youth and Civil Societies is chaired by Emir of Zazzau with one representative from each geopolitical zones; one representative of youth from each of the geo political zones; one representative of women/girls; one Christian and Muslim cleric each; persons living with disability; business community; representative of the Inspector General of Police. The committees are to commence work immediately.
The Forum lauded the major reforms going on in the Police Force and pledges to support Mr President, just as the Forum resolves to support the Nigerian Police Force to serve the country better and calls for the strengthening of trust between the people and the Police. The forum condemned attacks on persons and properties, as well as attacks and burning of places of worship in some parts of the country in the name of #EndSARS protests.
We commend the proactive role of the Northern Governors Forum in the resolution of the #EndSARS protest and its threat to the nation’s sovereignty. The recommendation for a constitutional role for traditional rulers has become inevitable in the face of growing youth restiveness and activism which if not checked could plunge the nation into anarchy and conflagration. The fact that the traditional rulers called the youth to order leading to non-escalation of the protest in the north is a justification that monarchs in the country should be assigned specific roles in the nation’s constitution.