Senate Traces Nigeria’s Insecurity Challenges to 1976 Local Govt Reform

Ahmad Lawan

Wants specific roles for traditional rulers

By Deji Elumoye

The Senate yesterday traced the history of the country’s rising level of insecurity to the 1976 Local Government Reforms which it said created a vacuum of intelligence gathering at the grassroots level.

It has, therefore, canvassed for specific roles for traditional rulers in the current move to address the mounting security problems facing the country.

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who spoke after being conferred with the Ganuwan Kebbi title by the Emir of Argungun, Alhaji Muhammad Mera, at the National Assembly, submitted that the wave of insecurity bedeviling the country, particularly in the northern part, was caused by vacuum of intelligence gathering at the grassroots created by the 1976 local government reform.

According to him, the removal of traditional rulers from administrative structure of respective local government councils across the country through the reform, created vacuum for intelligence gathering at the grassroots which resulted in all manner of insecurity in the country presently from Boko Haram to banditry and herdsmen/farmers clashes.

Lawal frowned at the removal of traditional rulers from governance, particularly at the local government level by the then military administration in 1976.

According to the Senate president, “The traditional fathers have always been supportive of the government. We from the northern part of the country know in the past that the traditional rulers played a very key stabilising role in administration which is highly needed now.

“In fact, we need to have a proper formal role given to them, and more especially with the current security situation in the country. I am sure that the traditional rulers can provide a lot of support for the government and security agencies in fighting and winning the insecurity challenges that we have today.”

Also speaking to journalists on the problem of insecurity in the country at the sideline of the ceremony, the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the 1976 local government reforms laid the unfortunate foundation particularly in the North.

According to him, as far as intelligence gathering and the required mechanism of fighting crime at the grassroots are concerned in the North, traditional rulers, and by extension, the various Emirates, are the best solutions to the crisis.

He explained that before the 1976 local government reform, the rates of crime and criminalities in the North were low because of the active roles played by traditional rulers then.

“Unfortunately, the 1976 local government reform removed the traditional rulers from active role in governance at the grassroots and invariably created vacuum for effective intelligence gathering which has snowballed into big problem of insecurity in the entire North today as regards the Boko Haram, banditry, herders and farmers clashes among others.

“There is need to restore their role because there can be vacuum in power if you deny a group of people of required power or responsibilities; those unexpected will rush in to fill the vacuum as it is the case in the North now.

“Fortunately, the process of constitution amendment is ongoing, and would provide the opportunity for stakeholders in the country to fashion out constitutional role for traditional rulers at the local government level,” he said.