“With the gathering I see here today, I am beginning to renew my hope in Yoruba historically known for our pace-setting accomplishments in Nigeria even before independence,” cinematographer and director of Main Frame Production, Tunde Kelani, said this shortly after a summit on ‘Security and Insecurity: Role of the Traditional Institution’, organised by the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), was declared open by the Osun State governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, inside the centre’s Ulli Beier Hall in Osogbo, on Wednesday.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, had arrived in Ile-Ife where he was hosted by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. That development informally set the stage for other first-class traditional rulers from Osun and neghbouring states to storm Osogbo as participants at the summit.
Governor Oyetola acknowledged the contributions of traditional rulers in addressing the security situation in the country, pointing out that the traditional institution is the closest body to the grassroots and the custodian of the people’s culture and tradition. He added that crimes emanate from homes, communities, villages and towns, thereby making the traditional institution the first port of call on security matters.
He, however, noted that the scale of current insecurity constituted a danger which, according to him, needs new approaches and willpower to fight. He also commended the CBCIU for the summit and for choosing eminent resource persons to share their knowledge on possible solutions to the problems.
“At moments of peace and at all times, it is the function of the traditional rulers to teach and encourage their subjects, including parents, guardians, youths and children, to embrace and promote our cherished values of peace, good neighbourliness, love, tolerance, honesty and hard work in the interest of communal and national peace,” the governor said.
Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was represented by his Commissioner for Arts, Tourism and Culture, Professor Rasak Ojo-Bakare. His paper dwelled on history and cultural evolution of Yoruba and role traditional institutions played in enforcing law and maintenance of peace. Fayemi charged traditional rulers to live up to their responsibility as custodians of culture and tradition, warning that their continued folding of arms would spell doom for the society.
The Sultan and the Ooni also examined the security challenges confronting the nation and concluded that injustice and collapse of value system should be urgently addressed in order to get a reprieve.
They also observed that the active involvement and collaboration with the traditional institution on the part of government were germane to checkmating banditry and wanton killings in the country.
Sultan Abubakar said: “There cannot be peace and security if there is injustice in any society. Similarly, good governance cannot thrive if there is injustice. Nigerians should be bold to speak the truth. Don’t feel threatened by any governor, politicians or traditional rulers.
“We have crisis of value. How did we degenerate into kidnapping, killing people without taking anything from them? Killing people in the name of what? Somebody mentioned a pastor faking his own kidnap. Why did we go down so low? We need to go back to the roots and find out how we can salvage the situation.
“The problems with this country have always been from us the elite. We can correct the issues in this country if we want to. We are the ones who use the common man who doesn’t have anything to get what we want.”
Oba Ogunwusi charged Nigerians to expose criminal elements in the communities.
He said: “Traditional rulers are representatives of God. They are the ones governing the towns and communities. People still go to traditional rulers when there is problem. When there is breakdown of security, the nation or any society loses grip. Any leader that cannot secure property and lives is not worthy to be a leader. Such leader should resign honorably, having failed in his responsibility.
“It is about time to know the real roles of traditional rulers. It is time to give the traditional rulers the opportunity to secure our society the way our ancestors and forbearers did it. We should be talking about solutions to security problems. Enough of talk show! In the North-East, vigilante groups are being set up by communities. Emirs and district heads are giving the headway in terms of security.
“That is why we set up Amotekun in South West and all traditional rulers are being carried along because we know our people. Amotekun has come to stay. Nobody is pushing for the disintegration of the country. What we want to do is to set good leadership example on how to secure our people.
“I want to appeal to all that whoever is bad in your communities, push them out. Don’t harbour bad elements. Push them to those palaces and district heads and they will be appropriately dealt with.”
A former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, in his speech, expressed conviction that it is not too late to pull Nigeria back from the brink and save the country from Boko Haram, banditry and the myriads of other security problems that are threatening its corporate existence.
Oyinlola, who is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the CBCIU, lamented the present precarious security situation in the country, saying the country had almost become the modern version of the Hobbesian state “where life is nasty, brutish and short.”
He, however, expressed confidence in the ability of traditional rulers to inspire the restoration of the country to the path of peace, security, growth and development, given their history and reputation as effective intelligence and security officers in their respective domains.
Oyinlola explained that the focus of the conference on security vis-a-vis the role of traditional rulers was informed by “the time-tested truth that at all times when things threaten to fall apart for our nation, the lot always fall on our fathers to do the pull-back from the brink.”
Oyinlola commended the armed forces, the police and other security forces for the sacrifices they have continued to make daily so that Nigerians could be safe.
He also lauded governors for being alive to their responsibilities despite what he called the constitutional and legal absurdities that had made them chief security officers of their states without any power over all security organs operating in their states.
“I refer, specifically, to the Amotekun Initiative which appears to have suddenly woken up the Federal Government to the urgency of increasing its efforts at securing the lives and properties of Nigerians,” the retired military top brass added.
The Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Dokun Abolarin and the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Abdulrasheed Olabomi, played a significant role at the summit as moderators of discussion sessions and both displayed capacity which underscored their experience as informed former public officials.
One of the resource persons, Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, dazzled the audience with her perfect combination of intellect and Yoruba intelligence, especially when she mounted the stage and paid obeisance to the traditional rulers in Yoruba language, an action which earned her a rousing applause.
Ademola-Olateju also charged the traditional rulers to look inward in search of solutions to insecurity in their domains, saying the monarchs had no justification to claim ignorance of developments in their towns and communities.
In his address, highly resourceful Executive Director of the CBCIU, Professor Siyan Oyeweso, said: “We have gathered here from all corners of Nigeria not to throw blame on government or agencies of government or to castigate any ethnic group or social entity as the cause of insecurity in Nigeria, but to holistically interrogate the security challenge in Nigeria and look at how the traditional institution can provide alternative solutions to the numerous challenges confronting our nation.
“Presently, insecurity has become the order of the day and nobody is free, including traditional rulers. It will be recalled that there have been reported cases of kidnapped traditional rulers all over Nigeria. In 2011, nine traditional rulers were kidnapped, 2015 witnessed four cases, 2016 had eight cases, while 2018 recorded 11 cases. As it appears, the government is presently overwhelmed by this level of insecurity in the country. This state of insecurity has shown that there is the need for an alternative mechanism to confront this ugly trend.”
Traditional rulers at the conference include the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; the Owa Obokun of Ijesa, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran; the Orangun of Ila, Oba Abdulwahab Bibire; the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin; the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; the Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Dokun Abolarin and the Elerinmo of Erinmo, Oba Michael Ajayi.
Others are the Olugbon of OrileIgbon, Oba Francis Alao; the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Abdulrasheed Olabomi; the Olorooruwo of Ororuwo, Oba Qamrudeen Adeyemi; the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who was represented by the Agba-Akin Olubadan, Chief Lekan Alabi and the Timi of Ede, Oba Adesola Lawal.