The impact of traditional institutions as mediation structures in democratic governance

Traditional institutions
Traditional institutions
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THE IMPACT OF TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS AS MEDIATION STRUCTURES IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE, A CASE STUDY OF MBITOLU LGA, IMO STATE

Abstract

The traditional rulers are the paramount authority or natural ruler in any given Community. They provide a system of administration from which law and order came and provided a stable system of governance. The objective of this paper is to examine the role of traditional institutions in Nigerian Democratic consolidation. The study which is theoretical in nature basically draws its arguments from both primary and secondary data including textbooks, journals, articles and publications. The study reveals that the current 1999 constitution did not mention the traditional institution at all thereby reversing most of the gains the institution made over the years, traditional rulers possess accurate local knowledge going back many years and may also have good networks of communication with the grassroots through title holders, traditional ruler were accorded with responsibility during colonial rule, they were members of colonial administration apparatus they were given wide power over matters in their domain. The study concludes that, traditional rulers play a very significant role of informally managing conflict and peacemaking meetings when matters get out of hand, they also serves as advisory role to the local council.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the study

African countries are characterized by fragmentation of various aspects of their political economy, including their institutions of governance. Large segments of the rural populations, the overwhelming majority in most African countries, continue to adhere principally to traditional institutions. The post-colonial State, on the other hand, essentially emulates western institutions of governance, which are often at odds with traditional African cultural values and the region’s contemporary socio-economic realities. Fragmentation of the institutions of governance, along with economic and social fragmentation, has contributed to Africa’s crisis of state-building, governance, and economic development. Despite modest progress in some countries, the post-colonial State has been unable to establish rights-based political and economic systems of governance that would facilitate consolidation of state-building and promote economic development. To a large extent, this has been due to its detachment from the institutional and cultural values of its constituency. The prevailing state of poverty on the continent, the persistence of widespread ethnic and civil conflicts, and frequent electoral and post-electoral strife are some manifestations of the failure of the State. The persistence of traditional institutions as a parallel system of governance, which provides some level of refuge for the rural population, often alienated by the State, is also another indication of the failure of the post-colonial State. On the other hand, African traditional institutions are also not equipped to compensate adequately for such failure of the State. In addition to their local orientation, many of these institutions face various limitations, especially in the areas of accountability and gender equality. Many are also hampered by their inability to define and secure property rights, thereby raising the transaction costs of resource allocation to their constituencies. Moreover, the growing economic diversity and complex division of labour, which mark the present era of globalization, are largely beyond the scope of traditional institutions. These institutions are, therefore, unlikely to be able to cope with poverty alleviation among their constituencies without the stewardship of the State. Africa’s deepening crisis, is thus, unlikely to be reversed under the existing duality of institutions. The formal institutions of the State, i.e., rules regulating the structure of polity, property rights, and contracting, cannot be effective if they disregard or contradict the customary rules of the traditional institutions, which govern the lives and livelihood of large segments of the population. For instance, the State is unlikely to succeed in state-building and in mobilizing the cooperation of large segments of its citizens for socio-economic development without connecting itself to and harmonizing its political apparatus with the institutions, cultural values and interests of all its constituencies, including rural populations. The task of reversing Africa’s general crisis and realizing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s (NEPAD) concept of “African solutions to African problems” are likely to require integration of the parallel institutions of governance so that they can complement each other. Harmonizing the two sets of institutions, in turn, requires reform of both in ways that would make them democratic and amenable to integration into a coherent and effective system of governance. The age-long traditional institution is one that has not changed with time. This institution has provided a system of administration from which law and order came and provided a stable system of governance. It is important to point out that the belief among most Western scholars was that pre-colonial African societies had no system of administration: that is, no law, no order, no government, and no civilization. This belief has long been seen as not only very erroneous but grossly subjective (Fatile and Adejuwon, 2009). It has been known that traditional African societies, indeed, had well organized and well established systems of ministration where public order was provided and maintained; where laws were made and implemented; were intercommunal and intertribal conflicts were settled. This shows that traditional institutions have been a significant feature of the people and commanded a large degree of loyalty and respect among them. The general belief is that traditional rulers have no place in a democratic dispensation whereby only the elected are permitted to rule. By their mode of ascension to power legitimacy, exercised by traditional rulers is not generally acceptable (Erero, 2005). The above argument poses two fundamental questions. First of all, in a developing country like Nigeria where traditional institutions in some parts of the country still exercise much influence over their subjects, can their opinion be totally ignored? This question is more potent when even the elected representatives at all levels of government wide on their influence during election periods (Uche, 2007), when actually traditional rulers are supposed to be apolitical. The second question has to do with the fundamental rights of occupants of traditional positions. As citizens in their own rights, do they have a voice? Voice in the sense of contributing to the democratic process without being accused of partisanship, which will negate the general belief that they are fathers to all. Fatile (2010) posits that most occupiers of traditional stools across the country are now modern, more educated and career persons in their chosen field before ascending to the stool of their fore fathers. The immediate past Ooni of Ife, Oba Okenade Sijuade, was a successful international businessman. Oba Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos was a lawyer and an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG). The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sada Abubakar retired from the Nigerian Army on the rank of Brigadier General in 2006 and was even the Defence Attache to Pakistan, before his coronation as the Sultan. The Gbong Gwon of Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, was a comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service. The traditional ruler of Oko in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Obi Prof. Joseph Chike Edozien, is a professor of Nutrition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, from whatever way examined traditional rulers they remain relevant.

The age-long traditional institution is one that has not changed with time. This institution has provided a system of administration from which law and order came and provided a stable system of governance. It is important to point out that the belief among most Western scholars was that pre-colonial African societies had no system of administration: that is, no law, no order, no government, and no civilization. This belief has long been seen as not only very erroneous but grossly subjective (Fatile and Adejuwon, 2009). It has been known that traditional African societies, indeed, had well organized and well established systems of ministration where public order was provided and maintained; where laws were made and implemented; were intercommunal and intertribal conflicts were settled. This shows that traditional institutions have been a significant feature of the people and commanded a large degree of loyalty and respect among them. The general belief is that traditional rulers have no place in a democratic dispensation whereby only the elected are permitted to rule. By their mode of ascension to power legitimacy, exercised by traditional rulers is not generally acceptable (Erero, 2005).

  • STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

It is no news that traditional African societies, indeed, had well organized and well established systems of ministration where public order was provided and maintained; where laws were made and implemented; were inter-communal and intertribal conflicts were settle. However, in modern day democracy in Nigeria; where power is concentrated at the federal and state level, the functions of the traditional institutions has received little or no recognition. It is on this backdrop that the researcher intends to investigate the impact of traditional institution as a mediation medium in democratic governance.

    • RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

 

  • SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

 

 1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Nigeria traditional rulers

Nigerian traditional rulers often derive their titles from the rulers of independent states or communities that existed before the formation of modern Nigeria. Although they do not have formal political power, in many cases they continue to command respect from their people and have considerable influence.

Mediation

Mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques

Democracy

Democracy, in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliamentDemocracy is sometimes referred to as “rule of the majority

Governance

Governance refers to “all of processes of governing, whether undertaken by a governmentmarket or network, whether over a familytribeformal or informal organization or territory and whether through the lawsnormspower or language

1.8 Organization of the study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and also recommendations made of the study.

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