Traditional Rulers and Community Development

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Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
Publication Date: May, 2020

Peace Oluwatoyin Irefin
Department of Sociology, Federal University Lokoja
Kogi State, Nigeria

Journal Full Text PDF: Traditional Rulers and Community Development (A Focus on Ikono LGA).

Abstract
This research paper is focused on the Ikono people and their paramount ruler who is the head of the traditional rulers in the Local Government, and village heads in the respective villages. The objectives of the study are targeted at finding out the community development project carried out and assessing the extent of traditional rulers to make positive impact in community programmes. The theory used is modernization theory propounded by Max Weber (1964). The population for the study consists of the nine (9) towns of Ikono Local Government Area. Based on the analysis of the data collection, the following result emerged, traditional rulers make positive impact in community development programmes in Ikono. There is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing governmental rulers at grassroots level. There is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing recruitment into their high offices. Some recommendations were also made to obviate the role of traditional rulers in community Development which include; traditional rulership consultative and programme management committee should be set up. Local government chairman and councilors are executive council sessions with traditional rulers. Seminars and training programmes like workshop for leaders and development of skill should from time to time be organized to enhance the roles of traditional rulers. However, to achieve the goals of good traditional rulers, grassroot participation and community/rural development, local government traditional rulership consultative and programme committee (LGTCPC) should be set up in each local government council. In this, the elected officials and the grassroots governors (traditional rulers) should consult and exchange ideas on issues of concern and mutual interest affecting the Local Government Area and individual communities.

Keywords: Ikono people, traditional rulers, community development, positive impact, local government, seminars and training programmes.

1. INTRODUCTION
The traditional rulers institution is based on the Weberian concept of traditional authority derived from system of customary rights and duties. In Nigeria, traditional rulers belong to the category of those who main distinguishing mark is ascribed status.
Traditional rulers are those who claim to be of royal birth in the sense of being descendants of people who founded dynasties in the past history of their specific areas, and as a result of this gained respects from the common people in their territories.
There has been changes in the role of traditional rulers in Nigeria as it applies to community development, since the introduction of local government reforms of 1976 in the said reforms, leadership roles were clearly expressed, which state that it is not the intention of government to destroy the organic unity of the traditional institutions. The traditional Emirate and Chiefdom will remain, although their functions will be changed to accord with the present day circumstances. Although the paramount of Chiefs was undone by colonial rule, traditional rulers have served as important adjuncts in the administration of post-colonial government in both Nigeria and Africa (William F.S. Miles, 2007). Local government are creations of state government. As such, the Akwa-Ibom State government under the delegated power enacted the 1976 local government edict No. 14 of 1978. This in effect streamlined the procedure for the selection, recognition and roles of traditional rulers. This therefore formed the constitutional framework for traditional democracy by a community selection of an acceptable ruler. There were the warrant chief during the indirect rule system, and the then colonial government recognized local chiefs who performed as native court judges. The first class chiefs were recognized in the Ikot Ekpene Division of Nigeria during the colonial era. All these sets of traditional rulers in Ikono have been that of development in line with the development of present democratic dispensation in the country. Therefore, it has become necessary that they redefine their role as traditional heads of their domains within the framework of development and its adjuncts, as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO).
Traditional rulers in Ikono remain for a variety of reasons important as the designing and implementing of develop-projects within their area of jurisdiction is concerned. Their core function includes mobilization of their communities for development purposes. This includes the provision of infrastructure to enhanced standard of living within the community. Sometimes traditional rulers initiate development projects and secure the support of both internal and external development agents for the execution of these projects.
Ikono Local Government Area is usually referred to as the cradle of Ibibio nation. It occupies the northern fringe of Akwa-Ibom State next to Ini Local Government Area which occupies the northern most fringe of the state. It is predominantly inhabited by the Ibibios, the largest ethnic groups in the state. The people of Ikono trace their roots to a place called “Ibom” in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, from where they migrated and spread to other parts of today’s Ibibio land.
Ikono is one of the four largest Local Government Areas in the state, the others being Oruk Anam, Ibiono, Ibom, Essien Udim. It came into existence in September, 1996 when it was carved out of Itu Local Government Area. The people of Ikono are great farmers who cultivate both cash and food crops, palm tree, kolanut trees, cocoa trees, cassava, maize, melon, etc. They are also traders and among the Peculiar cuisines of the people is a soup called “efere nsanai” which is often prepared during festivities like marriage, burials, civic receptions, etc.
As a result, Ibibio is made up of six (6) sub-cultural groups.
These include:
i. Eastern Ibibio or Ibibio Proper.
ii. Western Ibibio or Annang.
iii. Northern Ibibio or Enyong.
iv. Southern Ibibio or Oket.
v. Delta Ibibio or Andomilbeno.
vi. Riverine Ibibio or Efik.
The Ibibio people are located in southern eastern Nigeria also as COASTAL SOUTHEASTERN NIGERIA. Prior to the existence of Nigeria as a nation, the Ibibio people were self-governed.

The Ibibio land consists of nine (9) towns which include the following;
– Ibiaku District
– Asanting District
– Mbiafun District
– Ekpene/Ediene District
– Ikono South District
– Nung-Ukem District
– Aka Ekpene District
– Ndija Ekpene District
– Itak District
All these towns have heads and village heads in the respective villages and the paramount ruler is the head of all traditional rulers in the local government.
To maintain peace and order, traditional rulers of Ikono then use certain agencies like Age-grades and secret cults like the “Mfam” because the chiefs were the custodians of the tradition and culture of the people. It was their duty therefore to lead their people, the chiefs could bestow honor and dignity in the form of chieftaincy title on any citizens. They were judges in settlement, they hold the land for the people and they are normally appointed from royal families.
With the constitutional development in Nigeria, the development of political parties, economic expansion, the growth of towns, the spread of western education and the emergence of new elites, that is the professionals like Teachers, Accountant, Lawyers, Clerk etc. The authority of traditional rulers declined when Nigeria achieved independence the traditional rulers Institution was almost phase out of government.
In the colonial era, traditional rulers were not completely relegated prior to Independence in Nigeria, House of chiefs were created for them. At the local level, they were visually elected to local councils (region)
Finally in the present day, although their power have declined, they still have a role to play as far as contemporary governance activities are concerned in Nigeria.

2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The traditional ruler in Ikono Local Government Area, knowing well of their role and expectation in the area of jurisdiction most often deviate from these role and expectation which brings about change and usher the community into development. Although the traditional rulers have prominent roles in land disputes resolution, they have not been given a constitutional relevance or recognition to effectively and decisively act on land matters. Lack of inadequate training in the area of survey and map hinders them from discharging their duties. There are no adequate map and local survey data in their office and at their local government office that will enable them record and maintain land transportation.
Lack of capacity building in all it’s ramification that includes human and material to record and maintain such service which land conflict resolution requires on a continuing basis. Lack of constitutional recognition which will support and give legal backing in the discharge of their duties. Many land transaction are not recorded and where the document exist they are usually vague and ambiguous. This certainly lead to litigation and end up being a boundary issue depending on the location and the parties involved.
What then is the role of traditional rulers in community development? What are the constraints facing the traditional rulers in the discharge of their community development programmes? How can the role of traditional rulers in community development be improved in Ikono Local Government Area?

3. RESEARCH QUESTION
This work attempts to provide answers to the following questions formulated.
i) Can traditional rulers be able to embark on community development programmes in Ikono?
ii) How can traditional rulers contribute to effective sensitization of their subject through a good flow of communication?
iii) What kind of community development programmes have they been able to execute?
iv) To what existent have traditional ruler executed in mobilizing the masses for socio-economic development in the communities of Ikono Local Government Area.

4. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
For the research of this nature and quality to be conducted, this study assumed the following hypothesis:
Ho: Traditional rulers will be effective in carrying out community development programmes in Ikono.
Hi: Traditional rulers make positive impact in community development programmes in Ikono.
Ho: There is no significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing governmental policies at the grassroots level.
Hi: There is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing government policies at the grassroots.
Ho: There is no significant role played by traditional rulers in implanting equipment into their high offices.
Hi: There is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing equipment into their high offices.

5. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
A theory can be regarded as an attempt to explain events, forces, materials, ideals or behaviour in a comprehensive manner. The nature of social reality is complex that every social phenomenon is subjected to various analysis and interpretation depending on which of the theoretical realm. It falls (Yeacho, 2004). This research, therefore adopt modernization will be used as the analytical framework.

6. MODERNIZATION THEORY
Modernization theory is a theory used to explain the process of modernization that a nation goes through as it transition from a traditional society to a modern one. The theory was propounded by a German sociologist Max Weber (1864).
The modernization concept is use to mean introduction of new technology and new organization in colloquial terms, modernization means rendering something that is old fashion new or up to date to suit the requirement of modern time. Furthermore, modernization is characterized by all effort to bring technology, ways of life, social organization and models of production, modernization cut across the phases of life (Ega, 2005).

Pre-colonial Traditional Institution:
Before the advent of the Europeans, societies in Africa had evolved various system of political administrations based on the peculiarities of these ethnic nationalities. These institutions had full executive, legislative and judicial powers in their different domains and exerted sovereign control over their people.
According to Okolo (1976), the traditional ruler under Benin kingdom was at the head of a well-organized system of government. As the sole authority he was the legislature, executive and the judiciary. Traditional institution during the pre-colonial era was quite clear, since law and order were maintained through a normative system that was part of the general social structure though the system was not sophisticated, the machinery of government was organized enough to manage affairs, resolve tension and administered justice in the society. Also the institution was controlled by certain unwritten laws which ensure the security of the institution. This implies that, traditional rulers had positive impact on the evolution of political, economic and social institution in which they had dominant control.
According to Igwe Stephen Ngene Ede-Njoku, the political institution of the pre-colonial societies included the paramount chiefs, the council of elders, age grade and religious organization. The Ibos at the pre-colonial period did not have a single political authority: even though they were a contingent. Since the Ibos shunned the idea of having a single leader at that time, they operated a lineage system as a basis for political organization in such a way that a man could only lead member of his lineage hence, there were many influential and powerful men, their influence was limited to hamlet, clan and village and at that time, they operated a lineage system as a basis for political organization.
This political system was fashioned in such a way that a man could only lead members of his lineage hence, there were many influential and powerful men, their influence was limited to hamlet, clan and village and at most the area in which they lived. In every village, hamlet or clan, there was always a village head who emerged by virtue of age and who in collaboration of other elders settled disputes in that particular village. If the disputes involved another village the elders, led by the oldest from both village came together and resolved the disputes, especially those bothering on elopement and land, which was common at that time.

The Colonial Traditional Institution:
In the colonial era, the British system of colonial administration employed the system of indirect rule. Indirect rule was a British system of ruling her colonies with the use of local chiefs or other approved intermediaries and traditional laws and customs with British officials merely supervising the administration. Indirect rule used the existing traditional system of administration and it recognized the status of traditional rulers who served as the priest of indirect rule ( Abdullahi, 2007). The Advent of colonial rule ushered in a transformation in the role of traditional rulers. This change was necessitated by the desire to realize the objective of colonialism, which where to exploit the natural resources of Nigeria to meet the industrial needs of the capitalist metro poles. Traditional rulers were therefore used to serve these objectives.
According to Aidelokhai (2008), traditional rulers before the advent of colonial rule in Nigeria were the political, cultural, economic and social administrators and lords of their various domains. The status of traditional rulers changed with the advent of colonial rule as the colonialist who imposed their power on traditional rulers usurped their sovereign authority. This development was meant to enable the colonialist perfect their exploitation through the use of traditional rulers.
Crowder (1978) asserts that chieftaincy institution were maintained and used by the colonialist for colonial interest. The indirect rule in northern Nigeria attests to this fact. Arguing further, Crowder believes that whether they had fulfilled the entire traditional pre-requisite for assumption of office, which would have allowed them rule in pre-colonial days, their right to rule depend on the colonial authorities.
Afigbo (1972) asserts that the British instituted native courts and installed chiefs by warrant that controlled them. This was because the British believed that African people had to be governed by chiefs, therefore maintaining the organic unity of the Nigerian society. In effect many warrant chiefs solely constituted colonially backed usurpers of power and had little legitimacy beyond the fact of being installed by colonial state. Nevertheless, they had power and used it for their own gain. Their main source of power was control of native courts and labours for example; for colonial road and water way construction (Oforngoro 1982). Enugu warrant chief Onyeama was described as an “African god” by his grandson (Onyeama, 1982). He controlled the followers of labour to the emerging coal mining industry and established himself as a powerful ruler combining wealth, terror and magical power over his people.
Inspite of the subordination of the British overloads, it could be argued that the powers of traditional rulers were not eroded. Rather, the positions of rulers were strengthened. The Emir for example exercised stronger participatory roles in administration. This was because more powers of coercion were accorded to the native courts and the British Treated Emirs with caution. The rulers also exercised executive powers as sole native authorities which determined the pace and direction of local administration subject to British guidance and needs.
The above description of the role of traditional rulers in Nigeria during the colonial period show that, change occurred and traditional rulers assumed a new status. They were co-opted to perform roles that were completely opposed to the wishes and aspiration of the colonized societies.

The Post-Colonial Traditional Institution:
The role and status of traditional rulers in Post Independent Nigeria Varied through different administrations, they could be said to have remained agents for the perpetuation of our neo-colonial status, thereby upsetting the ongoing process of development in the country.
Nwankwo (1992) stated that chiefs are custodians of the land and they held the land in trust for the people. They served as a link between the rural people and the government. They assist the government in political education and socialization of the rural people. They acted as the custodians of the tradition religion, arts and culture of the people. They explained the customs and tried to preserve it. In view of the political administration, traditional rulers have been given limited authority to settle minor disputes.
In this regard also Axel (1998) asserts that traditional rulers try to make peace within the community and with neighbouring communities.
Oloko (1976) maintained that the traditional rulers were responsible for nation building task such as the maintenance of the main road linking their areas, the supply of man power for the kingdom’s army, the up keep of the royal capital and collection of taxes and tributes due at various time. In the socio-cultural aspect he continued that in their role as the patrons of the creative and expressive arts of their people, traditional rulers took active steps to encourage the work of talented African carvers, sculptors, potters and so on.
Nwankwo (1992) identifies some relevant roles played by traditional rulers in Nigeria during pre-colonial, colonial and even modern times. He stated that traditional rulers perform amongst others the role of making or contributing to law making and judgement, adjudication in disputes in their communities. They also maintain peace, order and security.
Kusamotu rightly, observed this and said “in recognition of the role which the traditional rulers is expected to play in the administration of his local community, the colonial government introduced the system of indirect rule which made the Nigeria traditional chiefs the central figure around which system of administration is resolved”.
It could be seen here that the colonial masters cleverly used royal fathers so as to be able to reach the grassroots in their colonies. Ironically now, they are being prohibited from going near the political terrain. The same colonialists, according to Nnanna, introduced” The policy of removing traditional rulers from civic and political relevance by improving the policies of their home country, the doubtful position of these royal fathers confuse issues at times Oshisada quoting from Guardian of Friday, may, 17th 2002 said that “the Benin monarch lamented the sharp difference in position in subsequent to national government he said the military in particular had no role for them except when it fell back on them in times of crisis as means of arming the policies when the imperial government was faced with the problem of effective administration of this big country, contending issues made it expedient for the British government to resort to the native system of government. In this system of government, defended traditional rulers constitutional role is a matter for concern.
President Olusegun Obasanjo once suggested that the traditional rulers’ role be enshrined in the constitution. He further said that the traditional rulers had “serious role to play in the social, economic and cultural lives of their people.” According to guardian this was not the first time that the president show interest in assigning a role to royal fathers. At this first meeting with the Obong of Calabar, the president had said “that he was personally in favour of assigning a role to traditional rulers “whenever the subsisting 1999 constitution was amended” he said that the non-provision of a role for traditional rulers was one of the main deficiencies in the 1999 constitution”. Like father they are made to maintain peace and security in their different communities. Assigning them any other constitutional role might as well mean putting them into partisan politics which may not be the best for a father who should have the duty of reconciling his children whenever they have differences. The royal fathers are custodian of the different cultures in their different domains, knowing and being the custodians to their cultures enable them to work as advisers to the government through the institutions. The following roles seems to have been assigned to traditional rulers.
– Preservation of Public Peace
– Settlement of disputes among their subject

7. DATA ANALYSIS
This is done with a view to test the hypothesis formulated in this study as well as meeting the overall objective of the study..
The tools to be used in this chapter are percentage, cross-tabulated analysis, and hypothesis testing using chi-square (X2).
Mathematically, percentage is calculated thus.
% = Number of respondents in factor concerned x 100
Total number of respondent in all factor
In the case of X2, 5% level of significance is used and the formula to derive expected No of respondent is.
Expected respondents: Total number of respondent
Number of factors
Chi-square formula used in given by:

During the research investigations, a total number of 347 questionnaires were distributed by the researcher among the towns and 330 were completely filled and returned while 17 were not returned.

Table 1. DISTRIBUTION OF RESPONDENTS BY SEX

Source: From the questionnaire administered
The above table represents the distribution of respondents by sex. This shows that 220 males representing 67% are male while 110 female representing 33% are female.

Table 2. AGE DISTRIBUTION OF RESPONDENTS

Source: From the questionnaire administered
This table shows that the ages of the respondents ranges from 20-60 years 18% of while 27% are between the ages of 31-40, 43% are between the ages of 41-50 and 12% between 51-60 years. It shows that ages of respondents between 41-50 constitute the greatest number of respondents.

Table 3. MARITAL STATUS OF RESPONDENTS

Source: From the Questionnaire Administered
The above table represents marital status of respondents. 36.4% of the respondents are married, 21.2%are divorce, 24.2 are single and 18.2 are widows and widowers.

Table 4. EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF RESPONDENTS

Source: From the Questionnaire Administered
This table shows that out of a total of 330 respondents, 30.3% have post-secondary educational qualification, 27.3% are of secondary level, 24.2% primary level, 18.2% have no educational qualification. This shows that those with post-secondary education constitute the highest number of population.

Table 5. OCCUPATIONAL COMPOSITION OF RESPONDENTS

The table above illustrate the distribution/composition of occupational status of respondents.
This shows that out of a total of 330 respondents, a total of 90 representing 27% of the respondents are farmers. Civil /servants constitute 32% of 105 respondents, while 70 representing 21% are students and 18% are applicants this proves that civil servants constitute the greatest number of respondents.

Table 6. RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION OF RESPONDENTS

Source: From the Questionnaire Administered
This table shows that 220 representing 67% of the respondents are Christian, 9% are Muslims and 24% are of African Traditional religion, this shows that Christian constitute the highest number of respondents.

Section Two
Chi-Square
This section seeks to cover the research hypothesis and therefore the response to the question serve as data to represent the test of hypothesis.
In testing off hypothesis. The researcher made use of chi-square with the formular as given below.
X2 = ∑(OI– eI)2
eI

Where X2 = Chi-square
E = Summation
OI = Observed Frequency
eI = Expected Frequency

Expected frequency is calculated with
Total Number of Respondent
Number of Factor

HYPOTHESIS TESTING 1
Ho: Traditional rulers don’t make inefficient use in carrying out community Development Programmes in Ikono.
HI: Traditional rulers make inefficient use in carrying out community Development Programmes in Ikono.

Response Observed Frequency
(OI) Expected Frequency
(eI) Deviation

Decision Rule: X2 calculated is higher than X2 tabulated, therefore we accept the alternative hypothesis and reject the null.
Degree of freedom (df) = 3 – 1 = 2
Level of significance (5) = 5%
5% i.e. 0.05 = 5.991
Decision: Since X2 calculated value of 23.642 is more than the X2 critical value 5.991, therefore the null hypothesis (Ho) is rejected while the alternative hypothesis (HI) is accepted which state that traditional rulers make positive impact in community development programmes in Ikono.

HYPOTHESIS TESTING 2
Ho: There is no significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing governmental rulers in implementing governmental policies at the grass roots level.
HI: There is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing governmental rulers in implementing governmental policies at the grass roots level.

Response Observed Frequency
(OI) Expected Frequency
(eI) Deviation
OI – eI Mean Square Deviation
(OI – eI)2 (OI – eI)2
eI
Yes 214 165 49 2401 14.55
No 116 165 -49 2401 14.55
Total 330 E = 2600 23.642
Source: Questionnaire Administered

Decision Rule: X2 calculated is higher than X2 tabulated, therefore we accept the alternative hypothesis and reject the null.
Degree of freedom (df) = 3 – 1 = 1
Level of significance (5) = 5%
5% i.e. 0.05 = 3.841
Decision: Since X2 calculated value of 29.10 is more than the X2 critical value 3.841, therefore the null hypothesis (Ho) is rejected while the alternative hypothesis (HI) is accepted which state that there is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing governmental policies at the grassroots level.

HYPOTHESIS TESTING 3
Ho: There is no significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing equipment into their high offices.
HI: There is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing equipment into their high offices.
Response Observed Frequency
(OI) Expected Frequency
(eI) Deviation

Decision Rule: X2 calculated is higher than X2 tabulated, therefore we accept the alternative hypothesis and reject the null.
Degree of freedom (df) = 3 – 1 = 2
Level of significance (5) = 5%
5% i.e. 0.05 = 5.991
Decision: Since X2 calculated value of 78.19 is more than the X2 critical value 3.841,5.991, therefore the null hypothesis (Ho) is rejected while the alternative hypothesis (HI) is accepted which state that there is significant role played by traditional rulers in implementing equipment into their high offices.

7. CONCLUSION
This study aimed at finding out the role of traditional rulers in community development. This study revealed precisely that traditional rulers are the major agents in transforming the attitude of the rural people provided they are transparent and ever ready to carry their people along.

8. RECOMMENDATION
Studying the role of traditional rulers, article examined and identified obstacles to community development embarked by traditional rulers in Ikono Local Government Area. The following recommendation, are hereby offered for better performance of traditional rulers in community development in the future.
(1) Traditional rulers should be made to have more power in their communities in order to shape their political and socio-economic landscape to suit the wishes of the people at the grassroots level.
(2) The spirit of honesty, transparency and accountability should be the watch word of any traditional ruler.
(3) Seminars and training programmes like workshop for leaders and development of skill should from time to time be organized to enhance the roles of traditional rulers.
(4) Traditional rulers should be the principal agent of mobilization for all government policies.
(5) Traditional rulership consultative and programmes management committee should be set up, local government chairmen and councilors are elected officially and therefore, cannot have executive council sessions with traditional rulers. However, to achieve the goals of good governance, grassroots participation and community/rural development, Local Government – Traditional Rulership consultative and programme committee (LGTC PMC). They also, like other leaders should have constitutionally approved remuneration in view of the enormous burden they carry in maintaining law and order in their respective communities and mobilizing their subjects for self-help efforts in the absence of local, state or federal government’s presence.
Consultive and programme committee (LGTC PMC) should be set up in each local government council. In this, the elected of finals and the grassroots governors (traditional rulers) should consult and exchange ideas on issues of concern and mutual interest affecting the local government areas and individual communities which the grassroots governors and their traditional council of chief would supervise, monitor and ensure equitable utilization and protection of such projects.
This approach will not only bring local governments nearer to the people but also make the elected leaders and traditional rulers accountable and to see to the welfare of their citizens, subjects and communities as may be the reason for their existence.

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