Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III who is also chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers has accused the military particularly the regimes of Generals Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Aguiyi Ironsi of systematically stripping traditional rulers in Nigeria of their constitutional powers.
The Sultan made this known in a memorandum calling for the reinstatement of the status of the traditional institution in the Nigerian constitution and establishment of relevant bodies to give effect to its national role.
The memo which was signed by 36 other first class traditional rulers was submitted to the Senate ad hoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution on Thursday.
Presenting the memo, Abubakar who was represented by the Etsu of Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar noted that before 1960 traditional rulers played very prominent roles in the constitutional structure of Nigeria; effectively taking charge of the native authorities.
The Sultan said all of that soon ended with Ironsi’s 1966 unitary government decree, while Gowon and Obasanjo’s 1967 and 1976 local government reform decrees respectively stripped traditional rulers of their powers and gave same to the local government councils.
The Sultan and the Council urged the lawmakers to restore their powers as the National Assembly undertakes a review of the 1999 constitution.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said he recognises the role of the traditional rulers; stressing that there is a need now, more than ever, to give them greater responsibilities.