by Bunmi Ibigbami

Policy Issues: Governance and Technology

In a meeting with the South west traditional rulers at the Aso Rock yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to empower south west rulers in the move against insecurity in Nigeria. According to the report, the FG promised Community policing i.e. policemen will be recruited from the community and the installation of CCTV along highways, in a bid to reduce the tension in the very sensitive part of Nigeria- the South west.


‘Institutions include informal constraints such as traditions that raise the benefits of cooperative solutions to societal problems’.[2]

Insecurity has been a feature in Nigeria, as conflicts in different parts of the country have continued to make lives insecure. The Federal Government has made several efforts to address these conflicts. For instance, the Federal Government in 2009 proposed an amnesty programme which led to some militants surrendering their arms. Also, the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011 was passed to criminalize terrorism, ‘through installation of CCTV in some parts of the country, enhancement of surveillance as well as investigation of criminal related offences, heightening of physical security measures around the country aimed at deterring or disrupting potential attacks, strengthening of security agencies through the provision of security facilities and the development and broadcast of security tips in mass media’.[3] Despite these policies, the level of insecurity in the country is still high. Therefore, an effective involvement of the traditional rulers in combating insecurity has the potential of yielding positive outcome.

In the pre-colonial administration of Nigeria, various ethnic groups developed traditional governmental systems which was a reflection of their culture, beliefs, and traditions of the communities.[4] In the past, the traditional rulers had great influence on the people of their community and their opinions were well respected even though they did not have formal political power. From the report, Ooni of Ife speaking on behalf of south western rulers claimed that traditional rulers know their people. ‘We know the good, the bad, and the ugly. That is why the government is taking it to another level by involving us directly on how to implement their initiatives’. This presumption is not usually correct because of the rise in urbanization, civilization and a huge increase in population growth.

In the same vein, the Ooni of Ife said they are not sending the Fulani away from their lands- only the bad ones should leave. According to him the bad ones are ‘spoiling the names of the good Fulani’. This is a diplomatic statement to make and it shows some element of ‘politics’ as the Oba might be saying this to find continuous favour in the eyes of the president. How firm and effective can traditional rulers be in implementing policies on insecurity? How can a ‘bad or potential bad’ Fulani be measured?

As we have seen from the reports, Buhari promised to fast track the installation of CCTV in communities. But how realistic, effective and ‘outcome driven’ will this project be? First, there is need for a unified data base of people in various areas ruled by traditional leaders in the country. This would help in keeping track of the activities of everyone. Unfortunately, Nigeria has no unified data base of its citizens.[5] Countries like China have sufficient CCTV cameras in their cities and this makes it readily difficult to carry out criminal acts with the aim of getting away with them.[6] But will this not be a violation of the right to privacy[7] in Nigeria? Also, the question of cost, exists. Developed societies have invested billions of dollars in cities counties, states communities, and critical infrastructure on electronic security systems such as CCTV surveillance systems. In Nigeria, who bears the cost? Security is under the exclusive legislative list, which suggests that the FG bears the cost. If they do, will the systems be valued by the communities since they got it freely at no cost? Also, who employs and pays the allowances of those in charge of monitoring the systems – the FG or the local government?

In conclusion, involvement of traditional rulers in combating insecurity in the country is important because it will have a great impact on the grass root communities in the country and the norms affecting societal behaviours. Also, the FG needs to involve Northern traditional rulers in its move against insecurity as most of the perpetrators of insecurity are reported to be from the north e.g. Fulani herdsmen and the boko haram. However, the preventive way of curbing insecurity would have been be for traditional rulers to establish and instil ethics, values and norms in its members, unfortunately times have changed and most the rulers now act differently.[8]


[1]FG may empower South West rulers in fresh move against insecurity by Terhemba Daka & Anthony Otaru on the 1st of August 2019 in the Guardian Newspaper (Online Version). Available at: Date accessed: 01/08/2019.

[2]See Douglass C. North (1991). Institutions. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 5, No. 1. (Winter, 1991), pp. 97-112.

[3]See I.C. Achumba, O. S. Ighomereho & M. O. M. Akpor-Robaro (2013). Security Challenges in Nigeria and the Implications for Business Activities and Sustainable Development. Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development ISSN 2222-1700 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2855 (Online) Vol.4, No.2, 2013. Available at: Date accessed: 30/07/2019.

[4]Traditional rulers and their roles in Nigeria by Zain Agu in November 2018 in the Legit.  Available at: Date accessed: 01/08/2019.

[5]Why does Nigeria not have a unified database? By Yinka Awosanya on the 3rd of March 2015 in the Blog. Available at: Date accessed: 01/08/2019.

[6]Government’s silence on herdsmen atrocities worsening insecurity on July 14 2019 in the Punch Newspaper. Available at: Date accessed: 01/08/2019.

[7]Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

[8]See Robert L. Tignor (1993) Political Corruption in Nigeria before Independence. The Journal of Modern African Studies. Vol. 31, No. 2 (Jun., 1993), pp. 175-202. Available at: Date accessed: 01/08/2019.