Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Traditional Institutions and the Challenge of Modernity in Nigeria and Côte D'ivoire

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Traditional Institutions and the Challenge of Modernity in Nigeria and Côte D'ivoire

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Traditional institutions arc the old-est and most enduring institutions of governance, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa like Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon. According to Orji and Olali (2010), traditional institutions are established based on native laws and customs, and thereby constituting indigenous social and political arrangements. Mengisteab (2005:285) suggests that African societies in the pre-colonial era had effective political and socio-economic institutions that were charged with law-making, conflict resolution, resource allocations and social control. Furthermore, Mohammed (2006) proposes that comprehensively, traditional institutions should include traditional leaders, royal families, council of chiefs, traditional security members, as well as royal historians and praise-singers. As the name implies, traditional institution is simply built upon or based on history, ancestry, culture, custom, religion and values of the people, and the institution principally revolves around the traditional ruler who serves as the head and chief custodian of the culture of the people. While African traditional rulers/leaders adopt different local titles, which simply translate to "king," some monarchs specifically in southwestern Nigeria, often derive their titles from founders of their respective independent or from major circumstances surrounding the establishment of their states or communities.

Typically, selection of persons into the offices of traditional institutions is mostly hereditary, except in a few cases (Nweke, 2012:206). For instance, in most parts of south-western Nigeria, the various traditions and customs, as well as the Chiefs Law and Declarations, require the kingmakers to notify the appropriate ruling house(s), who in turn nominate candidates when the seat is vacant. The kingmakers play a crucial role in the eventual selection of a suitable candidate among the nominated princes. They make consultations according to the various traditions and customs. However, modernity has influenced the manner in which candidates are selected. Among themselves, kingmakers often conduct elections in order to select a candidate among the princes vying for a vacant royal seat. The result is then subjected to the approval of the state government. In some cases, nomination of candidates is rotated among recognized ruling houses or royal families. In other cases, selection of candidates is based on a non-rotational principle, meaning, interested princes from all the recognized ruling houses have equal chances of being selected to fill a vacant royal seat. An uncommon succession case is that of the Ibadan1 Chieftaincy System, where the most senior chief in a hierarchical order is automatically elected to occupy the Ibadan throne.

Traditional rulers generally serve as political and spiritual heads of their respective domains. In fact, they combine executive, legislative, and judicial functions, as well as religious, economic and military roles. Odotei (2010) observes that pre-colonial traditional rulers maintained law and order as a prerequisite for the growth of their respective communities and the advancement of their subjects in all spheres of life, and as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, they reserved the right to declare and wage wars of defence or offence against the enemies of the state. Being custodians of tradition and culture, they arc expected to uphold cultural values and avoid acts that can desecrate the sacred royal seats. Usually, every traditional ruler has a council of chiefs, who serve as his administrative cabinet. The traditional council, under the headship of a traditional ruler, enact, interpret, and apply laws based on the community's customs and tradition (Odotei, 2010). Membership of such council of chiefs is usually hereditary and this is peculiar to the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria.

European colonial occupation greatly altered the political and socio-economic entities ol the Alocan governance structure ( Economic Commission for Aloca, 2007:6). …

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