The Roles of Traditional Rulers in Local Government

Mediation in Conflict: one of the major roles being played by traditional rulers is mediating in time of conflict. They mediate in conflict involving individuals or group of people in their communities and even between their communities and other community. By so doing, the traditional rulers are seen to be working with the local government to enhance overall peace and secure environment in the local government.

Because of the love people have for their traditional heads, it’s always easy for the traditional rulers to mediate and amicable pacify the tension and install peace. In some communities they made it as law that issues in their communities should not involve police or going to court. Those communities rely of the sound judgement of their rulers to give verdict on serious matters. It is only when disputes cannot be amicably settled by the ruler that the parties in dispute can take the matter to law court.

Tax Assessment and Collection: traditional rulers play important role in helping the local government to assess and collect taxes from their citizens within their areas of authority. Traditional rulers due to their closeness to the people can better assess the incomes of their subjects and propose tax amount to be imposed. Traditional rulers can arrange for taxes to be paid at a particular point and thereafter remit the money to the local government.

Custodians of Culture and Traditions: traditional rulers are the custodian of the people culture, arts and traditions. They also control traditional titles, offices and rituals. It is their duty to inform the local government when there are modifications in their cultural practices.

They also inform the local government of major cultural events and possible seek their participation in such event. The traditional rulers help the local government in maintenance and development of culture which is one of the functions of the local government.

Communication channels: traditional heads are channel of communication between the people and the local government. It is the duty of the traditional rulers to communicate government policies and programmes to the people in a manner they will understand and encourage them to actively participate in the programmes. They are also channel through which the people express their grievances to the government.

Mobilization of community resources for government or community initiated development: traditional headsassist the local government in sensitizing and mobilizing the support and resources of the people of their communities towards government initiated programmes and projects or even the ones initiated by the communities themselves.

Such mobilization is specifically in terms of engaging local resources, leadership potential and entrepreneurial abilities for effective and efficient implementation of development programmes initiated by the people of the community.

The traditional heads also help in effective mobilization of the community people towards the various government political, social, health, educational, agricultural or economic programmes as may be initiated by government from time to time. Traditional rulers help the local government in its overall effort at rural community development.

Maintenance of Security: they assist local government in ensuring security of life and property in their various communities. They do this through the framework of village or community neighborhood watch or vigilante groups and their membership of the local government peace and security committee and police relations committees.

Other roles of traditional rulers outlined below:

  • The traditional rulers are the fathers of their respective communities.
  • They are empowered to belong to or preside over the emirate or traditional councils whose primary responsibility is to maintain peace, law and order and stimulate community development in their various communities.
  • Traditional rulers through the emirate or traditional councils should from time to time, formulate general proposals, which they offer as advice to local governments within their areas.
  • They are expected to discuss through their traditional councils then specific problems affecting local governments of their areas generally and give advice and guidance on them.
  • They have the power to coordinate development plans of their local government by joint discussion and advice.
  • They help in tax assessment and tax collection within their areas.
  • They help to determine religious matters and give full support to Arts and Culture.
  • Traditional rulers control traditional titles and offices.
  • Traditional rulers through their traditional councils determine customary laws and practices.
  • They serve as important link between their communities and the government.
  • They assist in the compilation of nominal roll for community tax.
  • Traditional rulers help to accelerate the task of mass mobilization and participation of the people in community development programmes of their respective communities.
  • The role of the traditional rulers in the modern local government system is purely advisory. The emirate or traditional council also performs an advisory role to the local government.

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