The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhamed made the disclosure in Ibadan Tuesday, at the opening of a two-day national conference on “Culture, Peace & National Security: The Role of Traditional Rulers,” held at the Prof. Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, UCH, Ibadan, organised by the National Institute of Cultural Orientation in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The minister, represented by the deputy director, External Cultural Relations, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Richard Makam, who noted that it was a known fact that there could be no development in an environment devoid of peace and security, observed that until Nigerians were able to entrench the culture of peace and non-violence the country’s polity, all efforts geared towards development would only be a mirage.
He disclosed that: “The president has therefore put in measures in place that threats to peace and national security are promptly dealt with. Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, restiveness in the Niger Delta, incidences of kidnapping and armed robbery and recently conflicts between herdsmen and host communities are some of these threats to peace.”
“There is no gainsaying that the achievement of sustainable peace and security in Nigeria is the responsibility of all stakeholders and not just that of security agencies. Our esteemed royal fathers, who are the custodians of our culture and traditions, the media, civil society organisations, religious bodies and everyone else have important roles to play in the quest for peace and security in the country,” the minister emphasised.
Speaking in the same vein, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, who was the key-note speaker at the conference, pointed out that it was an open secret that the country was no doubt, at a point of dilemma in terms of national security, adding that, it was imperative for the royal fathers to be sensitised and effectively mobilised them to complement the efforts of the government in the quest of entrenching national security.
Ajimobi, represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. “Gbade Ojo, argued that a number of security breaches across the country was not unconnected with failure of intelligence, thereby calling on the traditional rulers to work very closely with the government and also cooperate with security operatives in their domains.
The governor, while commending the security personnel in the country for their untiring efforts, also charged them traditional rulers to begin exposing miscreants in their domains, as he said, government could not do it alone.
“In pre-colonial Africa, our communities enjoyed relative peace. Why? Traditional leaders then were not only the custodian of our culture but security values. The process of cultural socialization is weakened now. We need to wake up and play our role as leaders, so that our children and generations yet unborn know what our societal norms and values are.
“In the past, criminals were exposed and ostracized from the community, but in our contemporary societies we unduly accommodate, shield and celebrate criminals.”
“Not only that, in terms of alternative conflict resolution, traditional rulers were very effective in the past. Today much of litigations in court end up with rancor and bad-blood,” Ajimobi added.
As a way of promoting cultural values, the governor posited that: “House of Assembly in each state may devote one or two days in a week to adoption of vernacular in the conduct of the business of the house. Not only that our mode of dressing too should be promoted.”
“Culture defines us as a being. Virtually everything we are is defined by our culture, language, custom, societal norms and values cum religion among others are dictated by our culture.”
He, however, charged the traditional rulers to wake up from their cultural slumber, just he said any human collectivity that fails to promote its culture and transmit same from generation-to-generation might eventually go into extinction.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the acting Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr.Louise Eriomala, added that the national conference was borne out of the fact peace and security of lives and property have been globally reorganized as a pre-condition for progress and development for any human society, hence the need for urgent steps to be taken to address the key issues that were capable of escalating conflicts, which he said, included poverty, ethno-religious conflicts, electoral violence, nepotism, inequality and marginalization.
He, however, called for the need for constitutional role of traditional rulers in the country in that regard.