NIGERIAN CULTURE AND HERITAGE: A DYING TRADITION BY SADIQ UMAR ABDULLAHI.

Editor's Note: This article was written by Sadiq Umar Abdullahi, an Abuja based legal practitioner and youth activist.



(Eyo Festival. Image Courtesy www.nairaland.com)

To the most gracious, most noble and most royal Emirs, Kings and Chiefs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. With total gratitude to almighty Allah, I am most humble, obedient and respectful to your esteemed, prestigious and royal personality ordained by almighty God.
It is with a heavy heart and passionate, positive intentions for our culture and heritage that I would like to appeal to your better judgement and publicly pronounce my personal views which I consider a reality in our great country, and to inform your majesties that it is my personal opinion and I believe I speak for other citizens of Nigeria when I say our culture and heritage is dying and it is depreciating at a swift pace. Westernization has infiltrated our country’s culture and heritage making it superior to the old way of life we considered to be the only history we have in our nation.
I strongly believe that we the younger generation need to pull ourselves together and brain storm on how this important issue can be dealt with swiftly and amicably, under the supervision of elders like your royal selves and other leaders that share the same view. The bitter truth is that, it is very obvious that in 10 to 20 years, children that were born in this generation will have no regard for our traditional rulers and their emirates. Some of them might even go as far as constructing a theory that will depict the history of our traditional rulers as pioneers of slavery in the 19th century and even before then, when they read about how slaves were used in the old kingdoms. This could motivate them to disregard everything that has to do with our historic cultural heritage.
(Niger Delta Boat Regatta. Image Courtesy www.brookings.edu)
Your majesties, what I am trying to do is create an awareness that will depict the relevance of our traditional rulers and how rich and important our culture is, so people all over the world can see it, admire and appreciate our norms, values and heritage. With all due respect to the 1976 local government reforms, there is a growing general consensus clearly stating that it was a wrong decision and judgement to weaken the authority and status of our traditional rulers and their kingdoms to such a point that they are under state/local governments. I also believe our kings and their emirates should be independent of the government and they should be allowed to stand on their own and govern their subjects in a way they see fit because at the end of the day, no one knows their subjects more than the traditional rulers and no one can control their subjects and give them justice in a manner of fair hearing and judgments more than the Emirs and kings of those emirates.
(Durbar Festival, Kano. Image Courtesy: www.nairaland.com)
Presidents, Governors, Senators, members of the House of Representatives come and go but Emirs and Kings will forever remain until the day God almighty ordains their demise. To reiterate my statements and facts, it is clear that the prestige, value and significance of our traditional Emirs in the northern part of Nigeria and the Kings in the eastern and southern kingdoms are losing their status at an alarming rate which needs to be looked into. It is my belief that the issue of granting the emirates and kingdoms in Nigeria a more productive role, most especially with regard to security. This was one of the matters that should have been prioritized in the constitutional conference that was conducted in the year 2014 as opposed to the political situations of the six geopolitical zones of the country focusing on which part of the country gets what and who becomes what. The traditional rulers of Nigeria have been marginalized almost to the point of extinction and if things continue at the pace in which our country is being governed, then, economic, security and unlawful conduct will rapidly prevail in our societies.

I see no reason why our Emirs and Kings should be subject to the authority and discretion of the State and Federal Government which puts them in an unproductive role in societies and reduces their status and power so low that even a local government chairman is considered superior to them. With all due respect to the Federal and State government, it is obvious that our traditional rulers know their subjects and the terrain of their emirates and kingdoms more than anyone else.
This demise and low standards that have been invoked on our traditional rulers has made them vulnerable and gives ample room for scrutinizing them even by the lowest of the low among the Nigerian citizens, thereby giving any individual and government in power, both the young and old the ability to treat them with utmost disrespect and threaten them to comply with their wishes due to the fact that they can depose them and at the same time impose whom they want in order to protect their interest, as the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives them the authority to do so.
Image result for new yam festival
(New Yam Festival. Image Courtesy: www.zyrnolink.blogspot.com)
Our culture and heritage is very important and it is imperative that we preserve them as history will judge us as the generation that contributed to its demise. Our traditional emirates and kingdoms should be autonomous and independent from both the Federal and State government. They should play a major role in the administration of the country at both State and Federal levels, working hand in hand with government as opposed to just playing a supervisory role in our society. The emirates and kingdoms need to move at a pace which modernization and the way time changes which will synchronize the efforts of running the affairs of the country swiftly and more effectively with precise and specific ideologies. Last but not the least, the northern Emirs, Southern and Eastern Kings and the Niger Delta Chiefs should encourage their local council members and personal servants to acquire a certain degree of education and literacy in order to keep up with the rapid change in globalization and modernization.
There is a threat that happens to be emerging from underneath the surface. It also happens to be inevitable and imminent and if things continue the way they are, then I’m sorry to say that in a decade or two, maybe even less, a government might emerge into power that will dissolve and reform all our northern Emirs and southern kings to local council Chiefs, leaving only His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) with royal status in Nigeria, knowing very well that if they dare try to reform those two institutions of religious significance, then chaos and anarchy will be the case. Violence and bloodshed will be unavoidable and absolutely destructive to the nation’s peace and unity.
Sadiq Umar Abdullahi. Bsc,LLb,MA,P.h.D
sadiqjust@gmail.com


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