By Benjamin Omoike
The Lagos State Government on Thursday charged traditional rulers in the state on conflict resolution, fostering communal peace and economic development in their domains.
Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Dr. Wale Ahmed, gave this charge at a Retreat organised for traditional rulers in Lagos State, held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He said the theme of the retreat was, “The Role of Traditional Rulers in Conflict Resolution and in Fostering Communal Peace and Economic Development”, in Lagos State.
According to Ahmed, traditional rulers in Lagos had continued to be development catalysts, and respected agents for mobilisation for policy implementation, monitoring and review of policy options.
“So, your role which goes beyond being custodian of our tradition and culture can never be overlooked in the scheme of things, in a State like ours, where peaceful co-existence is paramount to the economic progress of the State.
“Conflict resolution is a long-standing traditional engagement of our Royal Fathers. This has been passed from generation to generation and effectively replicated in our contemporary society.
“This role has contributed in no small measure to the peaceful co-existence among people of different backgrounds and beliefs in our State, resulting in remarkable economic progress for Lagos State. We thank you for this but still request that you do more, especially at this period of challenges and un-provoked aggression among people,” he stated.
The Commissioner said traditional rulers had a special responsibility to uphold not just traditional values, culture and customs, but to also ensure that information dissemination flowed to all nooks and crannies and that residents in each community understood government policies and programmes in the simplest form, using preferably the indigenous languages.
Ahmed added that it was expected that as Royal Fathers and opinion leaders, they would properly and adequately educate their subjects, including youths, on what the government had been doing, and how they could play their own part, to help the government to deliver more dividends of democracy.
“And as the closest to the grassroots, the constant interaction with them puts you at vantage position, to get the message across to them, and to get their support and cooperation for meaningful development.
“This is not optional, but our collective responsibility to strengthen our co-operation for Communal Peace and Security. Retreat such as this is used to consolidate the interwoven synergy between the State and Traditional Rulers in greasing the wheel of progress of our dear State,” he said.
In addition, the commissioner noted that the retreat would offer the opportunity for purposeful engagement on these issues and more, and how they could leverage existing peace and stability in the State, to connect higher economic prosperity.
He urged them to be open-minded and profound in their submissions and engage resource persons on the various interesting topics lined up to map out ways for improved administration, especially at the grassroots; one that would stir towards the, “Greater Lagos Dream”.
Thanking them for their efforts so far in assisting government in their domains, Ahmed urged the traditional rulers to continue to cooperate with the government, and to support her effort at moving the State to the next level, in line with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s promise to the people of the State.
Speaking on the overview of the Obas and Chiefs of Lagos State Law 2015, Director, Legislative Drafting of Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Aderinsola Olanrewaju said that law guides the selection, appointment and recognition of recognised and unrecognised Chiefs in Lagos.
The idea was to familiarise the Obas to what the law says particularly about how declarations are made, the power to suspend, the power of the Governor under the law what they should do in case of impersonation, offences under the law, how to amend declaration, so that Obas would be able to relate to all these in respect of the law.
Professor of Law, former Dean of the faculty of law, Unilag, Akin Ibidapo-obe, during his presentation on “Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution Technique said that the role of the Obas and his Chiefs are mainly mediation and arbitration and like every other skills and line of education there is a need to be involved in order to improve skills at all time.
He stated that the primary function of the Oba is to resolve conflict by mediation and there should be an institute or council of traditional mediators that will not only serve the immediate community of the Oba, but can as well offer their services elsewhere.
He also advocated the need to recognise the important roles the traditional rulers are playing in mediation and arbitration and should provide a platform that will enhance their skills and give them a basis to reach out even beyond their domains.
Speaking on behalf of the Council of Obas and Chiefs, Oba of Lagos, HRM, Rilwan Akiolu commended the State Government for prioritising the intellectual empowerment of traditional rulers in Lagos, which is evident in a retreat such as this. He implored traditional rulers in the State to continue to commit themselves to and ensure they play their roles in ensuring that communal peace in their domains engender economic development across the State.
Other speakers include Permanent Secretary Primary Health Board, Dr. Akinwunmi Mustapha; Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, led other monarchs across the State to the event.