The Role Of Traditional Rulers In Community Development (A Case Study Of Umunya, Anambra State)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Chapter One


The traditional ruler ship in the early era of Nigeria community which keep to the laws and norms of the society and the governance of the traditional rulers created mutual relationship between the citizen and the leaders. Expressing strong concern for community development and mandating sanitation, meet the government as regard to community development project and citizen well being.

Looking at the position and intensive key responsibility of traditional rulers in Nigeria community development has change. The role of traditional rulers in Nigeria as it concern to community development, in view of the fact of the introduction of local government reforms of 1976 in the said reforms, leadership roles were clearly expressed, which states that it is not the purpose of government to destroy the organic unity of the traditional institutions. The traditional emirate and chiefdom will remain, although their functions will be changed to accord with the present day circumstances.

Although the paramount of chiefs was undone by colonial rule, traditional rulers have served as important adjuncts in the administration of post-colonial government in both Nigeria and Africa (William F.S. Miles, 2007).

This in effect rationalized the process for the selection, acknowledgment and roles of traditional rulers, therefore, formed the constitutional framework for traditional democracy, by a community selection of an satisfactory ruler.
There were the warrant chiefs during the indirect rule system, and the then colonial government recognized local chiefs, who performed as native court judges. The first class chiefs were recognized in the middle belt of Nigeria during the colonial era. All these sets of traditional rulers contributed in no small measure, to the upliftment of community development (ojo, 1976).

The role of traditional rulers has been undergoing change as the democratic dispensation within the country develops. It has therefore become necessary that they redefine their role as heads of their polities within the framework of developmental efforts by the central government and its adjuncts; as well as, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (Wilhelmina. J. Donkoh, 2002: 105-114).

Traditional rulers Of Umunya, remain for a variety of reasons, important to the plan and realization of development projects within his area of control. Their core functions include recruitment of their communities for developmental purposes. This includes the provision of infrastructure for enhanced standard of living within the community. Sometimes, traditional rulers initiate development projects and secure the support of both internal and external development agents for the execution of these projects (Wilhelmina. J. Donkoh, 2002:105-114).

Traditional rulers work in conjunction with their subjects and therefore carry the whole community along to accomplish development projects that will be of benefit to the entire community. Thus, this study is aimed at finding out the role of traditional rulers in Umunya local government area of, Anambra State.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Traditional rulers over the years from the pre-colonial society were the custodian of the people’s culture and tradition. They were also involved in the western government as introduced then from colonial days. Records had it that some traditional rulers were members of the house of Chiefs in the Northern part of the country during the period of 1944 –1951.

Traditional Rulers also legislated along side with the Regional Houses of Assembly.

The situation gradually changed as independence approached. It was worsened after independence. It became confusing that many issues were raised after the enactment of the 1979, 1989 and the 1999 constitutions. Some of the envisaged problems facing the traditional institutions are:

  1. The constitution of Nigeria made little or no provision for traditional rulers.
  2. Traditional rulers in the country are not well funded.
  3. Corruption among traditional rulers had weakened their powers.
  4. Many traditional rulers are easily manipulated by political and military leaders for their selfish purposes.
  5. Many traditional rulers only reign and not rule.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The research is aimed at unveiling the roles of the traditional rulers in community development in Umunya, Anambra State , their impact in government and how they can contribute to a more viable united Nigeria.

In this effort, the researcher shall delve into the past and shall critically examine the present to enable him project into the future.

To be concise, these objectives are:

  1. To examine carefully the roles of traditional rulers in community development in Umunya, Anambra State
  2. To evaluate their roles and effectiveness over the years to the present democratic government
  3. To examine if they have become more or less relevant and determine why they are so as the case may be.
  4. To make recommendations where appropriate to the local government and other levels of government towards the enhancement of the Nigerian polity.

1.4 Research Questions

In order to have a thorough grasp of the understanding of this research, certain questions need to be asked. These are:

  1. What are their traditional ruler roles in community development?
  2. How has the constitution enhanced the roles of traditional rulers in the country?
  3. What are their problems in governance in Umunya, Anambra State?
  4. How have they lost their votes in modern governance in Umunya, Anambra State?
  5. How have they performed in their responsibility in Umunya, Anambra State?
  6. What precipitated the weakness of traditional rulers in Umunya, Anambra State
  7. What makes traditional rulers to reign without ruling?

1.5 Proposition

  1. Peace and harmony in governance is the bedrock of national unity.
  2. Traditional rulers are the custodian of custom and tradition.
  3. Good governance with respect to the Nigerian democracy cannot be achieved without the grassroots mobilization.
  4. National development and progress shall be elusive without the support of traditional rulers.

1.6 Limitation

The study is carried out within the purview of traditional rulers in community development Umunya, Anambra State, Nigeria.

However, data shall be collected from the Umunya Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The reason is that the Researcher believes that he might not be able to access the state council of chiefs at the Federal level and Council of states.

It was in consonant with the 1999 constitution that the Researcher chooses to study the roles of traditional rulers in the traditional council at the Umunya Local Government Area of Anambra State.

1.7 Significance of the Study

The research work is directed at contributing to knowledge of the Nigerian politics. These are:

  1. It is aimed at knowing the relevance of the traditional institution, roles and contribution to the community development in Nigeria.
  2. It is also significant in knowing the extent of involvement of traditional rulers in this democratic dispensation.
  3. The study is also of great importance since it shall reveal the connectivity or relationship that exists among traditional rulers and community development government.
  4. It shall also indicate the area of weakness so that improvement and adjustment can be made so as to improve the Nigerian state.

1.8 Methodology

This encompasses how the researcher intends to carry out the study. It is divided into sources of data collection and data analysis.

Sources of Data:

Data shall be collected from primary and secondary sources.

In the case of the former, the researcher shall randomly distribute 100 questionnaires to people in Umunya, Anambra State. Twenty questions shall be asked and the questionnaire shall be collected the same day.

In addition, oral interview shall be applied. Here, the researcher shall adopt a simple random sampling by asking some dignitaries in the Local Government Secretariat and the Umunya palace questions.

However, this interview shall be unstructured since the situation and respondents can be dynamic.

Finally, existing records and documents shall be cross-examined as they relate to the role of the traditional institution in the locality.

Data Analysis:

The data collected shall be presented orderly for analysis. It is the intention of the researcher to use simple percentage in the analysis.

Each question shall be analyzed by the responses of the people across the board. Finally a deduction shall be made from the respondents opinions and a conclusion shall be drawn to that effect.

1.10 Definition of Terms

1. Local Government:

The government at the grassroots level in a Federal system like Nigeria and headed by a democratically elected chairman or sole administrator appointed by the governor of the state.

1. Local Administration:

This is the system of administration controlled by chiefs

2. Relevance:

The importance or necessity, usefulness, etc. It could be operationalised as power or vote, etc.

3. Traditional Ruler:

Any head or representative of a traditional institution. It could also mean the paramount ruler of a kingdom, emirate or locality.

4. Votes of traditional rulers:

The power and influence of traditional rulers.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

This chapter forms the concluding part of the study. A brief summary of this work will be conducted, followed by recommendations that will enhance the performance of traditional rulers in community development in Umunya local government in future.

The essence of this research work was to assess the role and prospects of traditional rulers in community development. The chapter one of this work gave a brief introduction of traditional institution, problems were stated, researchable questions were asked, aims and objectives were presented, and the scope of the study was also presented. The chapter two of this work presented the review of traditional institution in historical perspective with structural functionalism adopted for the research work.

The chapter three of this work made use of cluster sampling, questionnaires for inhabitant and an in-depth interview held with traditional rulers. The research questions were analyzed in relation to certain questions in the questionnaires using simple percentage. The chapter four of this work presented the data collected and analysis which was in line with the research questions. The chapter five of this work will summarize the whole work which gives account to the entire research work and the conclusion which will present the general impression of the research, and lastly recommendation will be drawn to proper solutions and suggestions on how the role of traditional rulers/ institution will be elevated.

5.2 Summary

From the study, it is found that traditional rulers have succeeded in boosting community development through the provision of boreholes, rural roads, formation of co-operative societies, setting up of markets, construction of culverts, construction of earth dams, mobilizing people for health programmes and resolving disputes within their domains.

It was discovered that poor road network, illiteracy and financial constraints were obstacles to community development in Umunya. This scenario presented lack of access to long distance communities with non-passable roads, lack of understanding of projects initiated due to illiteracy as a result of low participation of community members in most projects initiated by traditional rulers.

5.3 Conclusion

This study is aimed at finding out the role and prospects of traditional rulers in community development with specific emphasis on Umunya local government area. This study revealed precisely that traditional rulers are the major agents in transforming the attitude of the rural people provided they are answerable to a titled ruler vested with the authority of governing the affairs of the people.

Based on the findings, the researcher has come to conclusion that traditional rulers have made a positive impact in community development to a degree.

5.4 Recommendation

In this study, the researcher has examined and identified obstacles to community development embarked by traditional rulers in Umunya local government. The following recommendations are hereby offered for better performance of traditional rulers in community development in future.

  1. Traditional rulers have to adopt the spirit of yearly dialogue amongst the subjects. The outcome of the yearly dialogue will create necessary report towards community development programmes.
  2. Wealthy individuals from Umunya local government can support the traditional institution to enable traditional rulers embark on gigantic projects.
  3. The entire population or community should be sensitized to respond to self-help development projects of the community.
  4. The resources realized for community development projects both money and materials should be utilized in such a way that the people will gain from them.
  5. The spirit of honesty, transparency and accountability should be the watch word of any traditional ruler.
  6. Seminars and training programmes like workshop for leadership and development of skills should from time to time be organized to enhance the roles of traditional rulers.

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