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Ilorin Journal of History and International Studies (IJOHIS)


Order in society is grounded in power and so it is a natural phenomenon that in every society, there is bound to be some people to lead and others to be led. Again, in every society and its institutions, there are always the elements of continuities and change. This paper examines the changing roles of traditional rulers in Igbominaland, Eastern Yorubaland. It is ironically and lamentably worrisome to note that the once absolute and multi-tasking monarchies who were indispensable reference points in their domains, have in contemporary times been clamourers for recognition and relevance in the governance of the country. So, the problems and prospects of the traditional rulers’ roles were examined. The papers concludes that since the citizens who are central to democratic sustainability are greatly influenced by the traditional institutions; the Federal government should as a matter of seriousness, delegate a formidable constitutional role to the royal fathers rather than relegate them to the background. This research fuses the investigative approaches of a range of disciplines including revision of copious literatures on metaphysics, religion, culture; reliance on archaeological sources, archival materials and oral interviews. It is hoped that the study would contribute to the growing literature of the African Cultural Studies.


Traditional institution remains the oldest surviving socio-cultural cum political institution which has served as the proof for social security, cultural heritage, national cohesion and development. The fusion of government, religion and morality in indigenous African societies enabled the stability and harmony of the community to be maintained by means of ritual action of a regular kind performed by the family, village or community. The study establishes that the twentieth century was an era of change and innovation in both the concept and practice of leadership not only in Igbominaland but Africa at large. Traditional rulers received rude shocks because of the baffling and unsettling innovations which colonial rule introduced. Even though traditional institutions had till date survived the test of time in spite of all travails; evidently, the trend had been from being at the centre of authority in the pre-colonial times to dwindling functions in modern politics. In spite of their diminishing functions due to constitutional impediment, the roles and prospect of traditional institution in nation building continue to wax stronger considering their accessibility, responsiveness and long lasting institution. They do not only preserve cultures and traditions, they effectively settle land and other disputes by customary arbitration; officially welcome visitors coming to the community; represent the community in local and state functions, serve as watchdogs as they hold the key to the success or failure of security administration in their respective localities because they operate at the grassroots and interact closely with the people or their representatives on regular basis. Traditional institution is the shock absorber and cornerstone on which the various communities rest and depend. It is consequent on their security surveillance, intelligence reports and from all others said and done, that traditional rulers ever remain indispensable in shaping the structure of both the traditional and modern politics in Nigeria.


Traditional Rulers, Crisis of Relevance, Democratic Culture, Igbomina


MLA, Pp. 56-82