Abuja – The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has proposed an amendment of the Nigerian constitution to integrate traditional and religious institutions into the country’s security architecture.
The sultan made the call on Friday in a lecture he delivered at the National Defence College (NDC) titled “Traditional and Religious Institutions in Nigeria: Implications for National Security’’.
He said traditional and religious institutions had made valuable contributions in the nation’s campaigns against disease containment and social vices, to the admiration of many in the past.
Abubakar said the institutions’ wealth of experience could be useful in tackling emerging threats to national security, stressing that the model had worked perfectly in some countries around the world.
“With the emerging security challenges facing the nation and the wealth of experience at the disposal of our traditional and religious institutions it is time to do what is necessary to address the situation.
“We should, with all sincerity, endeavour to put in place the right constitutional framework to enable them address the daunting challenges.
“National Traditional Leaders Council had worked well in Malaysia, South Africa and many other countries with tangible results.
“The time may have come to revamp Nigeria’s security architecture and re-integrate the institutions into its matrix,’’ he said.
He said the advisory and advocacy roles played by traditional and religious institutions in the nation’s efforts to instil social sanity were not sufficient enough to tackle the situation at hand.
The cleric said key areas such as security monitoring and intelligence gathering had always been and would still be the integral part of the responsibilities of the nation’s traditional councils.
He urged the federal and state governments to urgently tackle the Almajiri issue in the northeast and northwest, which he noted had become worrisome and a security threat.
According to the sultan, there are more than 9 million children receiving education provided through the Almajiri system instead of through the formal system provided by governments across the regions.
He warned against allowing what he described as “petty political squabbles’’ to derail the ongoing efforts to restore lasting peace to areas devastated by social strife and insurgency.
Earlier, the Commandant of the college, Rear Admiral Samuel Alade, acknowledged the roles of traditional and religious institutions in nation building.
He said the acclaimed ideology of the Boko Haram insurgents had made it imperative for experts in the security sector to explore the roles of traditional and religious leaders in fostering peace.
The commandant expressed optimism that the lecture would help in shaping the opinion of policy makers in the security sector particularly in integrating traditional and religious institutions in its programmes.
Alade said: “This lecture is not only apt, it is by design, a subject at the heart of Nigeria’s contemporary realities.
“We look forward to tapping from the wisdom, knowledge and insights which our distinguished speakers will be offering us.
“The very important issue of religion and tradition on national security is most appropriate for discussion at this auspicious time in our nation’s history.
“ The nation is faced with terrorism and insurgency where religion and certain beliefs to some extent, interplay.’’
The lecture was part of the programme on Strategy, Statecraft and National Security designed for participants of the NDC Course 24.