Opinion: Republicanism versus Monarchism and the Rule of law in Nigeria

By Barr Azubuike Ihemeje

Before the advent of colonial rule, the various parts that constitute Nigeria today were virtually under monarchical rule and control.

Administration after administrations, and successive constitutional reforms all gradually reduced, diminished and radically eroded the powers of monarchies in Nigeria.

Ironically, the colonialists have seemingly continued to sustain, revere and accord their monarchy essential roles, and greater participation in their government, thereby putting many Nigerians in more compounded confusion.

And because civilization is not very old here, our Republican system of rule equally nascent here, we, therefore, have not come to full terms with our subscription of Republicanism.

Concomitantly, this has occasioned severe tension, strong feelings and emotions whenever disputes arise between monarchism and Republicanism. Many continue to feel very strongly about it, whenever a monarch is being circumscribed in a republican system.

You will begin to hear stuff like; “the Governor has no power to touch our king, and he can’t desecrate our ancestral Stool, never! Our king does no wrong. Our king is not answerable to Governor. Our king is bigger than the Governor”; and all those misconceived and misguided positions.

This is clearly understandable, given our sentiments, leanings, customs, traditions, and above all, our lack of understanding of the Rule of Law in Republicanism.

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Flowing from the above, Questions, therefore, should be;
1. what’s the meaning of republicanism/monarchism?
2. And which one is being practised under the rule of law in Nigeria?
3. Which among both systems is now practised in Nigeria?
4. And which of the system often legally prevails in Nigeria?

Republicanism, which is the full practice in every Republic, which means a country without a king or queen, usually governed by elected representatives of the people whereas Monarchism envisages a sovereign head of state, especially a king, queen, or emperor.

Nigeria, as at today, has subscribed to the practice of the republican system of governance, and not a monarchy.
And it is the very nature of Republicanism, that to be governed by it, is to relegate every vestige of monarchism, and it’s sentiments to the background.

The moment you delegate, elect or nominate a particular person or persons to serve as your representative; you’ve willed and surrendered all powers to superintend, control, regulate, decide, execute and administer the affairs of state on behalf of all.

In Nigeria, the practice is republicanism system. That’s why it’s called The Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The stark realities and direct implications of the above are that under Nigerian laws, the Representative, e.g., President or Governor is not only superior to the monarchs but also exercise total control over all the Monarchical arrangements in the land.

As at today, every traditional Stool and incumbents owes their survivals and exists at the pleasure of the Governor of each state in Nigeria.

The Governors, by law, reserves the absolute legitimate powers and prerogatives to accord recognitions, upgrade traditional stools, and withdraw same from our monarchs.

This is the stark realities. This is our law devoid of sentiments and it would remain like that, until, perhaps any amendments.

It, therefore, follows that under our law, and Republic, if a governor considers the actions of a monarch to be in variance with his government, objectives, programs, protocols, or one that undermines his government, he may be compelled to exercise some of his disciplinary powers under the law, namely; Suspension, creation or multiplication of more Stools, withdrawal of recognition, or to depose etc.

If we’re ever sincere and honest with our practice of Republicanism, we would never allow our emotions, attachments, affiliations, and sentiments to overcome us, blind us, and make us pitch a Monarch against his legal overlord – the Governor.

Consequently, sound knowledge of the law would never allow a Monarch to attempt to try the resolve and powers of their Governors as far as Nigeria is concerned.

It is within the above perspectives that you can adequately situate a Governor Ganduje Vs Emir of Kano Alhaji Sanusi Lamido loggerhead, with Ganduje now almost successfully creating multiple Emirates in Kano – a feat that has never been contemplated before, or done at any time in the past.

But, today it is becoming legally possible because; our laws today have sweepingly demoted all the powers of the monarchs, rendered them to be subservient and under the control and pleasures of the Governor.

Therefore, if a governor is displeased or disappointed by the actions or inactions of a traditional ruler, and restraints himself from unleashing his full disciplinary powers, under the laws, he should be commended.

For Republicanism took virtually everything from monarchism. Yes. Everything.