The 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory are spending billions on emirates and chiefdoms annually in their respective areas, Daily Trust investigations have revealed.
Investigations by this newspaper show that there are at least 548 of such emirates and chiefdoms across the north and the FCT, with 174 of them having first-class status, 130 second-class, 205 third-class, and 37 fourth class.
Apart from this number of emirs and chiefs, there are also thousands number of districts, village, and ward heads under their control.
Daily Trust reports that traditional rulers have no specific responsibilities under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), but they serve as custodians of tradition and culture of their various communities.
They also play local roles in conflict resolution and peace-building in their domains.
Before the abrogation of the native authority (NA) system, the northern traditional rulers were in charge of the police, prison, judiciary, education, and even finances of their various emirates and chiefdoms.
The monarchs also wield influence, with many of them being retired top military and police officers, former governors, justices, ministers, top bureaucrats, as well as top bankers and businessmen.
The traditional rulers draw their finances from the state and local governments for their day-to-day running, salaries, maintenance of palaces, vehicles, among others.
Statutorily, the traditional rulers are under the authority of their local government chairmen.
However, the mode of financing the traditional institutions varies from state to state.
The north-central zone comprising six states have the largest number of emirates and chiefdoms. The zone has a combined total of 361 emirates and chiefdoms. The breakdown shows that Nasarawa State has the number of 58 Kwara 90, Kogi 88, Benue 79, Plateau 46, and Niger eight. Of this number, 80 are of first-class status, 105 second class, 144 third class and 32 fourth class.
The northeast has a total number of 106 emirs and chiefs, comprising 57 first class, 11 second class, and 38 third class. Taraba has the highest number of monarchs numbering 56, followed by Gombe 15, Yobe 14, Adamawa eight, Borno seven, and Bauchi six.
The northwest zone with seven states has a combined total of 66 emirs and chiefs. This number comprises 39 first class, 14 second class, and 13 third class. Kaduna leads the zone with 32 emirs and chiefs, followed by Zamfara 17, Kano five, Kebbi four, Katsina two and Sokoto one.
Even in the FCT, the indigenous communities have at least 15 graded chiefs on the payroll of the FCT administration.
States with highest, lowest monarchs
Kwara has the largest 58 chiefdoms and emirates (comprising 20 first class, 26 second class and 12 third class). It also has the highest number of monarchs, numbering 90. Kogi has 88, Benue 79, Nasarawa 58, Taraba 56, Plateau 46, and Kaduna 32.
On the other hand, the Sultan of Sokoto has the whole state under his control. Katsina follows with two emirs, Kebbi four, Kano and Jigawa five each, Bauchi six, and Adamawa eight.
N1bn for Kano emirate salary
In Kano, the state government is spending over N1 billion monthly on the salaries of the district village, and ward heads and their errands. The immediate past state commissioner for local government, Alhaji Murtala Sule Garo, told Daily Trust that the 44 local government areas of the state are also contributing money to the emirate.
He said although Kano emirate is not getting the stipulated five percent from each local government due to lack of fund, however, the emirate is getting a reasonable amount from the local governments every month.
Garo said the emirate is getting over N100 million every month from the 44 local governments.
“Ideally, the emirate is expected to collect over N180 million from the 44 local governments as a five percent contribution from the local governments. But due to the financial challenges, the local governments were contributing over N100 million to the emirate monthly.
“I can vividly recall that the last money we paid to the emirate was N100 million and sometimes we pay more than that to the emirate,” he said.
N374m cars for Niger emirs
In April last year, the Niger State Government said that it has released N374 million for the purchase of eight new Prado Jeeps for the first-class traditional rulers in the state.
The state government said the monarchs were due for new utility vehicles to assist them in their day to day running and schedules.
The then commissioner for local government, community development and chieftaincy affairs, Haliru Zakari Jikantoro said the gesture was to complement the roles of the traditional rulers and show the government’s appreciation to the royal fathers.
He said the state’s executive council gave the approval to give the traditional rulers deserved utility vehicles according to their status.
N750m guest house for Sultan, N500m palace for Gusau emir
In 2016, the Sokoto state government purchased an N700m guest house in Abuja “to defray the government of accommodation and ensure the convenience of His Eminence and entourage while in Abuja for sundry official engagements.”
A year after, Zamfara state despite being afflicted by murderous banditry built a new palace for the Emir of Gusau at the cost of N500 million.
These expenditures elicited reactions because the states are in dire need of basic necessities such as potable drinking water, basic drugs at primary health care centres, educational consumables and qualified teachers, among others.
5 % LG allocations to the emirates
In Zamfara state, the 17 emirates receive five percent of local government allocations, according to a senior official of the state council of chiefs.
He said he could not actually give the amount spent on the emirates council but he could confirm that five percent of the local government allocations are being given to the emirate’s council.
In Katsina State, available records from the ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs showed that the two emirates of Katsina and Daura are being supported with a statutory allocation of five percent deducted from the accounts of the local government areas.
Three percent of the money is given to Katsina emirate which controls control of 29 local governments, while that of Daura with five local governments gets the remaining two percent.
Further findings showed that district heads are placed on between GL 12-14, while village and wards heads are ranked from GL 6 -8.
In Jigawa state, the emirates of Dutse, Hadejia, Kazaure, Gumel, and Ringim received five of local government federal allocations, according to the Secretary to the State Government, Abdulkadiri Fanini.
“Jigawa state is very much consistent in the payment of dues for the existing five emirates in the state as enshrined in the constitution,” he told our reporter without mentioning the exact amount.
In Sokoto state, the Sultanate council is receiving its five percent allocation local government monthly allocation from the federation account to the Sultanate Council, the immediate past commissioner for local government and community development, Muhammadu Arzika Tureta said.
Last-minute creation of chiefdoms, emirates
The number of emirates and chiefdoms tripled in the last 20 years, specifically with the return of civilian rule in 1999. From Yobe, Borno, Kaduna to Kwara, Kogi, Benue and Nasarawa states, civilian governors created more emirates and chiefdoms, mostly for political reasons.
For instance, in Nasarawa state, Governor Tanko Al-Makura created dozens of emirates and chiefdoms days to the end of his tenure. In Kwara state, ex-Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed created more than three dozen chiefs on the eve of 2019 elections.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano created four additional emirates of Bichi, Rano, Gaya, and Karaye in the state after winning a second term, thereby limiting the flamboyant Kano emir to the 10 metropolitan local government areas in the state.
Kaduna sacks 313 district heads, 4,453 village heads to cut cost
In June 2017, the Kaduna state government sacked 313 districts and 4,453 village heads, in an attempt to cut down the financial burden on the local government councils.
The state, therefore, reverted to 77 districts and 1,429 village units that existed before 2001, when the traditional institution was deregulated by Governor Mohammed Makarfi administration.
Some of the affected district heads have already instituted legal actions challenging the state government’s action.
There 32 chiefdoms and emirates in Kaduna State, comprising 10 first-class status, nine second-class and 13 third class.
Additional reporting by Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano), Habibu Umar Aminu (Katsina), Haruna Gimba Yaya (Gombe), Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto), Hope Abah (Makurdi), Dickson S. Adama (Jos), Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Kabir Anwar (Yola), Aliyu Hamagam (Dutse), Ibrahim Hamza Muhammed (Lafia), Uthman Abubakar (Maiduguri), Shehu Umar (Gusau)