The Olowu of Owu kingdom, Oba Saka Matemilola, has called for a proper role for the traditional rulers in the Nigerian constitution.
The monarch advised the government to ensure that funds are made available to the palaces for them to carry out some grassroots projects, which range from welfare to scholarships for people in need.
Olowu said this during a media parley and reception organised for him at his palace in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He said traditional rulers have been the first point of call for the people in their areas whenever they were having financial or other problems.
He said, “It’s actually for the traditional rulers to have a proper role in the governance structure of this country.
“When you look at how things work, when our people have issues, the first place they’ll go to is the palaces or their traditional rulers.
“Somebody who can’t pay his or her school fees goes to the palace, somebody whose child is having medical issues goes to the palace too.
“These are the problems in the town or city, even the government would look up to these traditional rulers to help them sort out these problems.
“So essentially, the citizens have a lot of trust in the traditional rulers, and it’s very important that traditional rulers have a proper place and a formal role in the governance structure and constitutionally.
“Once we have that, we can begin to see the roles traditional rulers can be assigned as part of the governance of the country.”
The monarch, however, said that his recent trip to the United Kingdom, among others, led to partnerships between some Nigerian tertiary institutions and foreign universities.
He explained that he led a delegation that comprised Vice Chancellors of the University of Ibadan, Crescent University, Bells University, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye and the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, as well as Rectors of the Gateway Polytechnic, Saapade, and Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta.
Oba Matemilola, a Professor of Applied Mathematics, said the delegation engaged the management of the foreign universities on how they could partner on student-exchange programmes, curriculum development, and research for development, among others.
Olowu said the delegation visited the University of Maryland, Clark Atlanta University, Rutgers University, Princeton University, Penn State University, and IES-Abroad, Chicago, and got positive responses to the request.
He said the partnership would not only benefit Nigerian students but also the communities where these institutions are and Nigeria as a whole.
According to him, the delegation sought partnerships with foreign universities on how they could raise funds for the establishment of training centres in Nigeria for Nigerian students.
He said, “The foreign universities would be partnering with Nigerian universities in areas such as energy, agriculture, data sciences, healthcare, art and culture, among others.
“We sought to create collaboration between some of our universities, not only in Ogun State but also around the Western States of Nigeria with universities out there in the United States and the United Kingdom.
“We were able to visit six different institutions in the United States and they received us with a warm welcome.
“They were willing to partner with us. We discussed different areas where we can collaborate, not only in research work but also in student exchanges, faculty exchanges in developing co-curriculars for their universities and our universities; and other areas where we can have mutual benefits between ourselves.
“We are also looking at areas where we can co-raise funds that will benefit us and also benefit them, where we can establish centres for additional training here in Nigeria.
“In all the engagements that we had, we realised that all these universities really expressed their intention and happiness to work with us in various areas, including energy, healthcare, art and culture, data sciences, as well as other areas.”
The monarch hinted that the partnership would be extended to other universities in the country through the establishment of a consortium of universities.
“Once we get going with these seven institutions, we will expand them to other universities and institutions that will also be interested in this.
“The universities expressed their intention to support us in teaching our students sustainable development right from the undergraduate level, and we will make an effort to include sustainable development in our curriculum.
“This is something that will benefit not only all the faculty students but also the whole of the communities where these institutions are and Nigeria as a whole.”