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12 Functions of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria Community Development

In this post, we look at the 12 functions of traditional rulers in Nigeria. The role of traditional rulers in community development includes civil administration and providing socioeconomic well-being for the community they rule.

In addition, traditional rulers are valuable because they could influence subjects at the grass-roots positively to support any sitting government or vote one out.

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As you are aware, development means growth, change, improvement, progress, etc.

12 Functions of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria

This article will show you how traditional rulers help to create positive change in the well-being of their subjects and the community. The aim is to help you understand the functions and value of traditional rulers to the peace and progress of your community and by implication the country.

Let us begin by listing functions traditional rulers perform and analyze them to see how they make our communities and the lives of ordinary citizens living in their domains better.

Functions of Traditional Rulers

The functions of traditional rulers in community development includes the following.

  • chair meetings of council of elders of the community
  • give advice to local government officials for development of their locality
  • make sure law and order prevail in the community
  • custodians of culture of their domains
  • use traditional religious beliefs to punish bad behavior and encourage goodness
  • supervise chieftaincy matters and confer titles to deserving citizens
  • settle land and marriage disputes and award damages
  • assist local government to sensitize the people to pay tax
  • encourage subjects to gain financial freedom
  • educate the populace to perform their civic duties
  • get support of subjects for local council chairmen
  • support good governance by the three tiers of government

Analysis of the Functions of Traditional Rulers

Lets us analyze above functions to expand and clarify them to show the functions of traditional rulers in community development.

1. Chair Meetings of Council of Elders of the Community

Traditional rulers chair meetings of the council of elders which formulate and enforce the rules that govern the domain. This gives direction, political and economic stability in the locality.

2. Give Advice to Local Government Officials for Development of Their Locality

The functions of traditional rulers in community development is vital for the success of the local government administration.

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These traditional rulers, who are mostly highly influential and experienced citizens, are available to give wise counsel to local government chairmen and their counselors when they consult them.

This helps local governments to make good decisions and increase their competence.

In addition, the local government works with them to provide projects that are beneficial to generality of the people, such as health centers, maternities, boreholes, and repairs of local roads, and schools.

3. Make Sure Law and Order Prevail in the Community

They make sure there is peace and safety in the community and that the citizens obey the laws of the land. They communicate these ideals through town criers, village at age grade meetings and social gatherings summoned by the traditional rulers.

4. Custodians of Culture of their Domains

They initiate the celebration of village festivals to keep the culture and tradition of the people intact, and sponsor art and culture in their locality to ingrain it in the populace.

For example, they celebrate new yam festivals in the eastern part of the country and Igue festivals in Benin City. These festivals give people from those communities a sense of identity. It is also a way for bringing natives living in other parts of the country and the world back home once in a year.

These festivals create happiness in these communities and improve their economy too.

5. Use Traditional Religious Beliefs to Punish Bad Behavior and Encourage Goodness

Another area where the function of traditional rulers in community development is necessary is in the correction and punishment of wrong doing in the society.

Fear of the community deity is the beginning of wisdom. The use of these gods, enables Traditional rulers maintain the peace of the community, punish bad behavior and encourage goodness for economic development to thrive.

6. Supervise Chieftaincy Matters and Confer Titles to Deserving Citizens

Traditional rulers confer titles to citizens who have distinguished themselves in the society to serve as examples for the people to copy. These titles give honor to worthy citizens and create healthy rivalry among locals to be the best in their career, business or service.

7. Settle Land and Marriage Disputes and Award Damages

They settle all land disputes within the community, marriage quarrels and petty stealing, within the Palace with fairness to all parties.

The people prefer settling issues the traditional way than go to the Magistrate court because of the fear of the wrath of traditional gods they worship.

8. Assist Local Government to Sensitize People to Pay Tax

They mobilize the community to pay taxes to the local council authority to enable them repair community roads, public schools, and other public utilities.

9. Encourage Subjects to Gain Financial Freedom

The functions of traditional rulers in community development are clear from their desire for citizens to be prosperous.

Traditional rulers cooperate with the local council to organize seminars to help members of the community to get federal government grants, and soft Agric loans, fertilizer and seedlings for farmers to improve the local economy.

This information empowers the people to be self sufficient in production of food, create employment for young people by setting up small medium enterprises to stop rural urban youth migration.

10. Educate the Populace to Perform their Civic Duties

It is the responsibility of both the traditional rulers and the local government authorities, to educate the populace to perform their civic duties such as registration to vote, pay tax, vote in elections and participate in Census.

11. Get Support of Subjects for Local Council Chairmen

They get the support of subjects for local council administration to succeed and endorse good local government chairmen to retain office.

12. Support Good Governance by the Three Tiers of Government

Good governance does not need advertisement because it shows. Traditional rulers desire good leadership from rulers in the three tiers of government and campaign for it all over the country.


The functions of traditional rulers in community development involves ruling their kingdoms or domains to bring progress and economic freedom for subjects.

They are the voice of the grassroots to the three tiers of government.

Because of the positive functions they perform in their communities, we urge the government to give traditional rulers the respect and support they deserve.

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Victor Usifo

He is a Writer, Speaker, Life Coach, Blogger with a passion for personal development. Hobbies includes: Reading, Writing and Research. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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