Public Administration Project Topics

The Role of Traditional Ruler’s in Community Development. A Case Study of Sabon Gari Local Government

The Role of Traditional Ruler's in Community Development. A Case Study of Sabon Gari Local Government

The Role of Traditional Ruler’s in Community Development. A Case Study of Sabon Gari Local Government


Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of this study were as follows:

  1. To assess the historical roles of traditional rulers in community development in Sabon Gari Local Government.
  2. To analyze the contemporary roles and contributions of traditional rulers in fostering community development in Sabon Gari Local Government.
  3. To identify the challenges faced by traditional rulers in effectively participating in community development initiatives in Sabon Gari Local Government.



Conceptual Review

Traditional Rulership

Traditional rulership has undergone significant transformations over time, reflecting the dynamic socio-political landscapes of various societies (Coleman, 2022). Historically, traditional rulers served as custodians of cultural heritage, mediators of disputes, and symbols of authority within their communities (Sokoh, 2018). Their leadership was often hereditary, with succession determined by customary practices and societal norms (Aniche & Falola, 2020). However, with the advent of colonialism and modern governance structures, traditional rulers experienced shifts in their roles and functions.

The colonial era witnessed the imposition of indirect rule systems in many African societies, wherein traditional rulers were co-opted into the colonial administration as intermediaries (Havik, 2020). This marked a significant departure from their traditional roles, as they became subject to colonial authority and regulations (Omitola et al., 2021). Despite these changes, traditional rulers retained influence and relevance within their communities, albeit in altered forms (El-Rufai, 2020).

In contemporary times, traditional rulers continue to play multifaceted roles in their communities, blending traditional and modern practices (Hilda & Asiazobor, 2021). While their ceremonial functions remain significant for preserving cultural identity and heritage (Asimeng-Boahene, 2023), they have also adapted to address contemporary challenges such as development, governance, and social cohesion (Okonkwo & Amechi, 2019). Traditional rulers often collaborate with governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement development projects and address community needs (De Kadt & Larreguy, 2022).

However, the evolution of traditional rulership has not been without challenges. Political interference, internal conflicts, and changing societal values pose threats to their authority and legitimacy (Ezema, 2020). Additionally, the erosion of traditional norms and the rise of modern governance structures create tensions and ambiguities in their roles (Sokoh, 2018). Navigating these complexities requires traditional rulers to strike a delicate balance between preserving cultural heritage and addressing contemporary demands (Ogunode, 2021).

Overall, the historical evolution and contemporary roles of traditional rulership underscore its resilience and adaptability in the face of changing circumstances (Umar, 2022). While traditional rulers continue to uphold cultural traditions and symbols of authority, they also play pivotal roles in promoting development and governance at the grassroots level (Zimbalist, 2021). Understanding these dynamics is essential for fostering effective collaboration between traditional and modern governance systems and harnessing the potential of traditional rulers as agents of positive change (Falola, 2021).

Community Development

Community development encompasses a range of definitions, models, and approaches aimed at improving the well-being and quality of life within communities (Eneji & Agri, 2020). At its core, community development involves empowering individuals and groups to address their own needs and aspirations through collective action and participation (Omitola, Akinrinde, & Omitola, 2021). This process is inherently multidimensional, addressing economic, social, cultural, and environmental aspects of community life (Hopper & Weyman, 2019).





This chapter outlines the methodological approach employed in this study to investigate the role of traditional rulers in community development in Sabon Gari Local Government. The research design, population of the study, sampling technique and sample size, sources and method of data collection, method of data analysis, validity and reliability of the study, and ethical considerations are elaborated upon to ensure the rigour and credibility of the research findings.

Research Design

A quantitative survey research design was deemed appropriate for this study to systematically collect and analyze data from a large sample of respondents within the target population. This design facilitates the measurement of variables and the identification of patterns and relationships between them, aligning to examine the role of traditional rulers in community development. According to Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2019), this approach allows for the generalization of findings to the broader population, enhancing the study’s external validity.

Population of the Study

The target population for this study comprises residents of Sabon Gari Local Government, encompassing diverse demographic groups and socio-economic backgrounds. The justification for selecting a population of 171 respondents is based on the principle of representativeness, aiming to capture a comprehensive overview of community perceptions and experiences regarding the role of traditional rulers in development initiatives.



Data Presentation

Table 4.1 illustrates the distribution of questionnaires. Out of the total 120 distributed questionnaires, 108 were returned and completed, constituting 90% of the sample. Meanwhile, 12 questionnaires, representing 10% of the total, were not returned or remained incomplete. This high completion rate of 90% suggests significant engagement from participants. The relatively low proportion of unreturned or incomplete questionnaires indicates minimal non-response bias. Overall, the results demonstrate a satisfactory level of respondent participation, enhancing the reliability and validity of the study findings.

Demographic Distribution of Respondents

Table 4.2 presents the distribution of respondents by gender. The majority of respondents were female, accounting for 94.4% of the total sample, while males comprised only 5.6%. This gender distribution reflects a significant overrepresentation of females in the study population. The high percentage of female respondents may indicate a greater willingness among women to participate in research activities or a higher presence of females in the community. However, the small proportion of male respondents suggests potential gender bias and warrants further investigation to ensure the representativeness of the sample.



Summary of Findings

The study embarked on an in-depth exploration of the roles, contributions, and challenges faced by traditional rulers in community development initiatives within Sabon Gari Local Government. Through rigorous data collection and analysis, several key findings emerged, shedding light on various aspects of traditional rulership and its impact on community development.

Historically, traditional rulers have played a significant role in promoting community development, laying the foundation for current development efforts. The majority of respondents acknowledged the pivotal historical contributions of traditional rulers, indicating widespread recognition of their enduring influence and significance in shaping the socio-economic landscape of Sabon Gari. These findings underscore the deep-rooted traditions and cultural heritage that underpin traditional rulership, serving as a testament to its enduring relevance in contemporary society.

In contemporary times, traditional rulers continue to wield considerable influence and make significant contributions to fostering community development. The study revealed overwhelming support for the active involvement of traditional rulers in community development projects, highlighting their role as effective agents of change. Respondents expressed confidence in the ability of traditional rulers to drive social cohesion, promote infrastructure development, and address the socio-economic needs of residents. These findings underscore the adaptive nature of traditional rulership, demonstrating its capacity to evolve and respond to the changing needs of communities.

However, despite their undeniable contributions, traditional rulers face multifaceted challenges that hinder their effective participation in community development initiatives. Resource constraints, bureaucratic hurdles, and resistance from certain community members were identified as significant obstacles that impede the autonomy and flexibility of traditional rulers. The study illuminated the complex socio-political dynamics within which traditional rulers operate, emphasizing the need for systemic reforms and institutional support to empower traditional rulers and enhance their effectiveness in driving sustainable development.


The findings of the hypotheses tested in this study provide valuable insights into the perceptions and realities surrounding the roles, contributions, and challenges faced by traditional rulers in community development initiatives within Sabon Gari Local Government. Through rigorous data analysis and statistical testing, several key conclusions can be drawn.

Firstly, the results confirm the enduring significance of traditional rulers in promoting community development, both historically and in contemporary times. Despite the evolving socio-political landscape, traditional rulers continue to play a vital role in driving social cohesion, fostering infrastructure development, and addressing the socio-economic needs of residents. These findings underscore the resilience and adaptability of traditional rulership, highlighting its continued relevance in shaping the development trajectory of Sabon Gari.

Secondly, the study sheds light on the multifaceted challenges that hinder the effective participation of traditional rulers in community development initiatives. From resource constraints to bureaucratic hurdles and resistance from certain community members, traditional rulers face a myriad of obstacles that impede their autonomy and flexibility. These challenges underscore the need for systemic reforms and institutional support to empower traditional rulers and enhance their capacity to drive sustainable development.

Furthermore, the statistical findings from the one-sample t-tests provide empirical validation of the hypotheses, confirming significant mean differences in perceptions regarding traditional rulers’ roles and challenges in community development initiatives. These findings lend credence to the qualitative insights garnered through extensive data collection and analysis, reinforcing the robustness of the study’s findings.

In conclusion, the findings of this study underscore the complex interplay between traditional governance structures and grassroots development efforts. By elucidating the roles, contributions, and challenges faced by traditional rulers, the study offers valuable insights for policymakers, development practitioners, and local stakeholders. Moving forward, collaborative efforts are needed to leverage the strengths of traditional rulership and address the systemic barriers that hinder their effective participation in community development initiatives. Only through concerted action can Sabon Gari fully harness the potential of traditional rulers as catalysts for positive change and sustainable development.


Based on the findings and conclusions drawn from the study on the roles, contributions, and challenges of traditional rulers in community development initiatives within Sabon Gari Local Government, the following recommendations are proposed:

  1. Strengthen Institutional Support: Local government authorities should establish formal mechanisms to collaborate with traditional rulers, recognizing them as key stakeholders in community development. This collaboration should involve regular consultations, joint planning sessions, and resource allocation to leverage the unique insights and networks of traditional rulers.
  2. Capacity Building Programs: Implement capacity building programs aimed at equipping traditional rulers with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively participate in community development initiatives. These programs could focus on leadership and governance, project management, conflict resolution, and resource mobilization.
  3. Foster Inter-generational Dialogue: Promote inter-generational dialogue and knowledge transfer between traditional rulers and younger community members. Encouraging the active involvement of youth in traditional governance structures can help bridge the gap between tradition and modernity, fostering continuity and innovation in community development efforts.
  4. Address Resource Constraints: Allocate sufficient resources and funding to support community development projects initiated by traditional rulers. This could include grants, subsidies, or technical assistance programs to enhance the implementation and sustainability of development initiatives.

Limitations of the Study

Despite the comprehensive nature of the study on the roles, contributions, and challenges of traditional rulers in community development within Sabon Gari Local Government, several limitations must be acknowledged. Firstly, the study’s reliance on self-reported data from questionnaire responses may introduce social desirability bias, wherein participants may provide responses that align with perceived societal expectations rather than their true beliefs or experiences. This could potentially skew the findings and lead to an overestimation or underestimation of certain variables related to traditional rulership and community development.

Secondly, the study’s scope was limited to a specific geographic area, namely Sabon Gari Local Government, which may limit the generalizability of the findings to other contexts or regions with different socio-cultural dynamics and governance structures. Thus, caution should be exercised when extrapolating the results to broader populations or making policy recommendations beyond the study area. Future research endeavours should consider expanding the geographical scope and incorporating diverse perspectives to obtain a more nuanced understanding of traditional rulership and its implications for community development across various contexts. Additionally, employing mixed-methods approaches that combine quantitative surveys with qualitative interviews or focus group discussions could provide richer insights into the intricacies of traditional governance and its impact on grassroots development efforts. Despite these limitations, the study represents a significant contribution to the existing literature on traditional leadership and community development, laying the groundwork for future investigations in this field.


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