The traditional authorities are reckoned as landowners and the rightful heirs to the seat of the past forebears. Owing to their ordained position, they are charged with the heinous responsibility of ensuring the conservation and the sustainable use of the resources in the environment. Aside from this, they are to maintain the buoyancy, sereneness, and cleanliness of the environment. It is believed among some cultures that poor sanitary environs in some societies result in untold mayhem from the incensed ancestors who are strong advocates of cleanliness and maintenance of the environment and its resources. Thus, following their footsteps, the traditional authorities are supposed to ensure that the resources in their societies are properly managed and taken proper care.
In times past, the traditional authorities acted as environmental inspectors. They supervised environmentally friendly activities. They spearheaded events and programs that ensured the maintenance of the environment. As it is still potent in some societies in the world, traditional authorities have instituted environmental cleaning and sanitation events sometimes weekly or monthly in their societies. During the agreed day or days, members in the society aid in the de-silting of choked gutters, removal of debris, clearing of pathways to water bodies, helping in the repair of old and weak architectural structures and so forth in their communities. Pathways and the streets are swept and freed of any rubbish or environmentally hazardous debris. This greatly improves the health conditions of the members of the society.
In ensuring that members of their society listened ardently to their call for environmental sanity and the sustainable use of its resources, the traditional authorities established some strict monitoring and sanctioning measures. Culprits of environmental malfeasance were punished either by paying monetary fines and/or performance of pacification rites to appease the angered ancestors. Other defaulters were publicly mocked during societal gatherings. All these stringent measures helped in maintaining environmental sanity and the conservation as well as the sustainable use of the resources in the environment. Society members greatly respected the authority of the traditional council and this brought peace and good health to the people.
However, the situation is somehow different in some societies today. Due to the weakening of the powers of the traditional council, their former roles as environmental supervisors are threatened. There is, therefore, the need for the various governments to streamline and legalize the authority of the traditional councils in communities for them to assume their roles as environmental inspectors. This is very keen to achieving a healthy environment.
As landowners and residents close to the biodiversity resources in their communities, the government must charge them with the responsibility to care for their environment at the grass root level. This would augment the efforts of the formal institutions in charge of the environment such as the Forestry and Wildlife commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the water and sanitation departments. The legalization of the powers of traditional authorities as environmental supervisors will deepen their resolve to protect the environment and its resources. Also, it will aid them in promulgating their traditionally effective sanctions to especially elite culprits of environmental degradation who disarm the authority of the traditional council because of the non-legalization of their powers as environmental supervisors by the law of the land.
However, the powers of the traditional authorities when legalized must be monitored by an external committee, such as the forestry and wildlife commission or a new and neutral committee. This is important because some traditional authorities who are not glued to the cultural values and heritage of their ancestors may abuse their powers as environmental inspectors and resort to bribery and corruption. Thus, to arrest this potential problem, the legalization of their powers must not go unchecked but strictly managed to regulate their duties.
It is an undeniable fact that the powers of the traditional authorities in various communities can be harnessed for society and national development, especially in the area of environmental sanitation and sustainable management of its resources which is in a sorry state in numerous societies of the world. Of course, a legalization of the powers of the traditional authorities would aid in censoring the environmentally degrading activities while ensuring a green, healthy environment.