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PRE-COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION/POLITICAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA

Government (Secondary School)

PRE-COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION IN HAUSA/FULANI LAND

Historical background of the Hausa

The Fulani assumed the political leadership of the Habe (Hausa) states in the 19th century after the jihad war led by Othman Dan Fodio. He established the Sokoto caliphate, which was highly politically centralized.

 

He introduced a new system of selecting rulers known as Emirs to rule the caliphate. Sokoto and Gwandu were made two headquarters for all emirates as each Emir owed allegiance to Othman Dan Fodio and his representatives at Sokoto and Gwandu.

 

POLITICAL ADMINISTRATION

  1. The Emirate: The caliphate was divided into emirates headed by an Emir possessing almost all powers. He was an authoritarian ruler. He made laws and maintained law and order according to Islamic rules. He was assisted by a number of advisers. These are:
  • The Waziri- he was the head of all the officials.
  • The Galadima- He is in charge of the capital.
  • The Madawaki- He was the commander of the army.
  • The Dogari- He was in charge of treasury
  • SarkinRuwa- the River fishing official.
  • SarkinFada- The head of the palace workers.
  • SarkinPawa- The head of all butchers.
  • Yari- Official in charge of the prisons.
  1. The legislative organ: The Muslim law known as Sharia was applied throughout the emirate. The law was regarded as the law of God and supreme.
  2. The Executive organ: The Emir was authoritarian in nature. Though he had a council of adviser, he could accept or reject their advice.
  3. Judicial organ: The laws were based on sharia laws and the Alkali judges administered them. Some minor cases were passed to the village heads to settle. Criminal and land cases were for the Emir to decide as long as Sharia laws dealt with civil cases.
  4. District administration: Each emirate was divided into district headed by an official appointed by the Emir called Hakimi.

 

EVALUATION QUESTIONS

  1. What were the powers and functions of an Emir in the Hausa/Fulani political system?
  2. How did the caliphate begin?

 

PRE-COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION IN IGBO LAND

The Igbo system had no central authority like the Yoruba and Hausa. Different groups shared power and it involved the general participation of people in governance .They practice a form of direct democracy.

 

FEATURES OF IGBO POLITICAL SYSTEM

  1. It was a decentralized and segmented system.
  2. It was republican. No individual had hereditary rights to political office.
  3. The system was democratic as there was the principle of equality and social justice.
  4. There was no centralized power. No one was a political ruler.
  5. Women played a significant role in government through, the Umuada (daughters of the kindred)

 

STRUCTURAL ORGANISATION OF THE IGBO POLITICAL SYSTEM

  1. The Village Administration: The Igbo political system was based on the village as a political unit. Each village was made up of families. Each family head held the Ofor title and they all formed the council of elders, which govern the village. The oldest Ofor title holder was referred to as the Okpara and presided over the council of elders meeting where decisions affecting the people are taking. During village meetings, every adult was expected to participate.
  2. The Executive: The affairs of the village were discussed by the heads (council of elders). Every adult had the power to contribute.
  3. The Legislature: The villagers made laws themselves. The age grade could make laws, which the elders accepted.
  4. The Judiciary: Family heads settle dispute between families. Serious cases were referred to the council of elders and the Okpara.
  5. The Age Grade: There were young men who belonged to the same age group. They were involved in the administration of the village and perform public duties like clearing of parts, road etc, they maintained security and helped in the implementation of policies made by the council of elders.
  6. The Ozor Titleholders: Some wealthy and influential men took the Ozor title, which was very expensive. The society respected such men and they could join the council of elders to debate on issues affecting the people.
  7. Women Association: They participated in settling disputes as they served as a powerful pressure group. They socialized with their young ones by inculcating in them good morals, political values and norms. They stood against corruption and oppression.

 

EVALUATION QUESTION

  1. List 5 features of Igbo political system.
  2. What were the functions of the age grade in the Igbo political system?

 

GENERAL EVALUATION/REVISION QUESTIONS

  1. Describe the composition of the village assembly in the Igbo pre-colonial political system
  2. Discuss the roles of the Ozor title holders in the Igbo pre-colonial system.
  3. Define Totalitarianism
  4. Give 5 features of totalitarianism

 

WEEKEND ASSINGMENT

  1. The arm of government responsible for implementing laws in Igbo pre-colonial system is? (a) The village assembly (b) Age grade (c) Ozor holder.
  2. An institution which seeks to redress people’s grievances against abuse of administrative power is called (a) judicial commission (b) Ombudsman (c) civil service.
  3. The body of officials who help the executive to formulate and implement policies is (a) the legislature (b) civil service (c) public corporation.
  4. Legitimacy of government simply means (a) the ability to control others (b) the rights to inherit power (c) popular acceptance of a political system.
  5. In the pre-colonial political system, which of these societies practiced a form of democracy? (a) Yoruba (b) Hausa (c) Igbo

 

THEORY

  1. How is the Igbo political system different from the Hausa?
  2. What is the role of the Ozor titleholders in the Igbo pre-colonial political system?

 

See also

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PUBLIC CORPORATION

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

ELECTORAL COMMISSION

VOTING

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