Features of Pre-Colonial Political Administration in Nigeria, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo
(i) The administrative system of Hausa/Fulani pre-colonial was characterised by the centralization of political power and authority. All political power was concentrated on the emir.
(ii) The people paid different forms of taxes to the emir. They paid Khnraji tax, Zakat and Jangali. All paid to sustain the administration.
(ii) Islamic law, Sharia was obeyed by all, including the Emir but the emir is empowered to make laws where Islamic law is silent.
(iii) Emirate was the largest administrative structure with Emir as the head of administration. The Emir was appointed by the Emir of Sokoto.
(iv) The system was theocratic in nature. Islamic religion guided the actions of the leader and his people. In addition, the Emir was the political, religious and spiritual leader.
(v) Emirates were under the control of Emirs of Sokoto and Gwangu, therefore lacked republican status.
(vi) Their society was highly stratified, segmented into upper, middle and lower classes and the Talakawas.
(vii) Emirates kept a standing army to defend the emirate under the control of Madawaki.
(viii) Emirates judicial system was based on Sharia laws headed by Islamic Scholars, Alkali but Emir’s court was the highest court.
(ix) Succession to the throne was through hereditary.
(x) The Emir was autocratic. It operated absolute monarchy.
(i) Yoruba pre-colonial administration operated constitutional monarchy. The Oba-in-Council made the law, implemented the law, and settled cases.
(ii)There existed a council of a senior chief, the seven hereditary Oyomesi led by Bashorun. The council and the Oba, exercised legislative, executive, and judicial powers to ensure peace, success, and good governance of the Kingdom.
(iii) There was existence of the principles of checks and balances in the system.
(iv) There was existence of the Ogboni cult that checked the excesses of the Oba and Oyomesi.
(v) The system had a standing army to defend its territory from external attacks led by Are-Onakakanfo.
(vi) Rulership was hereditary. A new Oba is selected by the Oyomesi among the ruling families.
(vii) There was the existence of a Chief priest that performed religious functions mediated between the Oba and their gods.
(viii) The Oba was the paramount ruler.
(ix) The system was democratic. Oba did not possess absolute power. Oba and his council of chiefs exercised political power and there were principles of checks and balances including removing an errant Oba by presenting him an empty Calabash.
(i) The village was the highest administrative structure. Compound or family was also a unit of administration.
(ii) There was the existence of decentralization of power. Political power and authority was fragmented or segmented as different political institutions exercised political power e.g Umunna, Ohana-eze, Ndiiche
(iii) Council of elders, Ndiiche, the family heads played important role in the administration of villages. They implemented law and settled cases.
(iv) Decisions were reached through consensus.
(v) Age grades played important role in pre-colonial Igbo society as they implement law and defended the community from external attacks.
(vi) The villages and communities were republican in nature or in autonomous.
(vii) Successions to leadership or power were by achievement.
(viii) Ozo title holders played important role in traditional Igbo society.
(ix) There was a fusion of religions, judicial and political functions in administration.
(x) Deities and Oracles provided a bond of unity among the people.