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  1. Local Government Administration | Week 1
    4 Topics
  2. Structure of Local Government | Week 2
    6 Topics
    1 Quiz
  3. Local Government Reforms | Week 3
    5 Topics
    1 Quiz
  4. Pre-Colonial Political Administration In Nigeria | Week 4, 5 & 6
    6 Topics
    3 Quizzes
  5. Colonialism | Week 7
    5 Topics
  6. British Colonial Administration in Nigeria I | Week 8
    3 Topics
    1 Quiz
  7. British Colonial Administration in Nigeria II | Week 9
    4 Topics
    1 Quiz
  8. French Colonial Administration | Week 10
    7 Topics
    1 Quiz
  9. Leadership and Followership | Week 11
    7 Topics

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Traditional Rulers:

(i) Traditional rulers made laws according to the traditions and customs of the people for the good governance of the people.

(ii) They maintained law and order. They mobilized the people most especially the youth to maintain law and order.

(iii) Traditional rulers settled disputes. They passed judgements and interpreted customary laws and conventions.

(iv) They preserved native laws and customs. They were the custodians of the customs and traditions of the people and ensured the preservation and promotion of customs and traditions of the people.

(v) They appointed subordinate chiefs such as Baale.

(vi) Traditional rulers recruited able-bodied men to defend their communities from external invasions.

(vii) They collected tributes and taxes from the people.

(viii) They conferred honours and awards to deserving members of the community.

(ix) They allocated the community’s resources to the people e.g. land. They also allocated War bounties to deserving members of the community.

(x) Traditional rulers performed religious and ceremonial functions In Hausa/Fulani societies. The Emirs were the religious and spiritual leaders of the people. 

(xi) They also mobilized their people on community development projects.

(xii) Traditional rulers maintained relationships with other communities.

Council of (Elders) Chiefs

The Council of Chiefs (elders) was evident in Igbo traditional society. It consisted of heads of different families and some members of the “Nze na ozo” society. Their functions included:

(i) Council of elders settled disputes involving different families or communities.

(ii) They made laws where the customary laws and conventions were silent.

(iii) They presided over the meetings of the Village Assembly.

(iv) They performed ceremonial and religious functions.

(v) Council of elders punished law offenders including payment of fines, banishment, death penalty, etc.

(vi) The council supervised the implementation of decisions.

(vii) They co-ordinated the organization of youths for communal development.

Oyomesi / Kingmakers:

(i) Oyomesi initiated laws.

(ii) They advised the Oba on good governance of the community.

(iii) They helped in the maintenance of law and order.

(iv) They ensured that the policies and decisions of the Oba were implemented.

(v) They checked the excesses of the Oba

(vi) The Oyomesi and the Ifa priest took part in the selection of a new Oba from the ruling families.

(vii) Oyomesi announced the death of an Oba and after the burial of the late Oba, they decorated and installed a new Oba.

(viii) It could investigate the Oba on allegations levelled against him by his people and if found guilty, could declare total rejection of the Oba by the people by the presentation of an empty Calabash to the Oba.

(ix) It helped preserved Yoruba customs and traditions.

(ix) In case of incapacitation of the Oba, the leader of the Oyomesi, Bashorun acted as the Oba.

(x) They performed religious and ceremonial functions.

(xi) They assisted the Oba to settle cases in Oba’s court.

(xii) Oyomesi helped in the organization of the youth for community development.

Age Grades:

Age grades were predominant in Igbo traditional societies though they also existed in Yoruba traditional societies.

(i) Age grades helped to enforce decisions and policies and laws in the community.

(ii) They helped to defend their communities against external attacks.

(iii) They executed communal works and projects such as the construction of pathways or roads, market squares, cleaning the streams, etc.

(iv)They were the community police. They maintained law and order.

(v) The older age grades checked the dictatorial tendencies of paramount rulers and the council of elders.

(vi) They perform ceremonial and cultural functions during important occasions e.g. dancing during new yam festivals.

(vii) They socialized among themselves. They built houses for one another and also helped one another as they got married.

Secret Society (Ogboni/Egbe Awoopa):

Secret Society existed in different traditional societies with different names and roles. In Yoruba Pre-Colonial Society, Ogboni Cult played very important roles; among them were:

(i) They checked the abuse of power of Oba and Oyomesi.

(ii) They defended the community in times of War.

(iii) They performed rituals aimed toward evil spirits and appeasing the gods for the sins of the community.

(iv) It preserved the custom and traditions of the people.

(v) It served as the final court of appeal to both civil and criminal cases.

(vi) It helped in the dethronement or deposition of an errant Oba.

(vii) It approved decisions and policies of the Oba and his advisers.

Village Assembly (Oha-na-eze)

Village Assembly was the highest law-making organ in Igbo traditional society. All the male adult citizens took part in public decision-making. Decisions were reached by consensus.

Functions of the Village Assembly included:

(i) It made laws that were binding on all for the good governance of the society.

(ii) Serious cases were settled at the Village Assembly.

(iii) The Village Assembly was the custodian of the culture and values of the society.


(i) Different deities had priests that served them e.g. Sango, Obatala, Agbara Amadioha, etc. Priests performed religious functions.

(ii) They made laws. Their proclamations were sacred and all obeyed.

(iii) They served as mediators between the people and their gods and ancestors.

(iii) They appeased the gods anytime it was perceived that the people had defiled the land.

(iv) They checked the excesses of the traditional rulers, Ogboni and council of elders.

(v) They ensured that the tradition and customs of the people were respected.

(vi) They performed rituals for different purposes including during and after the installation of the new Oba, before the farming season for a good harvest.


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