LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT – SSS 2
PRE-COLONIAL POLITICAL SYSTEMS IN NIGERIA
The territory now known as Nigeria had political systems prior to its colonization. The systems had the three major ethnic nationalities (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) administering their respective regions.
Lagos was invaded by British forces in 1851. In 1861, Lagos was formally annexed. In 1901, Nigeria became a British protectorate. The Southern and the Northern protectorates were amalgamated for ease of administration in 1914. But 1960 marks the end of colonization of Nigeria. However, prior to colonization, the country’s political system can be segmented and studied as:
I. Hausa/Fulani political system,
II. Igbo political system and
III. Yoruba political system.
HAUSA/FULANI PRE-COLONIAL POLITICAL SYSTEM
The Hausa political kingdom was taken over in 1809 by the Otman Dan Fodio led Jihad. It was a strong religious and political incursion that culminated in the establishment of Sokoto caliphate.
The Caliphate was a highly centralized, autocratic political system. Dan Fodio appointed rulers designated as Emirs to assist him in administering the caliphate.
POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE CALIPHATE
- THE EMIRATE: The Caliphate was made up of independent political territories known as emirates. Each emirate is ruled by an Islamic monarch styled Emir. They delivered allegiance and tax (in form of crops. Cowry, shells, slaves, etc.) to the caliphs. The major administrative divisions was between Sokoto Caliphate and Gwandu Caliphate. Each Emir had in his cabinet a number of chief officers to assist in administration.
a) Waziri: prime minister and head of all officials.
b) Galadima: administrator of the capital.
c) Madaki: commander of the army.
d) Dogari: head of police
e) Maaji: treasury secretary
f) Sarki ruwa: river fishing official
g) Sarkin fada: head of palace workers
h) Sarkin pawa: head of butchers
- ADMINISTRATIVE HEADQUARTERS: The major administrative division and seat of power are Sokoto and Gwandu. The Emir of Gwandu contols the western empire while the Emir of Sokoto controlled the eastern empire.
- ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICTS: each emirate was further divided into districts and headed by an appointed leader designated as Hakimi.
- VILLAGE LEVELS: At the village levels, Hakimi appointed heads to facilitate the collection of tax and maintain law and order.
- EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS: The Emir exercised executive function with absolute power. He has the prerogative of accepting or rejecting advice.
- LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS: Citizens’ conducts were guided by Islamic laws. However, in matters where Islamic law did not cover, the Emir made laws.
- JUDICIARY FUNCTIONS: Laws were administered by Alkali judges using the sharia codes. Minor issues might be settled by village heads but more serious matters were referred to the Emirs.
- ISTRIBUTION OF POWER: The administration was highly centralized. By implication, the Emirs, being authoritarians possessed almost all powers.
FUNCTIONS OF THE EMIR IN THE HAUSA/FULANI POLITICAL SYSTEM
- He was the spiritual head of the emirate.
- He made laws for his territory.
- The Emir appointed his advisers and the village heads.
- He imposed and collected taxes and tributes.
- He organized the defense of the emirate against external aggression.
- He allocated farmland to people.
- He confers traditional titles on deserving warriors.
- He performed traditional functions such as Dubar.
- (a) Describe the system of government of Hausa/Fulani in the pre-colonial era.
- (b) Give a highlight of the chief administrative officers of an emirate.
- (c) Discuss the roles of the structural components of Hausa/Fulani political system in the pre-colonial era.