The colonial administration of the
pre-independence era in Nigeria used traditional authorities on large scale in
governance. Ever since then, traditional authorities have found themselves
confronted with providing complimentary leadership in their domain. Their
relevance in the contemporary societies appear to be diminishing with the
result that various tiers of government appear to perceive and use them in
governance in different ways and levels. This study appraised the roles and
place of traditional authorities in Nigeria with particular reference to
Anambra North Senatorial Zone of Anambra State. For this purpose, a structured
questionnaire was designed and administrated to 200 samples selected among
traditional rulers, key local government council officials and key officials of
Ananbra State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. Following
the collection and analysis of data, some salient findings were registered.
They include among others, the fact that.
Traditional authorities play some essential and fundamental roles in governance
They were not only recognized but also enjoy a significant place in governance
especially at the grassroots level.
They performed their roles and functions very well and satisfactorily.
They engaged in the settlement and resolution of intra and inter communal
Chieftaincy feuds and tussles were found to occur to a moderate extent within
To some extent which is considered small, government interfered in the
activities and function of traditional authorities within Igbo speaking states
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Background of the Study
Statement of the Problem
Objective of the Study
Theoritical Foundation of the Study
Significance of the Study
Scope of the Study
Limitations of the Study
Definition of Terms and Acronyms
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
Traditional Authorities in the Pre-Colonial Era in Igbo-land
Traditional Authorities and Their Roles in Colonial
The Roles of Traditional Authorities in Governance
Traditional Authorities and Community Development
3.0 RESEARCH DESIGN AND
Sample Size and Sampling Techniques
Validity of Instrument
Method of Data Presentation and Analysis
Instrument Rate of Returns
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The early colonial administration in
Nigeria and indeed English Speaking West African States used traditional
authorities in large scale in their system of indirect rule. Ever since then,
the relevance of traditional authorities in governance especially in Nigeria
has always manifested in divers forms and degrees. This was in
realization of the relevance of traditional authorities in the governance of
primitive communities and kingdoms as well as the desire by the
colonial authorities not to disrupt an already existing system and to reduce
the volume of manpower requirement for indirect rule.
Before then, traditional authorities essentially provided leadership for the
various communities and kingdoms. However, the system of traditional government
varied from place to place. In Igbo land for example the system of government
was quite unique and transcends the democracy of America and Europe. Virtually
every group was involved in the day to day affairs of each community, Isichei
(1976:38) quite acknowledged this that one thing that struck the first colonial
visitors to Igbo-land was the extent to which democracy was truly practiced.
Characteristically, different political institutions with varying combinations
abound in Igbo-land. This system of government has been referred to severally
by several authors as aristocracy; although Isichei believed that it is quite
at variance with the popular aristocracy as was practiced in most other parts
of the world.
Whatever is the case, the political system in the Northern and western part of
the appear completely different from that of Igbo-land. In the west for example
Obas were sole authorities and these have absolute power and authority over
While in the North following
the Jihad, Emirates were delineated and placed under the rulership of Emirs who
are only account table to the Northern Nigeria caliphate (the Sultan of
Sokoto). The system of traditional government in the Northern Nigeria provided
a veritable ground and an impetus for the introduction of indirect rule by the
British Colonial government. The success registered in the North was to
encourage the colonial administration to extend such system in Southern
Nigeria. This was in the bid to universalize indirect rule in Nigeria in line
with the British Government’s policy of indirect rule.
This was not quite welcomed and successful in Igbo-land. This is principally
because of the fact that it was not in line with the prevailing political
system and structure. In Igbo-land for example, although there were constituted
authorities that provided governance to the various communities, yet power and
governance was essentially a collective responsibility, except in few
communities such as Aboh and Onitsha which had traditions originating from some
where else. There were hardly communities that were ruled by kings (Ezes). This
gave rise to the popular ibo adage “Igbo enwe Eze” (the King in every man).
However, even in such isolated
communities that have Ezes (Kings) the powers of such Ezes were not absolute
although they may appear sacred and often lived in ritual seclusion. Agwuna
(1978:15 – 16) for example expressed that in Igbo-land Kings were not absolute
and therefore do not posses absolute powers, rather they took decisions in
conjunction with “Ndichie” (red cap Chiefs) and representative of other
Also, the colonial government in order to harmonise indirect rule selected and
installed warrant Chiefs many of whom were of questionable character and
doubtful background. This resulted in wide range unacceptability of warrant
The attainment of independence in 1960 and the introduction of constitutional
government saw a gradual decline in the political powers and influences of
traditional authorities across the country. Overtime, traditional authorities
became, gradually irrelevant in the political scheme of things. The period
following the emergence of the government of Murtala Mohammed (around 1976)
witnessed a boost in the political influence and powers of traditional
authorities. In 1976, for example, the Federal Government articulated a
national policy which aimed to restore the influence and respects of
traditional authorities. This was to incorporate them in both rural
administration and development, as well as restore and sustain the country’s
rich cultural heritage.
The need for this study emerged in response to these development. This is as a
result of the renewed desire for an effective medium and instrument for mass
mobilization at the grass root level for rural and national
development. This study specially seek the role of traditional authorities in
governance in Nigeria with particular reference to Anambra North Senatorial
zone of Anambra State.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problem of this study emerged in response to the desire to identify
veritable medium and instrument for rural administration and grass root mobilization
for economic development, social justice and social order. It must be realized
that the establishment of the three tiers of government is in pursuance of this
desire. Yet much more is still desirable. The appraisal of traditional
authorities and their roles in governance in Nigeria became very necessary and
appropriate as part of the efforts in searching for a viable alternative.
Evidence are mounting to show that there three tiers of government have been
failing in reaching out to same rural communities for effective mobilization
for economic and social order. Thus clashes and inter community fends appear to
be on the increase. The cases of Warri clash, Tiv-Jukun clash, and the
Aguleri-Umuleri clash just to mention a few are still fresh. In most of the
cases traditional authorities were used by the government in settling such
fends. Thus pointing to a veritable role which traditional authorities can be
used to perform.
It is argued however that traditional authorities are often closer to the
people since they are constituted from amount the people, the tendency for the
people to respect and listen to them is higher.
Also, since they are part of
the communities they are completely in tune with their needs, aspirations and
culture and traditions, yet evidence exists to show that constitutional
government appear to show less interest in delegating authorities. This appear
to make them redundant and irrelevant in the political scheme of things. The
result is that their wisdom and resourcefulness which could have been taped for
mere effective governance and economic development at the rural level are
allowed to waste.
Worst still, the generality of Nigerian societies are fast losing their culture
which is enshrined in their way of life. Their value systems, aspirations,
attitudes, norms etc are fast fading. This is as a result of over acculturation
which manifested in their preference for foreign goods and ways of life. This
made the search for an instrument for cultural sustenance especially through
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The fundamental objective of this study was to specifically identify and
appraise the roles of traditional authorities in governance in Nigeria. To achieve
this attempt was made to
Identify the roles of traditional authorities in governance in Nigeria.
Identify the place of traditional authorities in governance in Nigeria.
Assess the performance of traditional authorities in governance mobilization
for economic and social order.
Identify the roles of traditional authorities in settling inter and intra
Determine the extent of Chieftaincy fends and tussles in Igbo land.
1.4 THEORITICAL FOUNDATION OF
For several centuries
traditional authorities existed in form of Chieftaincy institution in many
parts of Igbo land. The term, Chief, is taken in most case to refer to
“Ndi-Iche” or “Ndi-Ochie” (old people). They are generally associated with the
ancestors. The underlying meaning of Chieftaincy can be derived from the names
given to titled men. In many parts of Igbo land it is based on a complex
partially separable symbolic component which collectively relate to a variety
of different structures of different traditions. According to Nzimiro (1972:83)
the three major terms referring to the kings or Chiefs are “Eze” concerned
fundamentally with his relationship to the sacred “Nze” complex, “Obi” which
alludes to his providing a secure forum for public meetings and court
proceedings and “Igwe” (the sky) that signifies his weight in the
society. The various roles aspects of traditional authorities identified are
suggested by these and other titles.
Fundamentally, the status of every Chief in Igbo land is grounded in a given
residential area either in a village or community. Within that residential
area, a Chief welds a commendable degree of social and political influence.
They are the policy makers and take serious decisions on issues concerning
wars, divorce, crimes such as murder and robbery, inter community relations,
marriage negotiations etc. They are according to Anderson (1972:25 - 26) known
for purity and truth fullness.
During meetings and discussions, the Chiefs speak first. In most cases they are
the symbols of their village jurisdictional boundaries. Their movements outside
these boundaries must therefore be ceremonial and well escorted actions. Thus
Anderson (1972: 28) observed that they symbolize the boundaries of the societal
communities as they rarely step beyond them. It is their responsibility
therefore to ensure the security of domain lives and properties within their
Always and everywhere Chiefs were referred to as “our father” (Nna anyi) and
their identity is closely bound up with a sort of patrillineage and clan
symbol. In some parts of Igbo land early Chiefs were also Chief Priest. This
explained why in most cases, especially in the traditional setting, Chiefs
appear to have very close relationship with powerful spirits which they tend to
be identified with. In ramification of the above, it became self evident that
the functions of Chiefs as traditional authorities in the traditional societies
are vast. Nzimiro (1972 : 65 – 68) summarized the functions of traditional
authorities in typical traditional societies to include: Political (policy
making and political decision) judicial (the administration of justice
executive (the enforcement of law and order) and military (the protection of
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research question guided this study.
What are the roles of traditional authorities in governance in Nigeria?
What is the place of traditional authorities in governance in Nigeria?
What is the level of performance of traditional authorities in grassroots
mobilization for economic and social order?
What are the roles of traditional authorities in settling inter and intra
To what extents are Chieftaincy fends and tussles in Igbo land?
What is the extent of government interference in the activities and functions
of traditional authorities?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study lie to a great extent in sensitizing the
government to embark on a more Urgent and more sincere appraisal of traditional
authorities especially in respect of their roles in governance. This
is with a view to identifying their relevance and usefulness so as
to provide a rationale for their incorporation in the political scheme of
things in Nigeria.
This study therefore aimed essentially to set a stage for a more urgent and more
comprehensive appraisal of traditional authorities in governance especially
within the Nigeria contest by desirable and relevant research persons and
agencies. This will help in placing traditional authorities in the right
It is therefore hoped that this study will be of immense value to the
government, research follows and agencies as well as Students of Business
Administration and management especially those of Institutes of Management and
This is because it will not
only provide them with adequate insight but will also provide an enabling
rationale for further studies.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study specifically focused on the
roles of traditional authorities in governance in Nigeria. However, due to the
limited time and resources available for this study, it was absolutely
difficult to undertake a study that will comprehensively cover the whole
country or even a full state. For this reason, this study was limited to
Anambra North Senatorial zone of Anambra state.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS AND
The following terms were
defined as they were used in this study.
These are constituted
authorities in the traditional setting that provide leadership in the
This refers to the act of or
system of political leadership.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY
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