Pre-Colonial Administration In Nigeria.
Before the coming of the Europeans into Nigeria, the various ethnic groups were autonomous and had developed their traditional governmental systems in such a way that it reflected the culture, beliefs and traditions of the different areas.
The Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo and Yoruba established distinct and functioning governments which were peculiar to their environment. While the Hausa-Fulani Empire established a centralized system of government deeply rooted in the Islamic religion, the Yoruba Kingdom had a government that provided for checks and balances on the organs of government.
The traditional political organization of the Igbo people provided neither for centralized nor semi-centralized government for there were many institutions sharing political authority, sometimes with none having absolute power over members of the community.
The Igbo Political Institution
As a result of the existence of many political institutions in Igbo land, there was no centralization of power among the Igbo. Instead, political institutions were performing similar or different functions.
There were no traditional rulers in the form of Kings (as among the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani) and so no hereditary claims to traditional stools. In this setting, there was never an Igbo Kingdom or Empire. The largest political unit was the village.
The various institutions that exercised governmental power included family heads, the council of elders or the ofo title holders, the age-grades, the ozo title holders as well as the lineage heads.