The historical background of Nigerian government and politics involves the pre-colonial era, the colonial era and post-colonial era in Nigeria. The pre-colonial era is the period before the coming of the colonial masters to Nigeria; there was established various system of government referred to as traditional political system in several parts of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. The colonial era, was the period British held sway in Nigeria. The scramble for and the partitioning of West Africa by the European powers acted as the genesis of the establishment of the colonial administration in West Africa. The post-colonial era constitutes the period between the period of 1960 (independence period) and contemporary Nigeria of today (fourth republic). It, for example, highlights the post-independence political crises, military intervention and political administration
Pre-Colonial Political System in Nigeria
The Yorubas form a large group united move by language than culture. The Yorubas trace their origin to Oduduwa who was the founder of the Yoruba kingdom. Oduduwa had seven sons who later founded the first seven kingdoms of the Yoruba land and these kingdoms were united under a central leader known as Alaafin of Oyo. Hatred, jealousy, etc made the first seven kingdoms to split into fourteen new kingdoms and the central leadership now changed from the Alaafin of Oyo to Ooni of Ife who is the spiritual Head of the Yoruba. Oyo is regarded as the political headquarters of the Yoruba and was the most developed kingdom in the Yoruba traditional society and it administration is accepted as a model or a representation of the Yoruba. The king in Yoruba land is called Oba, the Yoruba kingdoms were headed by the Oba who must be a descendant of the Oduduwa. The Yorubas regarded Oyo as their political headquarters; the Oba of the Oyo kingdom has a special name known as the “Alaafin”. The Yoruba official religion was the traditional religion. The Alafin was to perform sacrifice from time to time or as the need arises. The essence of the sacrifice is to appease the Oduduwa the founder, ancestors and deities.
The Alaafin as the political head of the Oyo kingdom is assisted by his son called Aremo, who is not allowed to succeed him immediately he dies. Oyemesi is the seven king makers headed by the Bashorun. The Oyemesi is stronger than the Alaafin and can overrule any decision made by the Alaafin which is not acceptable to it.
The other officials apart from the Aremo include:
1. Ilari:- He is the permanent adviser to the Oba
2. Bashorun:- He is the Chief Minister or Prime Minister of the Kingdom.
3. Baale”- He is the village Head of the administration of the villages
4. Kakanfo:- he is the commander of the kingdom Armed Forces.
The chiefs or Obas and the baale are not appointed by the Alaafin even though they receive his blessings. There are certain limitations or checks and balances to the power of the Alaafin. The limitations include:- a) If Alaafin disagrees with Oyemesi and Ilari, the only option open to him is to commit suicide. b) Oyemesi could authorize the Bashorun to send empty calabash to Alaafin symbolizing rejection by the people. Alaafin is not to commit suicide if this happens. c) The executive council members also formed the legislature. Laws made were executed by the Oba and his council of advisers. The system of government in the traditional Yoruba society was a loose monarchical arrangement and highly democratic.
The Alaafin was the final court. Certain offences were regarded as serious offences, these include-murder, burglary,, land case, witchcraft, profaning the deities and homicide. This kind of offences that attract capital punishment is usually tried in the Oba’s palace or court. Minor offences such as family quarrels, exchange of abusive words, owing of debt were hand from the family level to the level where the parties involved were satisfied with the justice they have obtained.
Frontiers, E. (2022). POS 201 Nigerian Government and Politics. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/pos-201-nigerian-government-and-politics
Frontiers, Edu "POS 201 Nigerian Government and Politics" Afribary. Afribary, 03 Jul. 2022, https://afribary.com/works/pos-201-nigerian-government-and-politics. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.
Frontiers, Edu . "POS 201 Nigerian Government and Politics". Afribary, Afribary, 03 Jul. 2022. Web. 24 Sep. 2023. < https://afribary.com/works/pos-201-nigerian-government-and-politics >.
Frontiers, Edu . "POS 201 Nigerian Government and Politics" Afribary (2022). Accessed September 24, 2023. https://afribary.com/works/pos-201-nigerian-government-and-politics