A Critical Appraisal Of Political and Constitutional Development in Nigeria


A Critical Appraisal Of Political and Constitutional Development in Nigeria


The historical background of Nigerian government and politics involves the precolonial era and the colonial era in Nigeria. The pre-colonial era is the period before the coming of the colonial masters to Nigeria while the colonial era is the period that colonial administration was established in the country (Nigeria). Before the advent of the European Colonial Masters on the coast of West Africa; there was established various system of government referred to as traditional political system in several parts of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. These orderly advanced systems of government had all the organs of government established the principles of checks and character izing some of them. Nigeria, prior to the imposition of the British colonial rule and carving the subsequent as a conglomeration of states, had about two hundred and fifty ethnic groups. Each of the ethnic groups maintained a different and independent system of administration. In this study, therefore, we shall limit our discussions to the three majority ethnic groups of Hausa – Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo in Nigeria. For example the system of government of the old Oyo Empire (Yoruba land) in the period before 1800 was like most other kingdoms and empires that existed in Africa. It was monarchical in nature, based on the not too easy to run principle of checks and balances. It is therefore, total fallacious and misleading the view expressed that Africans had no system of government before their invasion of the African continent. 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. A part from Liberia, the whole West African countries were under the rulership of Britain, France, Germany at some time and Portugal. These nations shared out West African countries as a result of its partitioning that took place during the Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885. In response to the call made at the 1890 Brussel Conference, the European nations that shared out West African countries, sent their officials to these territories for effective occupation and that was the commencement of the colonial rule or indirect rule in West Africa. Therefore, the period of 1885 to 1950s served as the period of indirect rule in West Africa. This period witnessed political and economic dehumanization for the people of West Africa. This explains why the colonial era has a great impact on the pattern of administration in Nigeria