Characteristics of Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial Governance

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Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial Governance

Hausa/Fulani pre-colonial governance was characterized by a set of distinctive features that defined their societal structure.

Last week I explained the reasons why indirect rule succeeded completely in the Northern part of Nigeria (that is the Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial administration). However, after publishing that content some students sent me mails, requesting that I should highlight the features of Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial administration. Consequently, this write-up is going to give you a brief history of Hausa/Fulani system and the features of characteristics of the system.

I strongly encourage you to carefully read this work if you wish to understand how the Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial administration worked and some of the significant features of the system.

Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial administration

Before the advent of Colonial rule in Nigeria, the system of government in Northern Nigeria was based on the Emirate system. The political authority was vested in the Emir. He was an absolute ruler. However, he governed with certain office holders who had specific functions. The Emirates was divided into districts. The Hakimi was responsible for the collection of taxes and maintenance of law and order within his area. Each village was administered by a village heads. Tax collectors (including village heads) retained a certain proportion of the tax collected for themselves.

The Muslim laws known as Sharia were used in the Emirates and they were Supreme as the laws of God. The Emir made laws outside the Sharia, but which were not contrary to it. He delegated authority and set the laws aside when he considered them inappropriate.

Accordingly, the Emir was the chief executive of the Emirate. He was both the political and religious head of the people. He was helped in the performance of the executive functions by his office holders who were responsible and accountable to him. The Emir was also the head of the judiciary. The Sharia governed the operations of the government and behavior of individuals.

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The lowest judge in the Emirate judicial system was the village head who settled minor cases and punish offenders. His court dealt with serious crimes and settled land dispute and even punish offenders. Death sentences were pronounced offenders. Death sentences were pronounced only by the Emir. An official trained in Moslem laws is called Alkali and he saw to the administration of these laws.

Functions of the Emir in Hausa/Fulani Traditional Polical System

1. The Emir appoints his officials e.g Madawaki, Waziri, Galadima, Hakimi etc.

2. He provided social services for the people

3. He organized his people for communual work

4. He organized his people for the defense of the emirates

5. He enforced the Islamic law (Sharia)

6. He was the spiritual head of the Emirate.

Features of the Hausa/Fulani Traditional Polical System

1. Political powers were concentrated in the hands of one person known as the Emir. He performed both Executive, Legislative and Judicial duties at the same time.

2. There was the existence of tax system in the Hausa/Fulani Traditional Political System. This was actually why indirect rule wasn’t a big problem for them to adopt with.

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3. Judicial decisions in the Hausa/Fulani Traditional Polical System was based on the Muslim Sharia law which is headed by the Alkali with the Emir at the apex

4. It was undemocratic in Nigeria because the people were not allowed to decide who rules them. Accordingly, they were to privileged to have some rights like the right to expression, religion etc.

5. The Hausa/Fulani pre-colonial political administration violated the principle of separation of powers between the powers of the organs of the government were concentrated in the hands of one person.

So far, i have discussed the how the Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial administration worked, functions of the Emir and some of the features of the system. I believe this article has done well in explaining everything you need to know about the Hausa/Fulani Pre-colonial administration. However, if you have any important questions or comment, leave it at the comment section below this article.


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