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By Audu Jacob, PhD

Abundant literature exists to discredit the erroneous claim by some
European scholars about the non-existence of a formal and organized system
of government in Africa and Nigeria before the advent of colonialism in
Africa. However, there tend to be a lopsided documentation even from
among the indigenous scholars of the pre-colonial political administration in
Nigeria in favour of the three major ethnic groups (Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba political pre-colonial system) out of the over 300 ethnic groups that
constitute the country. There seem to be an intellectual conspiracy against
the minority ethnic groups including Igala kingdom because as
Abdullahi(2006) had observed, of the three major ethnic groups identified in
Nigeria by a slogan WAZOBIA, the WA in it means come in both Yoruba
and Igala yet; little has been documented on the pre-colonial political
administration of the Igala kingdom. This paper as a point of departure
attempts to explore the pre-colonial political administration in one of the socalled
minor ethnic groups located in the North Central geo-political zone of
Nigeria’s political landscape, the Igala Kingdom. The justification for the
Igala Kingdom is predicated on the fact that even though available literature
have acknowledged the existence of pre-colonial administration in Nigeria
before the advent of colonialism, efforts have been on the major ethnic
groups as if the minor groups had no formal system of government before
the advent of colonialism. Isiaq(2008) for instance had observed that ever
before the commencement of colonialism, the people of what later became
known as Nigeria were living under different administration and political
arrangement. He however noted that he will “take a penetrating analysis of
the following notable pre-colonial systems in Nigeria”. The notables he
noted are the Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani and Igbo pre-colonial political system.
There is therefore a tendency as Coleman(1986) noted for the smaller and
more fragmented groups to lose their identity and gravitate toward the
predominating groups, particularly the Hausa. But as a matter of fact, before
the advent of the colonialism, Coleman(1986) had noted that about seven
prominent black kingdoms were noticeable in the forest belt, thus, the
Ashanti, Dahomey, Ife, Oyo, Bini, Igala and Jukun (Apa) Kingdoms. Hence,
this paper attempts a discourse on the pre-colonial political system of the
Igala kingdom.
The Igala Kingdom occupies a strategic place in the history of
Nigeria; it is the 9th largest ethnic group out of the existing over 300 ethnic
groups in Nigeria. It is one of the few ethnic groups that share intimate
affinity with the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. Aside of that, Igala
orthography (alphabetical writings and correct spellings of words) according
to Ocheja (2011) is one of the only twenty seven or so orthography
recognized by the National Educational Research and Development Council
(NERDC) of the Federal Ministry of Education as having got an acceptable
orthography out of the over three hundred main languages that exist in
Nigeria today.

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