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1.1BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The pre-colonial Igbo society was a kind of village-democracy. Every member of the society participated in the running of the affairs of the village in one form or another. The Oha-na-eze (usually made up of all adult males) took final decisions in all matters. The age-grade members of the town executed the final decisions. .
Law and Order was highly maintained and observed by all. But the European intrusion disrupted this set-up. The colonial masters, out of ignorance, imposed their own form of government: The Warrant-Chiefs System or indirect rule.
The Warrant-Chiefs exercised absolute powers over the people. They were high-handed in the administration of justice. The Court Clerks and messengers were equally corrupt and dictatorial. Taxes were later imposed on the people. There were general disenchantment with the system. This system was resisted in a widespread riot of 1929. The Aba Women’s riot of 1929 was part of the resentment shown by the people.
Thereafter, the colonial administration embarked upon the reforms of the system. In 1950, a new system of local government was put in place. But the most comprehensive attempt at local government reform in Nigeria was that of. 1976.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS:
Admittedly, before the invasion of Igbolandby the Europeans, the political entities in the forms of villages and towns had their individual administrative structures, for local government. These structures had sufficed for their needs. Thus, the towns and villages within the political sphere of the modem Aguata Local Government Area, were no exception to this.
Since the invasion of this area under study.tin the present time, these administrative institutions had either been phased out totally, or has undergone changes to suit the present needs of government. Moreso, the history of these institutions in the past are largely left to memory. These memories are unfortunately fast disappearing. This, therefore, gave rise to the need for documentation.
Attempts, it must be admitted, have been made by some scholars of borh history and other disciplines to unearth some information about the area under study. However, none has produced a systematic, constructive and cohesive work on this theme. Rather, only aspects dealing with individual component towns or the modem local government structure had been given attention.
To this end, an attempt would be made to show the dynamic progression from the past types of local administration to the present form.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The attempt being made here is to undertake a meaningful assessment of past experiences pertaining to the ways and means of local governance in the Aguata area from the past to the present time By this, the purpose of this work is to;
i. Make it contribution towards the piecemeal recovery and documentation of the various aspects of our historical experience.
ii. Stimulate debates and further studies on the topic.
iii. Portray the various systems, their similarities and contrasts.
iv. Provide information and stimulate public interest in this age of self awareness.
1.4 SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
This work is intended to embrace all the towns which make up Aguata Local Government Area. It begins from the pre-colonial era till 1991.
This research utilises both the primary and secondary source materials:
On the primary source form; oral information have - been collected through the interviewing of people who are reliable owing to their positions in their respective towns, villages or lineage.
Moreover, the services of the National Archives Enugu were fully utilised. Here adequate use of documents relating to administrative activities and information on the Aguata area were also used.
From the secondary 'source materials, various published scholarly works were utilised in the course of research. Books and journals dealing on the lgbo local administrative systems and the impact of local governments, were consulted.
1.5 LITERATURE REVIEW
Dr. V. C. Uchendu, in his book, The Igbo of south-East Nigeria, tries to bring to light the difference facets of Igbo social, political, and economic activities. I He gives an indeptanalysis of the. politicalorganisation of Igboland depicting the village and village-group as the highest administrative unit, which was autonomous, with the age-grades exercising the executive functions. 2
The work, thus, is very relevant to this research. It gives a broad and clear view on the pre-colonial local government structures of lgboland of which Aguata area forms a part.
Writing on the institution of Warrant-Chiefs, Professor Afigbo in his work, The Warrant Chiefs highlights the indigenous political background showing the reasons for the failure of the system.3 He also gives the background to the reactions of the people, which climaxed in the 1929 Aba Women's riot. He also showed the attendant restructuring of that political organisation.
The relevance of his book to the research, therefore, lies on the detailed historical study of the first political structure for local government instituted by the Europeans to achieve law and order in Igboland, Ijaw and Ibibioland.4
On his own part, Dr. S. N. Nwabara in his book, Iboland: A Century with Britain 1860-1960, deals specifically, not only on the history of Igboland but also on the contacts with the Europeans.5 He gives a vivid picture of the effects of the hundred years of contact in various aspects of lgbo society. In the course of this X-ray; be deals with the political institutions erected by the colonial over-lords from 1860-1960.
Ekong E. Ekong, in his article "Traditional Rulership in Contemporary Nigeria Government system and the Dilemma of Relevance" in Local Government and Traditional Rulers in Nigeria.(ed) Aborisade, 0., examines some of the encumbrances in the functioning of the local government system. He identifies traditional Rulers as "forces of retrogression" who constitute unnecessary burdens on local government activity in Nigeria. 6
Thus, his work highlights some of the failures of the new local government system of which Aguata forms a part.
"Local Government System in Mbano up to 1960", an unpublished project report by Okoro, B.C., traces the beginning of local government system in Mbano area from its inception to 1960. In Iris work, the structural changes which characterised the history of local government systems in the former Eastern region, and East-Central state of Nigeria, were brought to the fore. Of particular relevance in this work is the various structures of local governments in the Eastern Region which were a uniform phenomena in the region. 7
The supplement to Anambra State of Nigeria Gazette 1976, also gives an insight to the laws establishing the 1976 local government reform in Anambra State. 8 Through this source material the research would be in a better stand to fully appreciate the achievements of Aguata Local Government Area, and pass comments on its areas of failure.
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