Traditional administration is an important relic of the pre-colonial and political order that poses a special challenge to post colonial state makers over time, the institution of traditional administration under went many changes in it’s procedures and rules of appointment, and in it’s jurisdiction and power. Some of these changes resulted from outside interferences (especially during the colonial period).
In Northern part of Nigeria as in the case elsewhere in African continent, traditional administration relevance for the post colonial political order and state – craft sterms from their control over (predominantly) rural communities. Traditional administration continues to control most of the important rural survival strategies: allocation of land, natural survival strategies allocation of land, natural resources, communal labour practices and in some instances law and order.
Their strength as rural leaders derives not only from their command over the communities, but is also firmly rooted in colonial policies of indirect rule or what Mandami (1966:37) calls decentralized despotism. It was common for traditional administration to be given extensive powers, especially power of coercion. They became local level law maker, tax collectors, police commissioners and judges, customary law became a mechanism for upholding the colonial order perhaps even the extents that the colonial order became the “customary” colonial authorities frequently intervened in matttters traditional and customary. They regularly appointed chiefs were there were noen and disposed those traditional leaders that opposed them, although Mandani’s (ib:d) argument is a compelling one with great explanatory value he like, so many other scholars in quity of treating often very complex relationship between traditional leaders and colonial authorities in an oversimplified manner. To start with, one can present sufficient evidence that no all traditional administration accepted playing their part as depots. They resisted the colonial authorities, but not always in open conformation, secondly, he sets the relationship between traditional administration and the colonial authorities in a rather rigid cast. He suggests not only that all traditional leaders were (decentralized) despots, but also these they were so all the time. This, we know is also not extirely true. Like most others social actors, traditional leaden constantly reviewed their relationship with the colonial state, and it was not uncommon for sympathizers to become challengers.