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PROJECT TOPIC- WARRANT CHIEF INSTITUTION IN MBAISE AREA OF OWERRI PROVINCE (1902 – 1929)

PROJECT TOPIC- WARRANT CHIEF INSTITUTION IN MBAISE AREA OF OWERRI PROVINCE (1902 – 1929)

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

The Mbaise area of Owerri province in Imo State is situated in the heartland of the Igbo society. The area lies between 5 – 6 degrees latitude and 7- -7: 30 degrees east longitude. The area is found within the palm belt of south-eastern Nigeria. The Imo riverseparates the eastern part of Mbaise from Ngwa land of the Ayaba Court area of the Former Bende Division. The Mbaise area became a British colonial administration in the early years of the twentieth century.

This study seeks to explain the nature of the changes that occurred in this area within the elected period. It seeks to discover that the pre-colonial sociopolitical and economic organizations in the area stood as an obstacle to the British expanding imperialist interest which has to do with exploitation of human and material resources. Consequently, these institutions were supplanted by the colonial state.

The imposition of Warrant Chief System on Igboland was to maintain those laws and order which at least ensured the protection of the British imperialist interests. This helped the colonial state to solve the problem of inadequate members of staff and more significantly, insufficient funds, which would have prevented the realization of the main objective of colonialism. The development of the Warrant Chief System of political administration benefitted the British economically because it reduced the cost of imperialism.

The nature of socio-political and economic changes that occurred in Mbaiseandtheimposition of this alien system of administration on the peoples of South Eastern Nigeria was not an easy task. In order to make the newly created institution efficient, there was the need to give the people a new orientation. The most important was the Christian missionaries, who used the introduction of Western Education as one of the strategies towards the re-orientation of the people.

PROJECT TOPIC- WARRANT CHIEF INSTITUTION IN MBAISE AREA OF OWERRI PROVINCE (1902 – 1929)

SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY

A research on colonialism and the creation of Warrant Chiefs cannot be studied, without making reference to different sources. The primary sources consists of colonial document preserved in the Nigeria National Archives and Oral Information. The secondary sources consist of published work such as text books and unpublished works such as thesis and other research works carried on the related area.

PURPOSE OF STUDY

The main purpose of the study is to critically examine warrant chief institution in mbaise. Specifically: the study sought to: (1) analyse the struction of warrant chief in mbaise (2) Political consequences of warrant chief institution inIgboland (3) socio-political effects of warrant chief institution (4) Kingship institution in Igboland and Mbaise.

LITERATURE REVIEW

According to JC Anenethe imposition of British rule on the Eastern provinces which can also be described as the overthrow of indigenous authority falls into two phases. He noted that the first phase stretched from 1849 to 1891 while the second phase was characterized by assault on the sovereign independence of these people”. From the analysis of J.C Anen it is crystal clear that the British rule and subsequent warrant chief system was imposed forcefully on the people.

Similarly, G.N Uzoigwe in his work Evolution and relevance of Autonomous communities in contemporary Igboland: An Essay in Local Government, posited that … in certain quarters, establishment of British colonial administration led to the demise of political independence in Igbo towns. Uzoigwehastly argued that the towns was brought under the control of British imperial power to facilitate both administrative and imperial necessity”, This appears to explain that upon impositions of colonialism the British colonizers instituted native courts and installed warrant chiefs by warrant popularly known as warrant chiefs who controlled the people. Warrant chiefs were installed arbitrarily against popular wish.

Describing how vulnerable this institution was, A.E Afigbo (Ropes of sand) tagged them “Aritical tyrants”. We noted that warrant chiefs could be regarded as the outcome of a vagarant search that the colonial masters of a political system that would serve their dictational and exploitative model for governance. He made it obvious that the warrant chief institution was alien to the people, as was posited on them for personal gains of the colonial masters. The warrant chiefs were not accountable to the kiths and kin as they were more interested in licking their masters’ boots and being elevated as chief of chiefs.

In his work Status and influence of chiefs and Natural Rulers in the Easter Region of Nigeria. G.I Jones noted that “… Chiefs of the type envisaged … Are “strong chiefs” (except) with a few exceptions (did) not exist in this region. The people who are usually referred to as chiefs, and they can be any number of them today, have no executive judiciary or legislative powers vested solely in their office”, from the foregoing analysis of Gones, the Ezeship institution tagged “warrant chief” was subject to at any time since there was no defined legal power vested on it. A critical examination of legal procedures involved in the creation of traditional rulers reviews the artificiality of these warrant chiefs.

In his Igbo community histories: Locality and history in south eastern Nigeria, Sievers stressed that it is important to note that since no Eze or autonomous community has legal legitimacy without governmental recognition, it followed then that the same government could abolish a community or depose its Eze at will if it deemed it necessary. This means that the whole institution of Ezeship and autonomous community were subject to abuse. The institutionalization of warrant chiefs in Igboland had been under the whims and caprices of the colonial masters who used and deposed them at will.

Though, these gallery of literatures on colonial rule and its effects abound there has not been available literature that hammers on warrant chief in Mbaise despite its vitality in chief making in Igboland. Therefore this academic loophole is what this project attempts to explore.

PROJECT TOPIC- WARRANT CHIEF INSTITUTION IN MBAISE AREA OF OWERRI PROVINCE (1902 – 1929)

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