Non-centralized States

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Welcome to class! 

In today’s class, we will be talking about the non-centralized states. Enjoy the class!

Non-centralized State

Non-centralized State

These are states communities in which political power is not in the hands of a single ruler or person. Another name for this is decentralization. Examples include Igbo, Ibibio, Urhobo, Isoko, Idoma and Tiv.

Features of these states

  1. No central government
  2. The basic social unit was the village
  3. The compound was the smallest unit of social setting
  4. Religious activities played a great role in these states. A very good example of these non-centralised states is Igbo.
  5. Government is usually more effective and efficient; responsive and responsible.

The Igbo in pre-colonial times

The Igbo came from the Jews to the areas known as Awka and Orlu. They have a segmentary political system, i.e. no central government e.g. king. It can also be called a republican (no monarchy)

Socio-political institutions

  1. Ama-Ala means village democracy (they make laws)
  2. Kingship institutions (in some towns like Onitsha, Nri and Oguta). These kings are not all that powerful.
  3. Title societies – fee-paying organization.
  4. Secret Societies – e.g. Ekpe and masquerade.
  5. Age grades organization.
  6. The Osu – cult slaves.

Traditional worship of Chineke, Ibiniukpabi of Arochukwu, the Agballa oracle at Awka, the Igwekala oracle at Umunneocha, Amadioha oracle of Ozuzu and Aro travelling traders.

Political and social structure

1st-  Village

2nd- Maximal Lineage ( ward)

3rd- Major Lineage(  ward section)

4th – Minimal Lineage ( sub ward section)

5th- Household or family ( smallest unit)   


The Igbos have no centralised authority, yet some factors bound them together. They include

  1. Powerful oracles e.g. Oracle of Chukwu at Aro, amadioha, igwekala etc
  2. Markets – big central market for every Igbo group to meet for socio-religious purposes.
  3. Trade routes – this link all villages together.
  4. Practise of Exogamy – a system of marriage outside the tribe.
  1. Definition of Non-centralised states.
  2. Features of Non-centralised states.
  3. Describe their Socio-political structure and institutions.


  1. Describe the importance of the Aro people in the history of southern Nigeria.

Ijo, Efik and Itshekiri

Socio-political organization of Ijo and Efik
  1. They are divided into clans known as ibe. They had no central control.
  2. Only the high priest had authority over the clan.
  3. Villages under clan enjoyed a large degree of Independence.
  4. Village assembly known as amagula was the main political authority.

They had secret societies played important roles; maintained law and order and trained youths. Women cannot join them. They held meetings and had a system of grades.

Socio-political structure of Itshekiri

They have a compact system with the Ode Itshekiri as the capital

  1. Olu is the head of administration and head of chiefs ( ojoye)
  2. Olgbosere – Prime minister and chief adviser
  3. Iyasere – war leader
  4. Uwangue – custodian of the Olu’s regalia
Political organization
  1. The monarch acquired more power
  2. The political competition was fierce
  3. Their economy was majorly fishing, production of salt and textile etc
General evaluation
  1. Socio-political organization of Ijo and Efik
  2. Socio-political structure of Itshekiri
  3. Political organization.


  • Discuss the innovations introduced in the political, social and economic development in the coastal states following the trans-Atlantic slave trade.


In our next class, we will be talking about Indigenous Industries in Nigeria.  We hope you enjoyed the class.

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