History of Aguata Local Government Area
1.1 BACKGROUND 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 Igboland by 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, was 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. More so, 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 both 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;
Make it contribution towards the piecemeal recovery and documentation of the various aspects of our historical experience.
Stimulate debates and further studies on the topic.
Portray the various systems, their similarities and contrasts.
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 Igbo 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 in-depth analysis of the. political organisation of Igboland depicting the village and village-group as the highest administrative unit, which was autonomous, with the age-grades exercising the executive functions.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
S/NO COMMUNITIES POPULATION
1 Uga 27,304
2 Ezinifite 15,921
3 Ekwulobia 15,968
4 Ogboji 4,983
5 Aguluezechukwu 6,786
6 Oko 9,227
7 Isuofia/Ikenga 18,723
8 Nkpologwu 8,752
9 Umuchu 29,098
10 Achina 24,098
11 Akpo 13,014
12 Amesi 5,190
13 Umuomaku 5,059
14 Enugwu-Umuonyia/Oneh/Agbudu 3,203
15 Igboukwu 29,611
16 Nanka 26,103
17 Awgbu/Amaetiti 14,522
18 Umuona 2,327
19 Oraeri 7,263
20 Umunze/Ihite 37,680
21 Ezira 6,220
22 Ogbunka 8,526
23 OwerreEzekala/Nkerechi 10,581
24 Isulo/Eziaga 4,878
25 Ajalli 4,341
26 Akpu 4,486
27 Ufuma 12,914
28 Awa/Ndiukwuenu/Okpeze 3,996
29 Nawfia 5,324
30 Ndiowu 4,681
31 Ndike/Amaokpala/Omogbo 6,122
32 Ndiokolo/Ndiokpaleke/Ndiokpaleze 2,721
S/NO COMMUNITIES POPULATION
1 Igbo – Ukwu 54,184
2 Uga 50,842
3 Umuchu 35,890
4 Ekwulobia 40,709
5 Achina 26,562
6 Ezinifite 24,111
7 Isuofia 21,110
8 Akpo 16,628
9 Aguluezechukwu 14,005
10 Amesi 12,564
11 Nkpologwu 11,959
12 Oraeri 9,655
13 Ikenga 7,604
14 Umuona 5,328
1. V. C. Uchendu, The Igbo of South-East Nigeria (New York; Hart Rinehart and Winston Incorporated, 1965) p.3
2. Ibid p.43
3. A. E. Afigbo, The Warrant Chiefs: Indirect Rule in South–Eastern Nigeria 189 1-1929,(London; Longmans, 1972) p.7
4. Ibid. p.77
5. S. N. Nwabara, Iboland: A Century of Contact with Britain 1860-1960,
(London; Hodder and Stoughlon, 1977) p.162
6. Ekong E. Ekong, “Traditional Rulership m Contemporary Nigeria Government System and the Dilemma of Relevance”, in (ed) Aborisade, O., Local Government and the Traditional Rulers in Nigeria (Ile University of Ife Press Ltd, 1985) p.235.
7. B. C. Okoro, “Local Government System in Mbano up to1960″, unpublished B. A. Project report, Department of History UNN 1991. P.3
8. Supplement to Anambra State of Nigeria Gazette 1976 (Enugu; Government Printer Enugu, 1976) Edict number 54.’