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Traditional Government

Author: nick on 13-09-2013, 21:00, views: 2 955

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Installation of Ukpum Group Head, Chief Umoren of Ikot Ekop in late 1920's.Installation of Ukpum Group Head, Chief Umoren of Ikot Ekop in late 1920's.Political and Social Organisation

 

Traditional government in Ikot Abasi was carried out in the different social structures described above, viz., ufok, ekpuk, idung or obio and clan (ikpa isong). Settled in their respective segmentary societies, the people of Ikot Abasi developed the indigenous social, political and judicial systems. The main unit of administration was the village. The government of each village was democratic. It was carried out through the family, lineage and village councils and cultural societies such as Ekong, Ekpo Nyoho, Atat, Ekpe and Idiong, and Ebre, a purely women's cultural organisation (Akpan, 1985: 11-20).

 

Ekpuk or Owok (Village) Meetings

 

The basic unit of the indigenous organisation is the ufok, which is a household of extended family (ekpuk). A number of households form ekpuk (extended family), or Owok (a village ward which may contain several ekpuk). Each ekpuk has a central square or hall, where meetings are held, representing a general assembly of all the heads of ufok and other prominent men who meet to discuss matters affecting the extended family or ekpuk. The Chairman of such meetings is the chief or head of the ekpuk, Oboong Ekpuk.

 

Village Council

 

A collection of extended families or lineages (ekpuk) forms the village. In some cases, like Ete, the various lineages have been upgraded to villages which are then grouped together to form Ete Federated Town Council. The same can be said of Ibekwe, Okon and Essene, the last of which has 14 wards (owok) each consisting of several compounds.

 

In each village or town, as the case may be, there is a village or town council, members of which are the representatives of the various extended families (ekpuk), usually elected or appointed by the Oboong Ekpuk. The village or town council is recognised by the State government.

 

The town council handles all the political issues affecting the village or town and its general administration. The Chairman of the council is usually elected by the members of the council from among themselves for the duration of the council, which varies widely among the villages or towns.

 

The Council of Chiefs

 

Apart from the Town or Village Council, there is the Council of Chiefs who are the custodians of the ancient traditions of the people. The chiefs from the various ekpuk constitute the membership of the Council of Chiefs. While the Town or Village Council handles political and administrative matters, the Council of Chiefs looks into traditional matters, including land tenure issues. It is headed by Oboong Idling, selected by the member chiefs from among themselves and recognised by the government.

 

The Installation of a Village Chief in Ikot Abasi area
The right to wear Ntinya (crown) could not be purchased; it was given through election
of the best from among eligible candidates (Jeffreys, 1932)


1 The candidate must be -
  • a direct descendant of the original founder of the settlement
  • a title holder, usually a family head, Oboong and a senior member of Ekpo Nyoho, the principal society in the land;
  • of old age, great experience and wisdom,
  • of good character.
2. He is selected by the king-makers (the village council of chiefs and kinship representatives) as Akpan Ikpo, chief mourner, to the late Oboong, which notifies his selection as Oboong-zlect and beneficiary of the deceased. He must complete the burial ceremonies, nkukho, of the late Oboong.
3. He performs ufakha Ekpo Nyoho ceremony, i. e. taking over of Ekpo Nyoho leadership, as the highest authority in the land and a sign of the ancestors' approval.
4. He is vested with the title of Oboong Idung, village head.
 
5. The king-makers present him for official recognition to the people and government authorities. (Source: Umo-Essen, 1980)
  

The Clan Council.

 

A number of villages, as noted above, constitute a clan. Each clan has a council comprising village heads and members of Idiong cultural society. The clan council made lawsfor the whole clan and ensured their compliance. It also performed other duties for the benefit of the whole clan (Ekpe, 1985).

 

The Traditional Rulers' Council

 

The Traditional Rulers Council, recognised by the state government, is a meeting of all the Clan Heads, presided over by the Paramount Ruler. This council meets once a month and assists the Local Government Council in taking decisions on all traditional matters.

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Category: Tradition and Culture

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