SOCIO-POLITICAL ORGANISATION OF THE IBIBIO
The Ibibio are found mainly in the coastal southern part of Nigeria. They share close connection with the Annang, Efik, Oron and Ibeno people who also speak varieties of closely related dialect. They are found mainly in Akwa-Ibom State. The Ibibio had political dominance and influence amongst other groups in Akwa-Ibom State as a result of their population.
Their political system had features of gerontocracy and egalitarianism i.e. the political system is based on rule by old people and equality.
In terms of political organization, a traditional Ibibio society consists of communities that were made up of large families with blood relations. Each family is headed by their constitutional and religious leader called Ikpaisong. The Afe, Asan or Esop Ikpaisong constitutes the traditional council or court. The members of the Ekpo or Obong society serve as messengers of the spirit and military of the communities.
The Ibibio traditional religion was characterized by worship, consultation and interaction and invocation of the Abasi Enyong (God of Heaven) and the Abasi Isong (God of the earth). With the coming of the Christain missionaries and their activities in the nineteenth century, Christian gained ground. First, were the Qua Iboe Church, Methodist, the Roman Catholic and the Presbyterian churches.
The efforts of Mary Slessor led to the end of the killing of twins, which had been a practice amongst the Ibibio people. The Ibibio are amongst the Nigerian people who adopted the Insibidi writing system especially amongst the Ekpe society.
The Ibibio adopted socio-political system very similar to other groups in the Cross River valley. The Ibibio lived in small socio-political groups. Power and authority was distributed on the basis of membership of the various societies and age grade groups. There were organisations or societies for men and women. Common societies for men include the Ekong and Ekpe, all Ibibio male adults were eligible to membership of the Ekpe society, which had shrines built in the central locations, while that of women include Ebre and Iban Isong.
These societies or organisations ensured peace and orderliness in the society. The Ekpe was the most important and significant organ of government served as legislative, executive and judiciary organs. The Ekpe imposed fines, punishment and death penalty. Members of the society naturally enjoyed certain privileges and rights.