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This system of government places political leadership on land ownership. It developed in Europe from A.D. 476 to A.D. 1500. Similar condition also existed almost all over West Africa prior to the introduction of colonial rule.

In Europe during the middle ages, the lords gave land to the vassals who worked on it. They were paid dues by the vassals for working on the land which did not belong to them. Similarly in West Africa, traditional rulers held such powers and authorities. For example, the Ashantihene in the ancient Ashante Kingdom in Ghana was an all-powerful king that owned all the land and had the right to give out to vassals to work upon.

In Nigeria, the Feudal Lords were the Emirs, the Obas, the Ovies, the Amanyanabos, the Obongs and other powerful traditional rulers. They had control over land which was a very strong source of wealth. Thus, due to the large amount of income derived from such land, these feudal Lords became paramount and dominant and provided political leadership in their areas of jurisdiction.