History of Colonial Nigeria (Part 2)

continuation from Part 1

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates

Due to inadequate resources and money to manage the North, South and Lagos colony profitably and to reduce administrative cost the three regions were merged together. First the Lagos colony and the Southern Protectorate were merged on May 1, 1906 while the unification with the Northern Protectorate was completed on January 1, 1914. The New nation was presided over by a Governor-General while the RWAFF as well as other militias operating within the territory was reformed into the Nigerian Regiment. The regions and local administration were administered by the traditional chiefs and also had a native treasury while the central administration was majorly controlled by Britons and some Africans.

 The British adopted different forms of administration for the South and Northern regions, for in the North the Governor and the Emir co-signed legislation which were issued in form of decree while in the South the Governor got approval from the legislative house. Also the lingua franca in the North was Hausa while in the South English had official status.

The British Colonial masters under Sir Lugard went further to prevent any form of integration between both regions and also barred Christian Missionaries from having access to the Northern Region. Though Northern leaders also resisted the spread of education by the Christian missionaries this ostensibly led to the North lagging behind the south in literacy level. The south grew rapidly both in education and economic development creating a huge gap when placed side by side with the north.

The British also adopted a divide- and-rule policy to prevent any united opposition to its authority in the country. Lugard, according to historians had a condescending attitude towards educated and westernized African elites in the South but had a strong affinity towards the Northern leaders.

Rise of Nationalism in Colonial Nigeria

Huge taxes collected by the British administration and the need for more political representation led to mounting dissents from the citizens. Several attempts to quell these agitations led to successive political reforms from 1914, 1922 until 1946 when each geographical group was allowed to have its own House of Assembly. 

The artificial amalgamation created by combining diverse people and cultures soon became a major political issue in the country. Nationalism began to grow mainly in the south with their activities centered on increased participation of the natives in government processes at the center or national level.

These Nationalist who had been exposed to European influence opposed indirect rule with claims that it strengthened an old-fashioned and antiquated ruling class. Pan-African groups formed by Nigeria Students abroad particularly in British schools also joined in the agitations for involvement of the westernized locals in government activities.

Several pressure groups and organizations soon emerged like the Nigerian Law Association, Nigerian Union of Teachers displaying resilient opposition to indirect rule in colonial Nigeria. However one shortcoming here was that majority of these organizations were tribal and by 1940 the major ethnic groups were at the forefront of opposition to British rule. Notable among them is the Igbo Federal Union and the Egbe Omo Oduduwa a Yoruba Cultural movement.

One significant figure during this political period as early as the 1920s was Herbert Macaulay often referred to as the father of Nigerian Nationalism. Using his newspaper the Lagos daily News he created and aroused political awareness in the masses and vehemently opposed British rule in Nigeria.

The success of the need to grant independence to Nigeria could be traced to the activities of nationalist.

The British found it very difficult to control their treasure due to the diverse nature of the country and the troubles associated with merging them cohesively. The tussle to liberate black people from European domination spearheaded by Pan-Africanist inspired the creation of political parties which inevitably led to the need to grant full autonomy to Nigerians.

Independence of the Nigerian State

Due to persistent agitations from the South for representation and overwhelming taxation, in 1957 the Western and Eastern regions became self-governing under the parliamentary system while the North gained similar status two years later. This was done to repress the option of radical resistance by the natives.

The process of transferring governance was gradual but slow with policies first enacted to allow the people have more input in governance. There was however the issue of minority tribes fearful of political and economic dominance by the major ethnic groups, further dividing the fragile nation. Secondly the Northern region were averse to independence being granted with claims of not being prepared for it.

 Nonetheless formal preparations for rule to be handed over to Nigerians were held at a conference at the Lancaster House in London in 1957 and 1958. To have a concise opinion, the various ethnic groups had delegates selected from each region to tinker on a new constitution for an independent Nigeria.

Finally on October 1, 1960, by a British Act of Parliament, Nigeria was declared an independent state with Nnamdi Azikiwe as Governor-General which was ceremonial and Tafawe Balewa the Prime Minister.

A plebiscite in February 1961 was conducted by the British in Some part of Southern and Northern Cameroons to determine their position in Nigeria. The Former overwhelmingly voted to join French administered Cameroon while the latter largely populated by Muslims chose to merge with Nigeria’s northern region.

Despite the over 60 years of being a nation, Nigeria is yet to attain nationhood; political, ethnic and religious differences constantly creates conflicts among the ethnic nationalities that make up the country.

From your perception do you see the colonial Nigeria and amalgamation as a mistake that was made in 1914? And despite this merge what do you suggest Nigeria as well as other African nations do to solve the myriads of problems facing it as a result of faulty merges across the continent?

Are there any benefits you can identify from the era of colonialism and do you think we would have been better off without their interference?

1 thought on “History of Colonial Nigeria (Part 2)”

  1. Pingback: HISTORY OF COLONIAL NIGERIA (PART 1) | thepointedge.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *