Independence Day Specials (V): Nigeria on the Eve of Amalgamation

Remember that in the early 1900, the Union Jack had already been hoisted in Lokoja by Lord Lugard. By hoisting the flag, it simply means that every kingdom under the Northern emirate had automatically fell under his (Lugard) leadership. This strength further stretched to gradually cover the South. After Lugard’s return from his attempt on the Hong kong aspiration in 1912, he was saddled with the mission to join the southern and Northern ends of the Niger area.

By so, he was made the Governor of both the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. The capital now based in Lagos. He then appointed a lieutenant Governor to be in charge of the affairs of the protectorate of the Northern Nigeria.

Because this task was too much to handle in separation, the necessity for a forceful unity of the two division grew even more.

  • first, the protectorate of the Northern Nigeria was so poor that the larger chunk of its administration was to be taken care of by the surplus on the Colony and Protectorate of the Southern Nigeria’s budgetary allocation.
  • The southern surplus as it reflects on the budget came as a result of its ports and assess to exports which are always busy all year round as against the seasonal River Niger traffic then. Goods from Northern Nigeria were channeled through the Southern corridors. More money for the South at the expense of the North.

Thus, the amalgamation will would not only unite the two division but also unite some services like the railway systems, posts and telegraphs, currency, transport, army and police.

It would be easy for the Colonialists to run all these service under one administration with very less cost.

However, the Lugard’s amalgamation failed to address the separate ideology existing between the two division (North and South). The separate administrative units – Protectorate of the North and the protectorate of the South — were retained still. A lieutenant Governor was then installed in Kaduna to oversee the North.

Another one was installed in Enugu to Oversee the South. He, Lugard (from Lagos), coordinates the two as the ‘Governor-General’. The two Nigerias must have been easier to handle economically. But what Lugard failed to understand was the fact that they were (and still) complex in structure.

May be or not Lugard knew about this complexity. It was claimed that he personally discouraged the real union of the North and the South by emphasizing more on the differences than the similarities in divisions. This had continuously encouraged the plague as we still witness in the Nigeria politicking of today.In the bid to minimize spending and less use of foreign manpower, Lugard first employed the use of the Indirect rule for the governing of both North and South. The system met stumbling blocs at various levels. Became successful in some parts and a total failure in some other parts.

The Establishment of Indirect Rule.

During Lugard’s first 3 years in the Northern Nigeria before amalgamation, he had learnt that the traditional set up there was strong and very influential. Usman Dan Fodio’s Jihad and the setting of the Sokoto Caliphate had centralised the North already that any foreign set up will fail at inception. The indirect rule made use of the traditional rulers indirectly as they were made accountable to the Colonial boss.

There seem not to be absolute power for the kings in the system. Moreover, the system became very effective in the North and was later exported to the South too

In the next article discussed How the Indirect rule faired in the respective regions in Nigeria. You can also read previous posts under this series by Clicking here.


Ola-lawal M.D.
For Muzzammilwrites,

One thought on “Independence Day Specials (V): Nigeria on the Eve of Amalgamation

pls., i will sincerely appreciated your views about the above excerpt in the comment box below.

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