Independence Month: A Historical Journey To Nigeria

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Compatriots, here is the concluding part of my re-production of Peter De Iongh’s article:

NIGERIA – Two Imperialists and their creation (“The largest of African republics possesses an ancient and composite civilisation, but the form that the country takes today owes much to two British colonial administrators”)

By Peter De Iongh, History Today, December 1964, pp 835 – 843

 

The following years belong to Lugard. Goldie left on a tour of the Far East, with a jaunty reference to “my first holiday for twenty-three years”. He never sought further Government employment, nor did he ever visit Nigeria again. Meanwhile, Lugard built a capital at Zungeru, later abandoned for Kaduna. He strode across the dusty North, subduing the hostile Emirs and finally, the Sultan of Sokoto. Everywhere the indigenous Hausa welcomed him or greeted his arrival with acquiescence, testifying to the decadence of their Fulani rulers. He discovered the prevalence of slave-raiding – “can you stop a cat from mousing? I will die with a slave in my mouth,” declared the defiant Emir of Kontangora. He found the unventilated prison of Kano where 200 men were confined in an area 120 feet square; heard of mutilations and ingenious tortures. He deposed irreconcilable Emirs, appointed successors, left behind him a Resident, and moved on. Trade began to flourish and deserted farms to bear crops. When he left for Hong Kong in 1906, slave-raiding had disappeared from the North, and by his promise to respect religion and maintain cooperative Emirs in power he had won for himself the steady loyalty of those he had so recently conquered in war.

 

For three years after Goldie met Lugard, there had ben a steady development of friendship. “I am all for Goldie,” Lugard had declared in the early days. By 1901 Goldie was writing to Lugard, “I have few friends (you among the chief), and I want no more.” But two years later occurred a sudden and dramatic rupture between them. Lugard, on leave, was to address the Royal geographical Society on the subject of Northern Nigeria. Goldie saw a draft of his address and wrote a rather stilted note, objecting to certain references to the Company, of which Lugard had in the course of time become rather critical. Lugard took offence and, though he withdrew the offending passage, never spoke to Goldie again. It was sad, but perhaps inevitable, that this break had to occur. They had very much in common: intense energy and appetite for work, administrative talent, ability to command loyalty from able subordinates and an imperial vision. But the disparity of their characters is evident from the whole story so far: Goldie wore his idealism lightly, while it was in the marrow of Lugard’s bones.

 

Two contradictory excerpts from his rare addresses contain the germ of Goldie’s thought. “it is not a simple matter,” he told the London Chamber of Commerce in 1897, “to found civilized government in the vast inland regions of equatorial Africa where commerce and therefore revenue is undeveloped.” In 1911 he told the African Society that he had formed the Company with the express intention of reversing the decision of 1865, for “in uncivilized countries, there can be no permanence of commerce without political power.” Commerce and power were his motives. It was very well for him to justify the Nupe expedition by arguing that “the death of each Fulah killed at Bida secured the lives and liberty of scores of peaceful and defenceless natives,” but these calculations did not enter into his plans for the campaign. Lugard was different. “Trade will, I hope, follow the flag,” he told the Royal Geographical Society almost apologetically in 1903. In “The Dual Mandate” he saw the imperial task as a development of the “waste and ungarnered products of Africa” in the interests of both the producers and “the hungry people of Europe.” He was already a committed opponent of slave-raiding, though in Northern Nigeria his approach to the issue of slavery was gradual. And his faith in the native people is not echoed in any of Goldie’s words. “I believe myself,” he reported to the Colonial Office in 1902, “that the future of the virile races of this Protectorate lies largely in the regeneration of the Fulani…..to regulate this capable race and mould them to ideas of justice and mercy.”

  Divergent aims but similar methods. The Nupe settlement of 1897 illustrates Company dealings with local rulers. The hostile Emir was deposed. His rival, promoted, acknowledged the Company’s supremacy over the whole of Nupe, but conceded direct government only over the river banks. He would “conform to such directions in respect of his government as the Representative of the Company may give him from tome to time.” This meant political sway at minimum cost. Lugard used this idea. His report of 1902 emphasised that: “the Fulani hold their suzerainty by right of recent conquest……and I can myself see no injustice in the transfer of the suzerainty thus acquired to the British government.” A cooperative Emir retained most of his power. The extent to which Lugard’s representatives, deliberately called Residents not Commissioners, took part in administration was to be determined by “the influence and ability of the Native Chiefs of the Province.” The pomp and ceremony of Fulani rule remained. Certain structural changes at a lower level had to be made to allow for the addition of another storey. Law courts had to be partly integrated with the British system, though many Emirs kept even the power of capital punishment. The inefficient tax system needed strengthening; the Land Revenue Ordinance of 1904 exacted one quarter of the revenue of each Emirate for Government and initiated an assessment and enquiry into the means of collection by political officers. Finally the Lump Sum system, in which the collection of a specified sum was left to the District Heads, was adopted. Revenue rose from £4,000 in 1901 to £250,000 in 1910. The issue of slavery had to be decided. Raiding and trading soon vanished; the Slavery Proclamation of 1901 ended the legal status of slavery, permitting those desiring freedom to claim it. Many chose to remain in bondage. In whatever problem, Lugard’s approach was the same: “I hold strongly that the hasty introduction of revolutionary ‘improvements’ is to be deprecated.”

 

The Times Correspondent who travelled these regions in 1910-11 emphasised the geographical unity of the two Protectorates, criticizing the divergence of systems, the disparity of public expenditure, and the absurd conditions of service of the Northern administrative officers. Expenditure in the South in 1910-11 was £1,000,000, that in the more populous North less than half, of which £148,000 was for the military establishment. Officials lived in mud huts on meagre salaries; the Resident in Kano, responsible for a population of 2 ½  million in an area equal in size to Scotland and Wales combined, was drawing £470 a year, one-sixth of the salary of the Governor of Barbados. While the South flourished, the North was an annual charge on the Treasury of at least a quarter of a million pounds. The northern railway system was being built without reference to existing developments in the South. “The present dual system of administration,” observed the writer of the long series of articles, “with its artificial boundaries, its differing methods and inevitable rivalries has served its turn and should be brought to an end as soon as possible.” Whether Lugard had much to do with the decision is unlikely, In April 1911 Sir John Anderson wrote from the Colonial Office to him in Hong Kong, “we are anxious to amalgamate the Nigerian Administration…..but our difficulty is to find the right man for the job. We are agreed that you are the man if only you will take it for sufficient time….to give it a good start.” The tone does not suggest that Lugard was privy to the scheme. But he recognized that it was “about the biggest job in the whole British Empire and one of the most difficult,” and so accepted.

 

The Times correspondent. Lugard naturally shared his preference. He meant to give the two halves uniform administration based on indirect rule; but they were to meet only in the person of the Governor-General. Indirect rule, with its corollary of direct taxation, had worked and was working well in the North; but the task of introducing it in the South was not completed when Lugard left Nigeria in 1919. To be successful it needed an able, alien, autocratic and unpopular ruling class, like the Fulani. But the Ibo and Ibibios to the east of the delta, still unsubdued, had nothing like this. Their intricate social and political structure presented to the European eye a picture of primitive confusion. The Yorubas to the west had kings, but indigenous and under strict customary tutelage. Here the tentative advance of British power had encouraged haphazard and nebulous relationships. One city-state, Abeokuta, was independent; another, Ibadan, still taxed English merchandise. In the North, indirect rule was firmly based on conquest; here we have treaties, arrangements, understanding, and misunderstandings. And nowhere in the South had direct taxation ever been imposed. Lugard suffered continually from pin-pricks of the “educated Natives” of Lagos – itself a Yoruba city – unique in that its citizens were British subjects, their leaders often educated in England. They had little sympathy or understanding for the natives of the interior, but had enough education to consider themselves the heirs of the kingdom and to be unremittingly vocal about it. To them Lugard was the “Napoleon of the Nigeria” or “a man whose walking stick is a pistol, whose thoughts by day and dreams by night are of punitive expeditions and military patrols. Stirring tales were told of his negro-phobia, his anti-black proclivities,…..” Lugard found it hard to come to terms with such “loud and arrogant conceit…..lack of natural dignity and courtesy.”

 

Through four years of war. Lugard laboured under these and many more handicaps: a staff cut to the bone by the expedition to the Cameroons and losses at sea and demoralized by overwork and no leave; the disruption of trade; quibbles from the Colonial Office; Nigeria’s relegation to a mere walk-on part in the imperial drama. Yet by 1919 Sir Hugh Clifford was able to inherit a structure incomplete but sturdy. North and South were separate, under Lieutenant-Governors. Lagos alone had any form of legislative council. The Governor-General, working through a small secretariat, controlled policy and a few services like the treasury, railways, and postal services. He announced his decisions through the Nigerian Council, on which six nominated Africans sat. The South was divided into nine Provinces on the northern model, each under a Resident, and among the Yorubas indirect rule was taking shape. The Supreme Court was strictly limited in function, the bulk of litigation being brought before Residents in the Provincial Courts or before the Native Courts loosely supervised by District Officers. Direct taxation had been partially introduced, though it had provoked serous disturbances in Abeokuta. The customs revenue (£1 million in 1912) had become a central asset, to be applied to North or South at discretion. The railway, crossing the Niger by bridge at Jebba, now joined Lagos to Kano; the new Port Harcourt had been linked by rail with the coal mines at Udi; ships of 27 foot draft could now come alongside at Apapa, opposite Lagos. Nigeria’s trade, and the North’s share of it, both increased substantially despite the war. Much remained to do, many changes to be made; but Nigeria was a recognizable state, and Lugard had made it so.

The Dual Mandate, he developed his colonial philosophy to the full. For thirteen years he served on the League of Nations Mandates Commission, whose delicate task it was to keep an eye on administration of Germany’s old colonies by the victorious power, earning an international reputation for impartial statesmanship.

 

Meanwhile what had happened o Goldie, who had sketched the outline Lugard had so assiduously filled in?  After his Far Eastern travels, he had contemplated sundry employments, undertaking one or two overseas jobs, the last of which was service on the Royal Commission for the disposal of South African War stores in 1905. For the rest of his life, he travelled, enjoying his fortunes and a few political skirmishes in the London County Council, whose Finance Committee he joined. He died in 1925 at the age of seventy-nine. Lugard, who accepted a baronetcy in 1928, lived till 1945.

 

The country they created survived to this day; but the increasing contacts between North and South that independence has brought have not always been happy, and tribal, religious and cultural intolerance still bedevils the body politic.

 

Peter De Iongh, History Today, Volume XIV. Number 12. December 1964 (Edited by Peter Quinnell and Alan Hodge) Published from Bracken House, 10 Cannon Street, London E.C. 4 City 8000

 

There we have it, compatriots. I do hope you have enjoyed this historical reproduction. As said in Part 1 of this article, I have acquired a sizeable collection of book, articles, magazines on Nigerian history, amongst which are the following:

 

“Nigeria – The Makings of A Nation”,  published by the Central Office of Information, London, June 1960.

 

“Among The Ibos of Nigeria” by G T Basden. First published 1921.

 

“The Diaries of Lord Lugard” Vol. 4, edited by Margery Perham and Mary Bull.

 

“The Administration of Nigeria, 1900 – 1960 – Men, Methods and Myths” by I F Nicholson.

 

“The Story of Nigeria” by Michael Crowder.

 

“Nigeria’s Five Majors” by Ben Gbulie.

 

“The Romance of The Black River” – F Deaville Walker, 1930.(original book)

 

“Barth’s Travels In Nigeria (1850-1855)” by A H M Kirk-Greene, published 1962.

 

“Revolt in Bussa – A study of British Native Administration in Nigerian Borgu, 1902 – 1935” by Michael Crowder.

 

“Nigeria – The Trade and Customs Laws and Regulations” Printed by The Government Printer, Lagos, 1919.

 

“Seventeen Years In The Yoruba Country (Memorials of Anna Hinderer – 1870)” 4th Edition, Published in 1877. (original book)

 

“The Queens Tour of Nigeria, 1956” A Pictorial Magazine.

 

“Nigerian Rituals (As taught in Emulation Lodge of Improvement)” compiled by Brother C M Browne, MC., OBE, Dep. District Grandmaster Nigeria, PGD, with authority of the District Grand Lodge of Nigeria. Printed in 1952.

 

“Lugard and Colonial Nigeria – Towards an Identity?” by Michael Crowder, published in History Today, Vol. 36, February 1986.

 

“Equiano’s Travels (The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustav Vassa, The African, written by Himself, Vol. 1)” Published in 1789. (Original book)

 

And of course the works and novels of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Rev Samuel Johnson, etc

 

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4 Responses to “Independence Month: A Historical Journey To Nigeria”

  1. Pete says:

    I thank you for two very informative articles Akintokunbo.

    I worked for 12 years in Nigeria and wish I could have read them before I ever went there.

    If you have the time I am sure we would all love to read more from your collection.

  2. I would like to show my respect for your kind-heartedness giving support to individuals that require help on this particular subject matter. Your personal dedication to passing the solution throughout has been incredibly valuable and have continually allowed guys just like me to attain their objectives. Your own useful advice indicates a great deal to me and even further to my peers. Best wishes; from each one of us.

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