Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria (1914 - 1960)

Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria Flag
Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria refers to the area of West Africa, which became the modern day Nigeria, during the time British rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

British influence began with prohibition of slave trade to British subjects in 1807. The resulting collapse of African slave trade led to the decline and eventual collapse of the Edo Empire. Britain annexed Lagos in 1861 and established the Oil River Protectorate in 1884. 

British influence in the Niger area increased gradually over the 19th century, but Britain did not effectively occupy the area until 1885. Other European powers acknowledged Britain's power over the area in the 1885 Berlin Conference.

From 1886–1899, much of the country was ruled by Royal Niger Company, authorized by charter, and governed by George Taubman Goldie. In 1900, the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate passed from company hands to the Crown. At the urging of governor Frederick Lugard, the two territories were amalgamated as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, while maintaining considerable regional autonomy among the three major regions. Progressive constitutions after World War II provided for increasing representation and electoral government by Nigerians. The colonial period proper in Nigeria lasted from 1900 to 1960, after which Nigeria gained its independence.

Through a progressive sequence of regimes, the British imposed autocratic rule on the area of West Africa which came to be known as Nigeria. Administration and military control of the territory was done primarily by white Britishers, both in London and in Nigeria.

Following military conquest, the British imposed an economic system designed to profit from African labour. The essential basis of this system was money—specifically, British money—which could be demanded through taxation, paid to cooperative natives, and levied as a fine.

The amalgamation of different ethnic and religious groups into one federation created internal tension which persists in Nigeria to the present day.

Colonial administration
In 1900, the British government assumed control of the Southern and Northern Protectorates, both of which were ultimately governed by the Colonial Office at Whitehall. The staff of this office came primarily from the British upper middle class—i.e., university-educated men, primarily not nobility, with fathers in well-respected professions. The first five heads of the Nigeria Department (1898–1914) were Reginald Antrobus, William Mercer, William Baillie Hamilton, Sydney Olivier, and Charles Strachey. Olivier was a member of the Fabian Society and a friend of George Bernard Shaw.

Under the Colonial Office was the Governor, who managed administration of his colony and held powers of emergency rule. The Colonial Office could veto or revise his policies. The seven men who governed Northern Nigeria, Southern Nigeria, and Lagos through 1914 were Henry McCallum, William MacGregor, Walter Egerton, Ralph Moor, Percy Girouard, Hesketh Bell, and Frederick Lugard. Most of these came from military backgrounds. All were knighted.

Walter Egerton's sixfold agenda for 1908, as detailed on November 29, 1907, in a telegram to the Colonial Office, is representative of British priorities.
  1. To pacify the country; 
  2. To established settled government in the newly won districts; 
  3. To improve and extend native footpaths throughout the country; 
  4. To construct properly graded roads in the more populated districts; 
  5. To clear the numerous rivers in the country and make them suitable for launch and canoe traffic; and 
  6. To extend the railways. 
Egerton also supervised improvements to the Lagos harbour and extension of the local telegraph network.

From 1895–1900, a railway was constructed running from Lagos to Ibadan; it opened in March 1901. This line was extended to Oshogbo, 62 miles away, in 1905–1907, and to Zungeru and Minna in 1908–1911. Its final leg enabled it to meet another line, constructed 1907–1911, running from Baro, through Minnia, to Kano.

Some of these public work projects were accomplished with the help of forced labour, referred to as "Political Labour". Village Heads were paid 10 shillings for conscripts, and fined £50 if they failed to supply. Individuals could be fined or jailed for refusing to comply.

Amalgamation of Nigeria was envisioned from early on in its governance, as is made clear by the report of the Niger Committee in 1898. Combining the three jurisdictions would reduce administrative expenses and facilitate deployment of resources and money between the areas. (Specifically it would enable direct subsidy of the less profitable Northern jurisdiction.) Antrobus, Fiddes, and Strachey in the Colonial Office promoted amalgamation, along with Lugard.

Following the order recommended by the Niger Committee, the Colonial Office merged Lagos Colony and the Southern Nigeria Protectorate on May 1, 1906, forming a larger protectorate (still called the Southern Nigeria Protectorate) which spanned the coastline between Dahomey and Cameroon.

Lugard advocated constantly for unification of the whole territory, and in August 1911 the Colonial Office asked Lugard to lead the amalgamated colony.

In 1912, Lugard returned to Nigeria from his six-year term as Governor of Hong Kong, to oversee the merger of the northern and southern protectorates. On May 9, 1913, Lugard submitted a formal proposal to the Colonial Office in which Northern and Southern provinces would have separate administrations, under the control of a "strongly authoritarian" Governor-General. The Colonial Office approved most of Lugard's plan, but balked at authorizing him to pass laws without their approval. John Anderson diplomatically suggested:

The task of unification was achieved on the eve of World War I. From January 1914 onwards, the newly united colony and protectorate was presided over by a proconsul, who was entitled the Governor-General of Nigeria. The militias and RWAFF battalions were reorganized into the RWAFF Nigeria Regiment.

During World War II, three battalions of the Nigeria Regiment fought in the Ethiopian campaign. Nigerian units also contributed to two divisions serving with British forces in Palestine, Morocco, Sicily, and Burma, where they won many honors. Wartime experiences provided a new frame of reference for many soldiers, who interacted across ethnic boundaries in ways that were unusual in Nigeria. The war also made the British reappraise Nigeria's political future. The war years, brought a polarization between the older, more parochial leaders inclined toward gradualism and the younger intellectuals, who thought in more immediate terms.

Political Forces
The rapid growth of organized labour in the 1940s also brought new political forces into play. During the war, union membership increased sixfold to 30,000. The proliferation of labor organizations fragmented the movement, and potential leaders lacked the experience and skill to draw workers together.

The Action Group was largely the creation of Awolowo, general secretary of Egbe Omo Oduduwa and leader of the Nigerian Produce Traders' Association. The Action Group was thus the heir of a generation of flourishing cultural consciousness among the Yoruba and also had valuable connections with commercial interests that were representative of the comparative economic advancement of the Western Region. Awolowo had little difficulty in appealing to broad segments of the Yoruba population, but he worked to avoid the Action Group from being stigmatized as a "tribal" group. Despite his somewhat successful efforts to enlist non-Yoruba support, the regionalist sentiment that had stimulated the party initially continued.

Segments of the Yoruba community had their own animosities and new rivalries arose. For example, many people in Ibadan opposed Awolowo on personal grounds because of his identification with the Ijebu Yoruba. Despite these difficulties, the Action Group rapidly built an effective organization. Its program reflected greater planning and was more ideologically oriented than that of the NCNC. Although lacking Azikiwe's compelling personality, Awolowo was a formidable debater as well as a vigorous and tenacious political campaigner. He used for the first time in Nigeria modern, sometimes flamboyant, electioneering techniques. Among his leading lieutenants were Samuel Akintola of Ibadan and the Oni of Ife.

The Action Group consistently supported minority-group demands for autonomous states within a federal structure, as well as the severance of a midwest state from the Western Region. It assumed that comparable alterations would be made elsewhere, an attitude that won the party minority voting support in the other regions. It backed Yoruba irredentism in the Fulani-ruled emirate of Ilorin in the Northern Region, and separatist movements among non-Igbo in the Eastern Region.

The Northern People's Congress (NPC) was organized in the late 1940s by a small group of Western-educated Northern Nigerians. They had obtained the assent of the emirs to form a political party to counterbalance the activities of the southern-based parties. It represented a substantial element of reformism in the North. The most powerful figure in the party was Ahmadu Bello, the sardauna (war leader) of Sokoto.

Bello wanted to protect northern social and political institutions from southern influence. He insisted on maintaining the territorial integrity of the Northern Region. He was prepared to introduce educational and economic changes to strengthen the north. Although his own ambitions were limited to the Northern Region, Bello backed the NPC's successful efforts to mobilize the north's large voting strength so as to win control of the national government.

The NPC platform emphasized the integrity of the north, its traditions, religion, and social order. Support for broad Nigerian concerns occupied a clear second place. A lack of interest in extending the NPC beyond the Northern Region corresponded to this strictly regional orientation. Its activist membership was drawn from local government and emirate officials who had access to means of communication and to repressive traditional authority that could keep the opposition in line.

The small contingent of northerners who had been educated abroad—a group that included Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Aminu Kano—was allied with British-backed efforts to introduce gradual change to the emirates. The emirs gave support to limited modernization largely from fears of the unsettling presence of southerners in the north, and by observing the improvements in living conditions in the South. Northern leaders committed to modernization were also firmly connected to the traditional power structure. Most internal problems were concealed, and open opposition to the domination of the Muslim aristocracy was not tolerated. Critics, including representatives of the middle belt who resented Muslim domination, were relegated to small, peripheral parties or to inconsequential separatist movements.

In 1950 Aminu Kano, who had been instrumental in founding the NPC, broke away to form the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), in protest against the NPC's limited objectives and what he regarded as a vain hope that traditional rulers would accept modernization. NEPU formed a parliamentary alliance with the NCNC.

The NPC continued to represent the interests of the traditional order in the pre-independence deliberations. After the defection of Kano, the only significant disagreement within the NPC was related to moderates. Men such as Balewa believed that only by overcoming political and economic backwardness could the NPC protect the foundations of traditional northern authority against the influence of the more advanced south.

In all three regions, minority parties represented the special interests of ethnic groups, especially as they were affected by the majority. They never were able to elect sizeable legislative delegations, but they served as a means of public expression for minority concerns. They received attention from major parties before elections, at which time either a dominant party from another region or the opposition party in their region sought their alliance.

The political parties jockeyed for positions of power in anticipation of the independence of Nigeria. Three constitutions were enacted from 1946 to 1954. While each generated considerable political controversy, they moved the country toward greater internal autonomy, with an increasing role for the political parties. The trend was toward the establishment of a parliamentary system of government, with regional assemblies and a federal House of Representatives.

In 1946 a new constitution was approved by the British Parliament at Westminster and promulgated in Nigeria. Although it reserved effective power in the hands of the Governor-General and his appointed Executive Council, the so-called Richards Constitution (after Governor-General Sir Arthur Richards, who was responsible for its formulation) provided for an expanded Legislative Council empowered to deliberate on matters affecting the whole country. Separate legislative bodies, the houses of assembly, were established in each of the three regions to consider local questions and to advise the lieutenant governors. The introduction of the federal principle, with deliberative authority devolved on the regions, signaled recognition of the country's diversity. Although realistic in its assessment of the situation in Nigeria, the Richards Constitution undoubtedly intensified regionalism as an alternative to political unification.

The pace of constitutional change accelerated after the promulgation of the Richards Constitution. It was suspended in 1950 against a call for greater autonomy, which resulted in an inter-parliamentary conference at Ibadan in 1950. The conference drafted the terms of a new constitution. The so-called Macpherson Constitution, after the incumbent Governor-General, went into effect the following year.

The most important innovations in the new charter reinforced the dual course of constitutional evolution, allowing for both regional autonomy and federal union. By extending the elective principle and by providing for a central government with a Council of Ministers, the Macpherson Constitution gave renewed impetus to party activity and to political participation at the national level. But by providing for comparable regional governments exercising broad legislative powers, which could not be overridden by the newly established 185-seat federal House of Representatives, the Macpherson Constitution also gave a significant boost to regionalism. Subsequent revisions contained in the Lyttleton Constitution, enacted in 1954, firmly established the federal principle and paved the way for independence.

Self governing regions (1957)
In 1957 the Western and the Eastern regions became formally self-governing under the parliamentary system. Similar status was acquired by the Northern Region two years later. There were numerous differences of detail among the regional systems, but all adhered to parliamentary forms and were equally autonomous in relation to the federal government at Lagos. The federal government retained specified powers, including responsibility for banking, currency, external affairs, defense, shipping and navigation, and communications, but real political power was centered in the regions. Significantly, the regional governments controlled public expenditures derived from revenues raised within each region.

Ethnic cleavages intensified in the 1950s. Political activists in the southern areas spoke of self-government in terms of educational opportunities and economic development. Because of the spread of mission schools and wealth derived from export crops, the southern parties were committed to policies that would benefit the south of the country. In the north, the emirs intended to maintain firm control on economic and political change.

Any activity in the north that might include participation by the federal government (and consequently by southern civil servants) was regarded as a challenge to the primacy of the emirates. Broadening political participation and expanding educational opportunities and other social services also were viewed as threats to the status quo. An extensive immigrant population of southerners, especially Igbo, already were living in the north; they dominated clerical positions and were active in many trades.

The cleavage between the Yoruba and the Igbo was accentuated by their competition for control of the political machinery. The receding British presence enabled local officials and politicians to gain access to patronage over government jobs, funds for local development, market permits, trade licenses, government contracts, and even scholarships for higher education. In an economy with many qualified applicants for every post, great resentment was generated by any favoritism that authorities showed to members of their own ethnic group.

In the immediate post-World War II period, Nigeria benefited from a favourable trade balance. Although per capita income in the country as a whole remained low by international standards, rising incomes among salaried personnel and burgeoning urbanization expanded consumer demand for imported goods.

In the meantime, public sector spending increased even more dramatically than export earnings. It was supported not only by the income from huge agricultural surpluses but also by a new range of direct and indirect taxes imposed during the 1950s. The transfer of responsibility for budgetary management from the central to the regional governments in 1954 accelerated the pace of public spending on services and on development projects. Total revenues of central and regional governments nearly doubled in relation to the gross domestic product (GDP—see Glossary) during the decade.

The most dramatic event having a long-term effect on Nigeria's economic development, was the discovery and exploitation of petroleum deposits. The search for oil, begun in 1908 and abandoned a few years later, was revived in 1937 by Shell and British Petroleum. Exploration was intensified in 1946, but the first commercial discovery did not occur until 1956, at Olobiri in the Niger Delta. In 1958 exportation of Nigerian oil was initiated at facilities constructed at Port Harcourt. Oil income was still marginal, but the prospects for continued economic expansion appeared bright and accentuated political rivalries on the eve of independence.

The election of the House of Representatives after the adoption of the 1954 constitution gave the NPC a total of seventy-nine seats, all from the Northern Region. Among the other major parties, the NCNC took fifty-six seats, winning a majority in both the Eastern and the Western regions, while the Action Group captured only twenty-seven seats. The NPC was called on to form a government, but the NCNC received six of the ten ministerial posts. Three of these posts were assigned to representatives from each region, and one was reserved for a delegate from the Northern Cameroons.

As a further step toward independence, the governor's Executive Council was merged with the Council of Ministers in 1957 to form the all-Nigerian Federal Executive Council. The NPC federal parliamentary leader, Balewa, was appointed prime minister. Balewa formed a coalition government that included the Action Group as well as the NCNC to prepare the country for the final British withdrawal. His government guided the country for the next three years, operating with almost complete autonomy in internal affairs.

Constitutional conferences in the UK (1957-1958)
The preparation of a new federal constitution for an independent Nigeria was carried out at conferences held at Lancaster House in London in 1957 and 1958, which were presided over by The Rt. Hon. Alan Lennox-Boyd, M.P., the British Secretary of State for the Colonies. Nigerian delegates were selected to represent each region and to reflect various shades of opinion. The delegation was led by Balewa of the NPC and included party leaders Awolowo of the Action Group, Azikiwe of the NCNC, and Bello of the NPC; they were also the premiers of the Western, Eastern, and Northern regions, respectively. Independence was achieved on October 1, 1960.

Elections were held for a new and greatly enlarged House of Representatives in December 1959; 174 of the 312 seats were allocated to the Northern Region on the basis of its larger population. The NPC, entering candidates only in the Northern Region, confined campaigning largely to local issues but opposed the addition of new regimes. The NCNC backed creation of a midwest state and proposed federal control of education and health services.

The Action Group, which staged a lively campaign, favored stronger government and the establishment of three new states, while advocating creation of a West Africa Federation that would unite Nigeria with Ghana and Sierra Leone. The NPC captured 142 seats in the new legislature. Balewa was called on to head a NPC-NCNC coalition government, and Awolowo became official leader of the opposition.

Independent Nigeria (1960)
By a British Act of Parliament, Nigeria became an independent country (as a Commonwealth realm) within the Commonwealth on October 1, 1960. Azikiwe was installed as Governor-General of the federation and Balewa continued to serve as head of a democratically elected parliamentary, but now completely sovereign, government. The Governor-General represented the British monarch as head of state and was appointed by the Crown on the advice of the Nigerian Prime Minister in consultation with the regional premiers. The Governor-General, in turn, was responsible for appointing the Prime Minister and for choosing a candidate from among contending leaders when there was no parliamentary majority. Otherwise, the Governor-General's office was essentially ceremonial.

The government was responsible to a Parliament composed of the popularly elected 312-member House of Representatives and the 44-member Senate, chosen by the regional legislatures.

In general, the regional constitutions followed the federal model, both structurally and functionally. The most striking departure was in the Northern Region, where special provisions brought the regional constitution into consonance with Islamic law and custom. The similarity between the federal and regional constitutions was deceptive, however, and the conduct of public affairs reflected wide differences among the regions.

In February 1961, a plebiscite was conducted to determine the disposition of the Southern Cameroons and Northern Cameroons, which were administered by Britain as United Nations Trust Territories. By an overwhelming majority, voters in the Southern Cameroons opted to join formerly French-administered Cameroon over integration with Nigeria as a separate federated region. In the Northern Cameroons, however, the largely Muslim electorate chose to merge with Nigeria's Northern Region

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