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Nigeria- The journey to amalgamation- a brief summary.

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A brief textual and pictorial guide to the formation of the modern Nigerian State in 1914. Descriptive images of milestone events and documents in the course of this journey.

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Nigeria- The journey to amalgamation- a brief summary.

  1. 1. NIGERIA- THE JOURNEY TO AMALGAMATION ©ED EMEKA KEAZOR- 2014 Amalgamation Day, Tinubu Square, Lagos. January 1 1914 Image: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Amalgamation ceremony Zungeru- January 3 1914
  2. 2. WHERE DID IT ALL START? The Country and people: The territory now known as Nigeria in pre-colonial times consisted of several ethnic nationalities, Empires, Kingdoms and Republican societies. The earliest known habitation in this territory is dated to the Lower Palaeolithic (early Stone Age period c1-2 Million BC) as evidenced by the Archaeological excavation of Acheulean tools at a site at Ugwuele-Uturu, Okigwe (now in Imo State). Other significant sites being Iwo-Eleru, (Ogun State) dated to c.11,000 BC, where ceramic works were excavated. Early civilisation in the territory is equally evidenced by the 8000 year old Dufuna Canoe, discovered on the banks of the River Yobe and displaying a design that is said to have been the most advanced for its time. Equally, the Nok civilisation, dating back to 500 BC, with its iconic terra-cotta works and language which survives till date. The Igbo-Ukwu finds, spear-headed by Archaeologist-Thurston Shaw, uncovered a civilisation in Eastern Nigeria, dating back to at least 1000 AD, with evidence of some form of trade/interaction with the Asian continent. Also the Sungbo’s Eredo wall formation (surrounding Ijebu-land), showed evidence of a civilisation with immense organisational and technological capabilities for its time. A civilisation also existed amongst the Ekoi people of the South-East, who had a form of writing, known as Nsibidi which exists till date. A succession of great Empires emerged in this territory over time, the most notable being the Jukun in the Middle-Belt (c.600 AD) Kanem-Bornu Empire in the North-East (c.800 AD). The Benin Empire -reputed to have been founded between 40 BC-600 AD by the Ogiso dynasty. The Nri Kingdom (c.1000 AD), the Oyo Empire (c.1300), Katsina etc External Contact and Occupation: The Northern Kingdoms had contact with the Middle-East as far back as the 10th century, with sustained commerce via the Trans-Saharan trade and Islamic evangelism, carrying on for many years. In the South, there is evidence that the Nri Kingdom had external contact with Asia at least in the 10th century. The first contact with Europeans being c.1470, with Portuguese sailors, who visited the Niger Delta, starting a trading and diplomatic relationship with the Benin and Warri Kingdoms. The first Englishman to visit Nigeria being the explorer Thomas Windham, in 1553, who was taken by the Portuguese Sailor- Francisco Pinteador to visit the Oba of Benin- Orhogbua, who impressed him with his ability to speak, read and write Portuguese (he had been educated in a Catholic Mission school) and the advanced administrative/municipal systems evident in the city of Benin at the time. Progressively, other European explorers and adventurers, notably the Dutch, French and German found their way to Nigeria, seeking trade and more, establishing trading outposts- mainly in the Coastal cities of the Delta- such as Old Calabar, Warri, Benin etc The African Association was founded in 1787, to promote exploration of Africa. Sadly, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade started in the 15th century and increased exponentially in the 18th century, till the abolition in 1807, which was enforced progressively from 1833, till the last slave ship left from Brass (now Bayelsa State) in 1854. British presence in Nigeria, largely consisted of trading companies, however a British High Consulate was established in 1849, for the Bights of Benin and Biafra, occupied by John Beecroft. Also, a
  3. 3. Consulate was established in Lagos in 1851, also occupied by Beecroft, after King Kosoko was deposed, for the stated reason of enforcing the abolition of Slavery. In 1861, after a treaty of cession was signed by Oba Dosunmu, Lagos became the first Colony in the territory that became Nigeria, effectively a possession of the Crown. A succession of treaties was to follow with indigenous communities, with the British Crown, which effectively placed them under the protection of the Crown, the one exception being Egba-land, which by a unique treaty, signed in 1893, became an autonomous territory with an independent Government from the British Crown (this was however to change in 1914). Fundamentally Instrumental in spreading British interest in the territories was the Royal Niger Company, which was founded in 1879 as the United African Company (receiving Royal Charter in 1886) by the Briton- George Taubman Goldie, to create a united front of British commercial interests against other European presence in the area. This company received Royal Charter to represent and promote British Commercial interests in the territory- essentially to open doors of commerce. The Royal Niger Company was extremely effective carrying out its brief, with a combination of negotiation and sometimes with the use of force, it entered into several treaties with indigenous
  4. 4. communities, putting them under its control. It was not however without its critics- both in the indigenous population, within Colonial circles in Nigeria and in Whitehall. There were allegations of failure to file proper accounts to the Crown, oppressive conduct against indigenous communities and unfair trade practices generally. In fact, when there was discussion of the RNC spreading its administrative influence to Lagos in 1887, Governor Alfred Moloney of Lagos Colony protested vehemently. The cumulative was that the RNC lost its Charter in 1900, when it was compelled to sell its assets to the Crown, for the value of 865,000 Pounds. By January 1st 1900, there thus came to be three territories created, known as the Southern and Northern Nigeria Protectorates, each administered by a Governor, as well as the Colony of Lagos. Before this administrative structures had progressively been installed by the Colonial Government (and indeed the Royal Niger Company). The first Court in Nigeria- the Court of Equity was established in Bonny in 1853, by traders and receiving Governmental recognition in 1872. The Glover Hausa’s or the Hausa Constabulary was established in Lagos in 1863, by Captain John Glover and later metamorphosed into the Nigerian and Ghanaian Armies, with the establishment of the Royal West African Frontier Force in 1897, headed by one Frederick John Dealtry Lugard. A Railway line was established in 1897, firstly between Lagos and Abeokuta. A Customs and Treasury service was established in Lagos in 1862, likewise Prisons, Postal and Town Planning services. Hospitals were built at Abeokuta, Lagos and Calabar amongst other cities. It is important to mention that one of the greatest agents of growth and development in the early Colonial era were the Church groups- especially the Church Missionary Society (CMS Church). The CMS Church aside from its obvious evangelical objective, was instrumental in the spread of Western education, with the establishment of the first secondary school (The CMS Grammar School) in 1859, the first Medical School, the Abeokuta Institution- in 1861, the first primary school in Northern Nigeria, amongst many others. The CMS Church was also instrumental in funding the training of many of the earliest professionals. The Baptist Church established the first primary school in Nigeria, the Baptist Academy in 1855. It is however important to say a few words at this stage, about the name Nigeria. Whilst the accepted view for many years was that the name was first suggested by Dame Flora Shaw, in a Times of London article in 1897, there is however evidence that the descriptions “Nigeria” and “Nigerian”, were certainly used by traders and explorers as far back as the late 18th century to describe the places and peoples in the surrounding area of the River Niger, from the Niger Delta, all the way up to Guinea. Clear evidence of this being in three publications: “An inquiry into the subject of Suicide”- Charles Moore, published in 1790; “A New Universal History of the Religious Rites, Ceremonies and Customs, of the world” by William Hurd, published in 1814. The 1862 publication- “Life in the Niger”, culled from the 1859 memoirs of William Cole, an English Trader. If one thus considers that Flora Shaw was born in 1852, it is extremely unlikely that she formulated the term Nigeria/Nigerian’s, since she would have been seven years old, when Cole first wrote his memoirs, and she certainly was not born when Moore and Hurd’s works were published. What is however important is that the name was adopted for the territories that. Later
  5. 5. became Nigeria. 1790 Publication- “A full inquiry into the subject of Suicide” by Charles Moore- Inside Front page
  6. 6. 1790 Publication- “A full inquiry into the subject of Suicide” by Charles Moore- showing use of the description- Nigeria p.128
  7. 7. Publication- “A new Universal History of the religions, rites , ceremonies and customs of the whole world by Wiliam Hurd- 1814. The description Nigeria or Nigritia is used.
  8. 8. Publication- “A new Universal History of the religions, rites , ceremonies and customs of the whole world by Wiliam Hurd- 1814. The description Nigeria or Nigritia is used. P.425
  9. 9. 1862 Publication – “Life in the Niger” by William Cole, showing the use of the term “Nigerian”
  10. 10. Gazette copy of Royal Charter granted to the Royal Niger Company in 1886
  11. 11. Original copy of Warrant signed by Queen Victoria, revoking the Royal Niger Company’s Charter – December 1899.
  12. 12. Letter from the Royal Niger Company, further to withdrawal of Royal Charter in Niger Territories
  13. 13. 1900-1914 – Home-stretch to Amalgamation The Northern and Southern Protectorates as said were administered as separate political and geographical entities with clear borders and distinct administrative structures. There were however clear linkages between both territories, in that there strong commercial ties between both territories, with traders from both sides travelling frequently to and fro, buying and selling goods. Further, even in recruitment there was a lot of cross-border migration between both territories, especially with Southern indigenes occupying positions in the Northern Protectorate civil service. These movements being further facilitated by the construction of a Railway network between Lagos progressively linking Lagos and Northern towns between 1910 and 1912. A major development which took place in the aftermath of the acquisition of the RNC territories was the unification of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria with the Colony of Lagos in 1906 The idea of unification of both the Northern and Southern Protectorates territories had first been promoted by William Macgregor, Governor of the Lagos Colony in or around 1902, this being further supported by Frederick Lugard, Governor of Northern Nigeria and Sir Ralph Moor, High Commissioner for Southern Nigeria. The stated reason was that with the construction of a Railway, it was necessary to establish a single Railway policy. However there was evidence of the following: a. A desire by the British Government to establish a large monolithic entity (330,00 Square Miles) to establish its presence in the region, in the pre-existing rivalry with France and Germany; b. The Northern Protectorate in spite of its productive output still required financial assistance from the Colonial Treasury, hence it was felt that with amalgamation with the South, which had surplus revenue from the Palm-Oil trade, both territories would work from one common financial purse, divesting the Treasury of this responsibility. It is important to mention that with the amalgamation, the North increased its productive output by almost 250%, with the exponential growth of the Cotton, Hides and Skin and Groundnut trade- ironically within the war years immediately preceding amalgamation (1914-1918). Frederick Lugard who had established his reputation before this- as Commandant of the Royal West African Frontier Force, also as Commander of the troops that led the Invasion of the Northern Kingdom’s between 1901-1906 and consequently as Governor of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, was selected for the task of operational management of the amalgamation process, putting forward a proposal to the Secretary for the Colonies- Lewis Harcourt, which was accepted. To this end, Lugard was appointed Governor of both the Northern and Southern Protectorates during the transition, to enable him carry out the task effectively. Lugard, whilst with his critics, was nonetheless responsible for managing an extremely complex, delicate process, not restricted to the mammoth political and socio-economic issues inherent, but equally having to contend with the ever-present logistical and administrative burden and bureaucratic politics.
  14. 14. Intense correspondence and negotiations took place between Lugard and Harcourt on almost every question from boundary adjustments, to Taxation policy, and even down to individual appointments to various positions in the new unified civil service. He was however decisive and tenacious, though not all his decisions were necessarily correct- such as the decision to locate the new capital at Zungeru, a location so remote that he almost never worked from there and eventually relocated to the Government House brick by brick to Lokoja (a more central and accessible location). The processes leading up to amalgamation were formalised by a series of formal documents, known as Letters Patent, enacted between 1912 and 1913, by which the following decisions -amongst others- were formalised: a. The formal unification of the geographical entities into one; b. The formal unification of the administrative structures and institutions such as the Civil service, Army, Police, Railways etc c. The appointment instrument of Lugard as Governor-General of the unified territories; d. Enactment of legal instruments for the territory; e. Appointment of key political officers, such as L.C Temple as Lieutenant-Governor of Northern Nigeria and A.G.Boyle as Lieutenant Governor of Southern Nigeria. f. The appointment of Sir Edwin Speed, as the first Chief Justice of Nigeria g. Other ancillary provisions; By November 1913, all the formal processes leading up to the amalgamation had been concluded and all that was left was the formal ceremony, celebrating the event. It was decided that there be two ceremonies- the first being on January 1st 1914, at the Supreme Court building, at Tinubu Square, Lagos Island. This being an impressive, modern building constructed in 1905, to replace the old Court House built in 1865. This was equally a common-sense decision, since the Governor-General Frederick Lugard, was operating at this time from the Government House at the Marina, in Lagos. The second ceremony was to hold at Zungeru, which had been designated Nigeria’s capital (after some negotiation between Lugard and Harcourt, with the town of Baro, being on the alternative list). The ceremony there, was fixed to hold on the 3rd of January 1914. This would require the Governor-General and his entourage to attend the ceremony in Lagos and immediately afterwards head to Iddo, to board a train to Zungeru to perform the second ceremony. The actual ceremony itself proceeded without hitch and a substantial and largely supportive crowd, lined the streets of Lagos Island to cheer the Governors entourage on its route, which moved from the Government House on the Marina, down the Marina itself and through Customs street to the Supreme Court Building, where a tumultuous crowd had gathered around the Tinubu Square.
  15. 15. At the Supreme Court building, 200 ticketed guests were seated awaiting the Governor-General’s entry. These guests largely comprising Executive and Legislative Council members, senior civil servants and a few representatives of the private sector. Upon his arrival, Lugard delivered a speech out-lining the basis of the amalgamation and steps to be taken in furtherance. He equally announced the relevant appointment of the key political and Judicial officers described above. He went on to announce the creation of a Legislative Council (known as the Nigerian Council) as well as the announcement of the extension of the Railway network to the Niger Delta, i.e the creation of the Port Harcourt –Jos, Railway line. A partial text of the speech is detailed below. In Conclusion The Amalgamation was a momentous step in all its ramifications, this singular act had the effect of unifying a huge expanse of territory and people. There have been many opinions voiced about the efficacy of the unit created, however what is undeniable is that it created one of the most populous and economically gifted nations in Africa. Whilst, the social complexities of compressing several hundred ethnic nationalities into one country was always going to have its questions, the benefits of the Commonwealth, in the view of many outweigh the deficiencies….if they can be managed effectively The Amalgamation regardless of all questions, was a fact and that entity created (less the Southern Cameroons) still exists today, a hundred years after. That very fact in itself is worth commemorating. Ed Emeka Keazor- 2014
  16. 16. Proclamation creating Nigeria’s first Parliament, the Nigerian Council, in 1914.
  17. 17. Comission appointing Frederick Lugard -Governor-General of Nigeria
  18. 18. The Old Supreme Court Building, Tinubu Square. Venue of the amalgamation ceremony, January 1 1914.
  19. 19. Flag of the Royal Niger Company Flag of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria Flag of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria
  20. 20. Flag of the Colony of Lagos- 1861 Flag of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria- 1914

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