It is difficult to overestimate the importance of amalgamation of Nigeria. 1914 has become a birth year of a new country. Nigeria amalgamation is without exaggeration one of the most important moments in the history of the country. Let's figure out amalgamated the protectorates, how and why.
Nigeria amalgamation history
The unification of Nigeria was a very ambiguous process. There were many supporters and opponents of the unification. How did it all start?
We should start our narrative from the story of the most influential one of all the Colonial Governor Generals, Lord Frederick Lugard. He played a fundamental role in the history of colonial Nigeria. He was aimed to unite two parts of the country. So, let's look at one of the most epic events in Nigerian history.
Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by Lord Lugard made him very significant person in the history of Nigeria. But how did it happen?
Lord Lugard arrived in Northern Nigeria in 1895, he participated in military campaigns. His military campaign in the northern part of Nigeria was famous by a march to Borgu. All these events have become the basis for Britain's claim to Northern Nigeria. The claim was the result of Lugard's successful military campaign of 1900.
Lord Lugard got the post of first British High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria. He received this post after British protectorate was established instead of Royal Niger Company.
At those times England had no clear plans for the future of the new colony. There was no huge enthusiasm among British politicians on the acquisition of new territories. British colonial office was interested in minimum costs for administering of such vast territory.
Importance of amalgamation
Nigeria at these times was in the form of two units South and North Nigeria. Lord Lugard was the first British governor-general in colonial in Nigeria in 1912. Between 1900 -12 there were two different areas, different forms of government and radically different administrative styles.
But Lugard changed this situation. The reason for amalgamation was mainly financial. There was a need to balance the financing of Southern and Northern Nigeria.
But there were no serious actions to bring North and South Nigeria under one administration. It is hard to say that Lugard was struggling for a single political entity of Nigeria. In 1919 Hugh Clifford, the Lugard's successor claimed that the coordination of the country should be directed from a single center. British colonial policy had its own characteristics.
The first consequences of the unification:
- Protectorates and The Colony fell under one administration. One government was able to consolidate the contentious railway policy of the country;
- New established provinces was under the leadership of the Governors;
- Lagos became an administrative center and the capital of the country until 1991.
Actually, as for 1914, we can say that such union was needed. It was a time when Nigeria required a policy that could create understanding between different parts of the country. Some historians believe that Lugard set the motion for Nigeria’s independence.
Nigeria after the amalgamation
In the years that followed, there were many opponents of the uniting. The federal government celebrated the amalgamation. But it was opposed by the educated elite of Lagos at these times. On the north part of the country, powerful emirates were against the unification, it was unacceptable for them to lose their power because of centralized administration. Also, the south part cautiously reacted to the unification.
In 1923 Governor General Sir Arthur Richards, stated that his primary aim was to develop the unity of Nigeria. But at that time there was still a strong trend of regionalization in Nigeria.
Richards established a new constitution for the country. And the constitution described Northern and South Nigeria as two quite separate parts of the country.
Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1940's claimed that Nigeria was just as a geographical term, rather than a united country. Sir Ahmadu Bello even said that the amalgamation was the mistake of 1914.
The amalgamation established modern Nigeria, it was a reason for many ethnic groups and tribes to unite in a single political entity. In fact, the word "amalgamation" was used by British colonialists only in the case of Nigeria.
Of course, the amalgamation is a huge historic event, highly important for the country. If you ask when was Nigeria formed? We can certainly say that the history of the country goes back to prehistoric times. But such year as 1914 has become a start for Nigeria as one entity. This event was the forerunner of the next grand event of 1960 when Nigeria gained independence.