The Colonial Governance And Administration Of Nigeria

Meaning Of Colonialism

This is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country. Collins English dictionary defined colonialism as the control by one power over a dependent area of people.

Colonialism is the acquisition and colonization by a nation of other territories and citizens. Colonialism is the practice of a stronger power extending its control over weaker ones, including economic exploitation of natural resources; creation of new markets for the colonizing nation’s idea, language and way of life.

Aspects of colonialism include racial and cultural inequality between ruling and subject, political domination, and exploitation of native populations. Colonialism is often criticized as a root of uneven social and economic development worldwide.

Colonialism is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. The European colonial period was the ear from the 1500s to the 1900s when several European powers (particularly but exclusively, Portugal, Spain, Britain, the Netherlands and France) established colonies in Asia, Africa and the America. At first the countries followed mercantilist policies designed to strengthen the home economy at the expense of rivals, so the colonies were usually allowed to trade only with the mother country. However, by the mid-19th century, the powerful British Empire gave up mercantilism and trade restrictions and introduced the principle of free trade, with few tarrifs.

According to Heywood (In 2002) colonialism is the “theory or practice of establishing control over a foreign territory”. It implies economic and direct political control of one country by another. In fact the colonization process involves cultural, political, psychological, and economic relations between the colonizing powers and the colonized peoples. These relationships are often times designed by the colonial powers in a manner that would promote mainly the economic interests of the colonizers. The colonial enterprise is simply a form of imperialism which entails settlement and direct political control of overseas territories by the colonizers with the sole aim of exploiting them economically to their own advantage.

Colonialism And The Evolution Of Contemporary Nigeria

European interest in West Africa began as far as the fifteenth Century, when Prince Henry ‘The Navigator’ of Portugal Sponsored Voyages of exploitation to West Africa. At this time, and for a long time after, Europe was very ignorant about Africa, her knowledge of the continent was essentially restricted to tales and imaginary animals, mountains and forests, resulted to tales and imagery animals, mountains and forests, resulted eventually in the abominable slave trade, by and large Africa remained to Europe a “Dark Continent”.

The ignorance was such that until 1830, it was not known by Europeans that the rivers which flowed into the Bight of Biafra together formed the mouth of the Niger (Fajana and Anjorin, 1979).

The Berlin Conference

The Conference met in December 1884 and was attended by all European powers and the United States. It is remarkable that no African country was represented on a conference in which the fate of the continent was decided. The Berlin West African conference, as it was later known, was a memorably an absurd gathering, because it achieved nothing but to proclaim a situation that was quite obvious by giving recognition to the fact that certain powers had imperial ambitions in Africa.

Nevertheless, the Berlin West African conference had some achievements for Europe. It established the fact that the occupation of Africa, despite all rivalries, had to be a cooperating effort of European powers. It made sure that Europeans did not come to an open conflict.

The resulting partition became the basis of the present day political units, which have remained practically unchanged in West Africa even after independence.

Apart from France and Britain other European countries that scrambled and partitioned the African continent include Holland, Spain, Portugal and Germany.

Colonial Administration

Lord Fredrick Lugard was motivated to introduce indirect rule in Nigeria between 1903 and 1906 because of the success and the experience he had operating the policy when he was in Tanganyika in 1900, the British government revoked the charter given to the Royal Niger Company to administer over territories in Nigeria.

In 1861, the British government annexed the colony of Lagos and made it a crown colony in 1862. In 1900 Lord Lugard became the Governor of Northern Nigeria. In 1906 the Colony of Lagos and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria were merged under a single administrative system.

The Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria were finally amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Lugard who finally became the first Governor General of the country. The colonial administration in Nigeria was based on the system of indirect rule.

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