Before the marriage….

In light of the recent happenings in our country, I thought it essential to bring certain things to our attention and who better to do that than the economist in the family, my younger sister. I pay more attention to her on economic matters than I do to the Iwealas and the Soludos. Read this 3 part post to find out why….

Every day we hear comments like “Nigeria is messed up! This country needs change!! We need good leaders!!! What is the way forward?” The last question is the one I wish to address. What indeed is the way forward? We cannot move forward without looking back. How did we get here? I will try to keep this as brief as possible…

The Berlin conference of 1885 where Africa was shared saw us gifted to the British. In 1897, Flora Shaw (Lady Lugard) branded us with the name Nigeria. In 1914, Lord Lugard almagamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria effectively bonding us into one country. The reason for the almagamation was solely economic.

The Northern protectorate was not  economically viable while the southern protectorate was producing surpluses. In the words of Lord Harcourt, “We have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the treasury. The promising youth is………about to effect an Alliance with a Southern Lady of means. I have issued the special license and Sir Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruitful and the couple constant”. This “marriage” was not by choice or agreement rather by decree.


Before we became Nigerians, there were Ijaws, Yorubas, Hausas, Ibos, Efiks, Ogonis etc. Before the conquest of the British, these tribes existed as Nation states, independent of themselves and of the British. Now imagine these different, previously independent nation states with truckloads of diverse cultures, mentalities and backgrounds being forced to exist as one whole unit. The mental picture of course cannot be smooth. Our ideal whole unit was fraught with cracks, nooks and crannies. We remained in our tribal moulds as we tried to learn to be one country.


The British favoured the Hausas not just because of their centralized system of government but because this system had instilled an obedience to power in the Hausa man. He was totally obedient to his spiritual leader(The Sultan of Sokoto) and his Political leader (The Emir of Kano). The Yorubas had a weaker centralized system of Government with a high rate of education whilst the Ibos had an egalitarian system where each community had a ruler and there was no centralization of power at all. So the Hausas were perfect for the plans of the British.


Going back to Lord Harcourt’s speech above and you see that the North is the “youth”(man) and the South is the “Lady”. This was no coincidence. As was commonly practiced in that era, a man “owns” his wife and controls every facet of her life. In this marriage conducted by the British, the plan was to give the north political power over the south and a permanent control over the Southern Resources….

Article credit: Nduka Uzoamaka

Keep a date with us for the second part.

18 thoughts on “Before the marriage….

  1. Well written! and that same favoritism was the reason the 1st ever elections was rigged for an Hausa man to become the prime minister in the 60’s. I think what Nigerians need is that intellectual capacity to overcome religious sentiments, tribalism in our society, honestly that would be a huge statement of intent if we can take this 1st step.

  2. Well articulated and sounds scholarly….amidst ds wedding without a marriage what then can bring about d desired union??

  3. I love this…. Those of us who are married know that in most cases, you actually begin to learn about your spouse, and how to live with his or her kind of person only after the marriage. So, we must learn to cohabit.

    We must eschew “ethnocentric parochialism and epileptic chauvinism” as Hon Obahiagbon puts it.

    To say the north was not economically viable was a farce cos they were known to farm… how can we forget the groundnut pyramids that fed the world. A lot of the grains and tomatoes still come from the north as the abundance of land is a big advantage. What of their nomadic dairy farms?

    Any form of attempt to separate this “unwanted” couple, will lead to further breakdown… as each tribe will seek to form a nation. Cos we all have been discriminated against one way or the other.

    Let the elites and leaders wake up and work on how to forge a united Nigeria.

    God bless Nigeria

  4. Brilliant!!You sure will make a good policy maker,your opening paragraph hit the nail on the head…problem diagnosis is the only real way forward!…”looking back and asking questions, how did we get here?” You Sure will make a great political economist, but just incase the category doesn’t exist ;please become a pacesetter,start it!…. Part 2 please

  5. @Joseph, when I say d north was not economically viable, it was from d perspective of the British. D major commodity wanted from Nigeria by the British was coal (found in Enugu) to aid them with their own industrialisation. Subsequently, Rubber(found in Edo, Delta, Akwa ibom etc), Cocoa (Found in the south west), Timber(Rainforest in the humid south). The groundnut u mentioned became a valuable export commodity between 1956 and 1967. This was years after. So that’s why the north as at 1914 was not seen as economically viable.

  6. Ok then, I know the British colonialists created or saw problems they didn’t fix and part of it is why we went to civil war.

    Our future now, is in the hands of the elites. If they will do the right things, show civility, respect rule of law, fight tribalism, establish justice and show selflessness, this nation will grow faster and become economically viable.

  7. Nice one Uzzy, an interesting read U went straight to the point … we just have to make Nigeria work somehow
    Well d north has to realise that marriage is more of a partnership, both partners meet halfway and make it work. If only we’ll drop the political, religious & tribal bigotry….
    And d north is also economically viable, we just need a Government that will show genuine interest in Agriculture and mining in that region

  8. thanks Cynthia, Exactly what am saying … The North is vast… endless land mass that can be effectively utilized for agricultural purposes. Do you guys know that Solid minerals such as Iron ore, limestone, bronze, diamond, precious stones and the likes abound in north in immeasurable quantity. We must begin to tap into these areas and build up the economy.

    1. So much that some countries craved split and got it, South Sudan (for exmple) is not a good example of split. We’ve lived together and we still do even with the severe security challenges we’ve been fazed with. Like previously stated let those that are supposed to do it, not just do it but DO IT WELL.

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