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.