NIGERIA IN 1914: A TRAGEDY OF AMALGAMATION – 2.

 

 

 

                                  Lord and Lady Lugard (Flora Shaw)…

Let us fast-track the narration to the events of 1914 – the year of the amalgamation, as this would prove the evidence of the colossal disaster of that year – 1914. The amalgamation wasn’t an idea that emanated from any of the two indigenous bodies; the Northern and Southern Protectorates that were forcefully brought together.

In the first place, the name Nigeria; with which a people forcefully brought together were saddled with, was not given by any of the indigenous components. Instead, the name; Nigeria, was given by a foreigner, albeit a British lady journalist from the United Kingdom’s tabloid – The Times. She was later to find love in Nigeria with another British Army officer; Colonel Frederick Lugard [full names: Frederick John Dealty Lugard] – born on January 22, 1858, in Fort Saint George, Madras in India and died on April 11, 1945, in Abinger, Surrey, in England].

She, after her marriage to the British Army Officer-administrator in Nigeria, named the geographical piece of land belonging to the two Protectorates Nigeria; through the concept of “this area of the Niger” – applying to the River Niger. This River [Niger] was said to have been discovered, not by the aborigines, but by a Scottish [United Kingdom] Explorer; Mungo Park, around the year of 1796. The latter’s story is well preserved in his book: Travels in the interior Districts of Africa.

Of course, neither the one that named the country after this area of the Niger, nor the one that discovered the River Niger, were the calamitous foundational genesis of the People forcefully brought together on a geographical piece of land so nebulously packaged and named.
It means that the inclusion of these personae dramatis’ era in this narration remains essentially for the purpose of establishing the point where the evil hands of human being dug a foundation of disaster for a people that were yet to emerge.

The amalgamation of 1914, as earlier established in part one of this essay, was not for the benefit of the different people and races that formed the previous Protectorates. Instead, that colossal action in wickedness was purely and simply for the economic benefits of the British, as facts established. We need to have few facts about reasons that forced the thought of amalgamation. Here we go.
In the year of 1911, the British Home office had a budget surplus balance sheet report from the Southern Protectorate while the Northern Protectorate produced a deficit budget balance sheet. The fact of this contradiction, or call it anomaly, was not lost to the British. It gave them worries because it was a development that might be threatening their economic interest.

We should not forget to take into recognition that the British adventures into the larger world for colonization – ditto every other Colonialist, was primarily economic. Ipso facto, the development where budget deficiency of any of its administrative Units was being reported was not comfortable news.
But that bad news of 1911, being the first year of budget deficit; a deficit of just a little over Three Hundred British Pounds was tolerated. However, the next subsequent two years – albeit 1912 and 1913, budget balance Sheet reports became the straw that broke the British’s camel back. While 1912 deficit went above Seven Hundred British Pounds, the one of 1913 showed deficit of One Thousand Three Hundred British Pounds. This wasn’t what the Colonial Home Office ever prepared for and as such a decision to reverse that ugly situation need to be taken and it did not take lengthy of time to find where the solution laid. And that decision led to the Amalgamation Policy of 1914.

Unifying the people of this Area of the Niger under one single administration became a decision judiciously taken, strictly, for the exigency of the British economic buoyancy, and without anything doing with the interest, in whatever format, of the people forcefully brought together.
We need to know something also about the number of people that gathered at the amalgamation ceremony; an event that took place on January 1, 1914, in Ikot Abasi; a quiet town in present day Akwa Ibom State, in South-South Nigeria.
There were 28 people in the gathering where signatures put into paper brought a “UNITED Country” out of the two Protectorates – South and North, and the Lagos Colony. Unfortunately, out of the 28 personae dramatis, only 6 were Nigerian, or let us call it “People from this Area of the Niger”.
The few number of the aborigines, or indigenes; present in that epoch-making ceremony should be seen as tragic, but most tragically incomprehensible however is the fact that none of the 6 Representative of the People of the emerging country signed the document of the amalgamation.
Why were they invited to the ceremony when they were not to be politically and actively involved? It was all part of the well-crafted and demonically strategized manipulative policy of the British Colonialist, to achieve what it wanted without any hindrance from the most eruditely vigilant camp of one of the two Protectorates – the Southern Protectorate.

We need to learn a few more things about the difference between the South and North Protectorates, as they existed before the gathering for the amalgamation of 1914, but not without completing the narrative of those 28 People that gathered for the amalgamation and role-function of each and all the personae dramatis.
So, let us go and finish that assignment first before returning back to the narration of the hidden trajectory – hidden facts from the past predating Nigeria’s existence.
As mentioned in paragraph three above, only 6 out of the 28 that sat for the ceremony were Nigerians, leaving the remaining 22 people as foreigners. This itself should not be unexpectedly embarrassing as the People from both the South and North Protectorates, being brought together at that ceremony, were actually foreigners to themselves. We shall say one or two words about the fact of these brothers that are [I used the word ARE, in the present-tense, deliberately] foreigners to themselves as we navigate this narration into the concluding stages.
The 6 Nigerians that participated in the ceremony of the amalgamation without signing any paper were:
1. HRH Muhammadu Attahiru II – then Maiturare Sarkin Mussulumi and Sultan of Sokoto
2. Usuman Dan Maje who later became Emir of Kano
3. Sir Kitoyi Ajasa – First Nigerian to be knighted, he was one of the leaders of the People’s Union, and was the founder of the conservative newspaper and a very popular lawyer from Lagos
4. HRH Siyanbola Ladigbolu – the Alaafin of Oyo
5. HRH R Henshaw – then Obong of Calabar
6. Abubakar Garbai ibn Ibrahim – then Shehu of Borno
The tragedy of that day’s ceremony remained the fact that these 6 Royal and Noble Gentlemen; and they were all nobles in every sphere of human endeavours, did not sign the document of amalgamation. Why were they assembled in Ikot Abasi on that day of January 1, 1914?
We shall be providing the answer next week as we continue the navigation of this voyage of discovery into Nigeria’s naughty past and heritage of tragedy which the amalgamation of 1914 signified.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.

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2 thoughts on “NIGERIA IN 1914: A TRAGEDY OF AMALGAMATION – 2.

  1. Charles Dafe Reply

    The Guru, thanks very much again for your erudite history of 1914 drama in Ikoto – Abasi. Where only six (6) Aborigines out the twenty eight (28) persons in the business meeting – Nigeria came into existence.
    What is now the solution and way out for this contraception put together by the British? It has become expident that agitations and resistance would not stop by the various ethnic groups /nationalities because ‘when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes right’.
    The time to act is now. The ‘Ostrich’ game must stop henceforth. No ethnic group or nationality would allow another lord it over him or his people. That was how the apartheid regime in South Africa was dismantled.
    Why should we accept that in Nigeria of today?

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