Evolution of the Nigerian State: How the “Niger Area” became one

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Before, during and after the amalgamation of the Northern protectorates and southern protectorates, the Nigeria state had been constantly evolving to form what it is today. This evolution is a history that cannot be told without mentioning the Berlin Conference of 1884/85, the Royal Niger Company and the Colonial conquest of Nigerian territories by the British.

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Evolution of the Nigerian State.

Nigeria attained the status of a state in 1914 upon the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorate to be known and called Nigeria. A state is a politically organized body of people inhabiting a defined geographical entity with an organized legitimate government. Before the Nigeria state was formed by the British, series of historical event took place. We will look at them under this:

  1. Berlin Treaty
  2. Royal Niger Company in Nigeria Territories.
  3. Colonial Conquest and Administration of Nigerian Territories.

The Berlin Treaty

Due to rivalry among the European nations over acquisition of territories in Africa, the Berlin Conference was held between November 1884 and February 1885.

In attendance were several European powers including Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, United States of America, Germany, France and Britain. No African leader was present.

The European countries all agreed to certain codes of conduct which must be followed before acquisition of any African territory. In essence, this conference fastened the conquest and partition of Africa.

Nigeria and other African countries like Egypt, Sudan, Rhodesia, Uganda, Zambia Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), Kenya, Botswana and Ghana were taken control of by Great Britain.

Colonial Conquest and Administration of Niger Territories

The British conquered Nigeria by applying diplomacy and, in some cases, force. For instance, King Attahiru II of the Sokoto Caliphate was attacked because he refused to accept any British diplomatic friendship. Also, the Royal Nigeria Company allowed the British to gain administration of more territories in the then Nigeria.

The Royal Niger Company

The Royal Niger Company was formed by Sir George Taubman Goldie in 1879 when he convinced two principal British companies trading along the Niger to join together in a company known as the United African Company. Its name was later changed in 1882 to the National African Company. The company traded palm oil, rubber, timber, and other commodities abundant in the region.

In 1886, the company was given a Royal Charter authorizing it to act as a government in those places with which it had treaties. With its administrative headquarters at Asaba, the company changed its name to Royal Niger Company.

On 31st December 1889, the British government revoked the Royal Company’s charter. The company’s administration was replaced on 1st January 1900, by the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria.

The Occupation of the NIger Coast Protectorate

In 1885, Oil Rivers protectorate was proclaimed covering the present-day Niger Delta and territories inland from it as far as Lokoja and River Benue. In 1893, the Oil Rivers protectorate was renamed the Niger Coast protectorate.

Amalgamation of the NIgerian Protectorate

Before 1914, the British administrative areas in Nigeria were:

  1. Lagos Colony
  2. Oil Rivers Protectorate or Niger Delta Protectorate.
  3. Protectorate of Northern Nigeria.
  4. Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.

On January 1, 1914, Lord Frederick Lugard, the governor of both the Protectorate Northern Nigeria and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, signed a document consolidating the two, thereby creating the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

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