The series of events, which began early in 2013, include some slated for some Europe and other parts of the world all of which the authorities say are designed to showcase the success, potential and heritage of the world’s most populous Black nation.
Notwithstanding the official zeal to celebrate Nigeria at 100, some stakeholders insist the event is uncalled because the goal of the amalgamation appears to have been defeated. But suffice to say that the razzmatazz over the centenary jamboree is coming as the present federal administration steps up plans to convene a national dialogue/conference in 2014 to enable Nigerians painstakingly address core issues constituting a stumbling block to the progress of Nigeria. These issues include fiscal federalism, structure and form of government, tax policy, power sharing, and devolution of powers, citizenship, ethno-religious friction, all of which have triggered a legion of complaints and agitations across the nation’s political landscape. The issues dominated the interactive sessions held by the Presidential Advisory Committee on national dialogue/conference held in 13 major cities across the country. The committee has submitted its report to President Goodluck Jonathan, who has promised the conference will hold early in 2014, barely a year to the next general elections in the country.
It is arguable how auspicious the timing of the conference. There are many stakeholders in the Project Nigeria who have a lot of misgivings over the state of the nation, coupled with what they consider the controversial amalgamation of the protectorates in 1914 by Lord Fredrick Lugard. All these informed the clamour by various well-meaning groups and individuals on the need to revisit the issue of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates into a unified country by the then Governor- General in colonial employ, Lugard.
One of those holding such opinion is Mr Adedapo Adeniran, a legal luminary, who has written a book titled Nigeria: The Case for Peaceful and Friendly Dissolution. According to Adeniran, “It is more than about time that the people of this country (Nigeria) go deeply and objectively and indeed intelligently into the history of Nigeria and its politics and decide for themselves on a rational basis what sort or form of future they want for themselves, whether to remain as one entity or to engage in dismemberment of the country.
It is instructive to say that a geographical entity that does not know or understand its own history will be in perpetual wilderness.”
Those campaigning for the dismemberment of what they call ill-coupled Nigeria have taken the battle to social media perhaps with a view to capturing the attention of the young population that mostly avail themselves of the facilities of information and communication technology (ICT). A blogger wrote and asked visitors to his blog to spread the message. “To your tenths Oh Israel! The Israelites chanted and roared. ‘Every suckling to his mother’s breast. They were tired of the whips and chords of their leader King Solomon.
And just when they expected respite, Rehoboam the heir to the throne, chose evil advice over good. He decided to double the burden of the masses and that became his undoing. Israel broke up.”
Self-determination groups, mostly from the South of Nigeria, have also increased the tempo of their clamour for revisit of the 1914 marriage since the return of the country to civil rule in 1999. Some of these groups, which also clamour for control of the resources in their domains, include the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Igbo Youth Congress (IYC), the Coalition of Oodua Self-Determination Group (COSEG) and many others.
A number of socio-political upheavals that have rocked Nigeria to its foundations have also oiled the argument for the re-negotiation of its unity. One of such is the fratricidal Civil War between 1967 and 1970. But rather than abate, since the end of the war, ethnic cleavages continue to be visible in every facet of the country, from terrain political, religious, social and so on.
There are, however, those who are vehemently opposed to the breakup of the entity named Nigeria by Flora Shaw, an English journalist whose hands in marriage Lugard later had. Leading this pack is President Goodluck Jonathan. He said Nigeria would disappoint those waiting for its disintegration and would continue as an indivisible entity. He, however lashed out at the elite for the inability of the country to grow to its full potential.
“For those who are predicting that this country will separate in 2015 based on the fault lines as of the time of amalgamation, they will know that this prediction will not be of any consequence. Nigeria will continue to remain one indivisible entity… For us, we cannot imagine a Nigeria without Muslims and Christians; you can call it another name, but not Nigeria.
An intelligence report from a group in the United States was widely quoted as saying Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015 owing to frightening state of events in the country. The US report generated mixed feelings among stakeholders in the Project Nigeria with the Nigerian authorities strongly condemning the ‘prophecy.’ On its part, the US government was quick to point out that the view of the group remained the group’s and not of the US on earth.
Some Nigerians have also been speculating that the Deed of Amalgamation of the country in 1914 spelt out that the union would automatically expire after 99 years of togetherness. This section of Nigerians claims that the amalgamation of the two parts of the country was predicated on terms such as similar to what obtains in land tenure or Certificate of Occupancy which expires after 99 years it is said.
The claim and counter-claim prompted Nigerian Tribune to launch a search for the Amalgamation document. The search team got a 1914 Nigeria report compiled by the then Governor-General of the Federation, Lord Lugard and presented to his employers in Britain.
The report further underscored the real reasons for the amalgamation of the North and South of Nigeria, issues of administration, population, fiscal situation of the two separate protectorates at that time, and many more.
Below is an excerpt of the report on the first year of the federation, giving lucid details on the political structure, form and administration. The report was entitled, Colonial – Annual No. 878 and presented to houses of Parliament by Commands of His Majesty, April 1916, and published in the Gazette Number 8173-4.
The 57-page report reflected a few of the current contentious issues plaguing the nation, as the document included five pages of maps illustrating the fiscal structure, demography, land mass, provincial headquarters, road and rail networks. The report contained five broad sections namely financial position, trade, agriculture and industries, as well as government institutions, military forces and operations. The others included general information under which there subtitles like amalgamation, policy of administration, judicial, customs and fiscal frontiers, the war and other events
The report gave graphic details on capacity for revenue generation, expenditure, assets and public debt as well as finances of the native administrations under what it termed the financial position of the federation after the amalgamation.
In what appeared a covering note to the report addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, The Right Honourable A Bonar Law, the Governor General, wrote, “Sir, I have the honour to submit the Annual Report on Nigeria for the year 1914, in the preparation of which I have received the greatest possible assistance from Cameron, Central Secretary. I regret the unusual length to which this report has extended. It is primarily due to the unusual importance of the events of the year under review, which has witnessed the Amalgamation of the two administrations of Northern and Southern Nigeria into a single Government, and the outbreak of war in Europe [with its consequential war in the Cameroons.”
Under the topic, General, the report stated, “the year 1914 will ever be a memorable one in the annals of Nigeria, in that it opened with the amalgamation of the two separate administrations of northern and southern Nigeria into a single government of Nigeria, and its close saw the outbreak of the great world war, which affected the country not merely as an outlying part of the British empire in its trade and its revenue, but more nearly in that, at its commencement, Lagos was not without fear of invasion, and later the whole resources of the country were directed to the prosecution of the war against the neighbouring German colony of the Cameroons.”
It went further, “on January 1st [as governor of both northern Nigeria and southern Nigeria], I was privileged to declare at a public ceremony that by His Majesty’s order, those two administrations had ceased to exist, and were replaced by the single Government of Nigeria, under a governor-general, constituted under new Letters Patent and Orders in Council with a new seal and flag. The principal changes introduced by this new departure were as follows: The colony of southern Nigeria, whose boundaries for the first time were accurately defined, became the ‘colony of Nigeria, under an ‘Administrator’ responsible direct to the governor general , with small secretariat and political staff, but dependent as regards all other departments on the staff of the southern Provinces of the Protectorate. The legislative council remained, but its powers of legislation were restricted to the colony, since ‘it would be manifestly unjust to place Mohammedan emirates of the north and the mining interest of the Bauchi plateau under a Council sitting on the coast, in which they could have no representation.’ The annual estimates of expenditure continued to be submitted separately to the Council-a sufficient sum to meet that expenditure being assigned from the general revenues of Nigeria.”
On Jan 1st (as Governor of both Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria) I was privileged to declare at a public ceremony that by His Majesty’s orders those two Administrations had ceased to exist, and were replaced by the single Government of Nigeria, under a Governor-general, constituted under new Letters Patent and Orders in Council with a new seal and flag.
The principal changes introduced by this new departure were as follows: The “Colony of Southern Nigeria”, whose boundaries for the first time were accurately defined, became the “Colony of Nigeria” under an “Administrator” responsible direct to the Gov Gen, with a small Secretariat and Political staff, but dependent as regards all other departments on the staff of the Southern Provinces of the Protectorate.
The Legislative Council remained, but its powers of legislation were restricted to the Colony, since “it would be manifestly unjust to place the Mohammedan Emirates of the North and the mining interests of the Bauchi plateau under a Council sitting on the coast, in which they could have no representation.” The annual estimates of expenditure continue to be submitted separately to the Council- a sufficient sum to meet that expenditure being assigned from the general revenues of Nigeria.
A new executive council, comprising the senior officials of the whole of Nigeria replaced the former restricted council. A new body named the “Nigerian Council” was also created, which included among its members the leading official and unofficial representatives, both of the European and native communities, concerned with shipping, banking, commercial, and mining interests.
The Council must meet at least once in the year, and for the present, at any rate, its functions are restricted to a review of current events, and to an expression of public opinion in regard to the developments of government policy.
The Protectorate, which comprises an area of 334,300 square miles, was now divided into two spheres, each under a Lieutenant-Governor (assisted a separate secretariat) responsible to, and exercising large powers on behalf of, the Governor-General.
These spheres corresponded with former territories of Northern and Southern Nigeria, and were termed the Northern and Southern Province- an arrangement which obviated the difficulty presented by the fact that they were each subject to a different set of laws, in some cases widely divergent and differ essentially in many matters of policy and administration.
The system of land tenure and the prerogative of the Crown in respect to lands, the system of taxation, of the court of law, and the method of native administration were fundamentally different- and the adoption of any other method of sub-division, such as been suggested, would therefore have produces any initial chaos.
The division actually adopted, pending the unification of the laws and the evolution of a uniform policy, with such local variations as differences in race, in degree of civilization, in religion and environment, which might prove to be necessary for Nigeria, in no way precluded a later adjustment of this spheres.
The Northern Province, 12 in number, comprise an area of 255, 700 square miles, and a population estimated at 9 ¼ million. The Southern province, comprising now nine in number, covers 78,600 square miles, with a population of 7 ¾ million.
The colony has an area of 1,400, square mile and a population of 166,000, Mr Boyle, CMG, Colonial secretary of Southern Nigeria, was appointed to the senior post of Lieutenant- Governor of the Southern Province, and Mr Temple CMG, chief security of Northern Nigeria, to the Lieutenant Governorship of the Northern Province, while Mr James CMG became administrator of Lagos, each having the title of “His Honour.”
New Capital (a) Kaduna:
With the approval of the secretary of state, a site was selected for a new central Capital of Nigeria, at the point where the main trunk railway crosses the Kaduna river, and where the projected trunk lying through the Eastern part of the Protectorate will later form a junction at the headquarters of the railway, and the site of the principal workshop.
The climate of this site, situated near the edge of the central plateau at the altitude of 2,000 feet, is in sharp contrast to the moist and relaxing heat of Lagos and the dry heat of Zungeru (the respective capitals of the former administration)- and at Kaduna, for half the year, the nights are actually cold and the air is bracing.
It is assured of an ambulant and good water supply, and is within easy access by railway both of the Eastern and Western Areas, while the branch line to Baro on the Niger and the waterway of that great river affords access to the central district.
The headquarters of the military force had already been located here in temporary building for a year, in order to test its salubrity and its freedom from tsetse and mosquitoes and other noxious insects. Progress was made during the year in the erection of permanent building for the force, and for the railway officials in their new location, but the financial stringencies to the war has retarded progress….”
Southern Nigeria, on the other hand, presented a picture which was in almost all points the exact converse of that in the North. Here the material prosperity had been extraordinary. The revenue had almost doubled itself in a period of five years. The surplus balances exceeded a million and a half. The trade of the interior had been greatly developed by the construction of a splendid system of roads, and by the opening to navigation of waterways hitherto chocked with vegetation, while railways, harbour works, waterworks, and other capital expenditure, aggregating many millions of loan commitments, were in process. Ad valorem duties (derived in part on goods for Northern Nigeria) were abolished on one class of imports after another, and for the most part only specific duties were retained. And so while Northern Nigeria was devoting itself to building up a system of Native Administration and laboriously raising a revenue by direct taxation, Southern Nigeria had found itself engrossed in material development.
In the sphere of Executive Government, the South was divided into three Provincial Administrations, under Commissioners whose powers in regard to the natives were under little control from headquarters, while the departmental staff was largely increased by this system of separate and semi-independent provincial rule, and the nominal heads of departments had little control.
Upon amalgamaton this “Provincial System” was abolished, and the whole area was re-divided into nine Provinces under Commissioners directly responsible to the Lieutenant-Governor, and entrusted with important duties and powers in regard to the conduct of native affairs, but limited in relation to the departments, which were placed under thsi own heads. During the year, steps were taken to define the duties and functions of the Commissiners of these new Provinces and their staff towards the great population – estimated at nearly eight millions – for whose welfare they were responsible; but very much remains to be done in this direction.
Some few departmens, whose functions were common to both North and South, were “centralised,” viz, placed directly under the Governor-General, who is assisted by a “Central Secretariat.” These included the Military, the Rialway, the Marine, the Judiciary, and the Csutoms, the latter of which is responsible for the collection of duties on the inland froniters, as well as on the sea-board. To these were added later the Treasury, Audit, and Surveys.
Some few other departments, though duplicated in each of the two great areas into which the Protectorate was now divided, were, for purposes of co-ordination and general control, placed under a common head. Thus the Medical and Sanitary Department sin each area were under their own “Principal Medical Officers” and “Senior Sanitary Officers,” but both were subject to the general control fo the Director of the Medical and Sanitary Service. The Public Works were separately organised under two Directors, but a “Director of Railways and Works ” was appointed as adviser to the Governor-Generla on all matters connected with railways and public works. The Attorney-General, the Postmaster-General, adn the Chief Conservator of Forests, occupied similar positions in regard to their respective departments in the North and South. The general business of Nigeria is also conducted thorugh the Central Secretariat.
The remaining departments: Political, Agriculture, Education, Lands, Mines, Police, and Prisons, were completely decentralised and their heads in the North and the South are immediately under the Lieutennat-Governor.
The departments of the Southern Provinces include the Colony in their spheres of administration, and no distinction was made in this regard, except that, as far as possible, the requirements of the Colony are separately budgeted in the annual estimates, in order that the Legislative Council may be afforded an opportujity of criticism and suggestion.