Richard Akinjide QC, SAN was the first republic Minister of Education and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN). In his essay, he deserted on the root causes of Nigeria’s problems and this could help to proffer solutions to the incessant and unending national malice.
Here, in his essay he detailed some of the issues that so many Nigerians perhaps, have not heard of before in the history of Nigeria. The details are indeed interesting to the inquisitive mind and for those who seek knowledge to end this consistent political problems in Nigeria.
By Richard Akinjide, QC, SAN (First Republic Minister of Education)
Nigeria is a very complex country. Our problems did not start yesterday. It started about 1884. Lord Lugard came here about 1894 and many people did not know that Major Lugard was not originally employed by the British Government. He was employed by companies. He was first employed by East Indian Company, by the Royal East African Company and then by the Royal Niger Company. It was from the Royal Niger Company that he transferred to the British government. Unless you know this background, you will not know the root causes of our problems. The interest of the Europeans in Africa and indeed Nigeria was economic and it’s still economic. They have no permanent friends and no permanent interests. Neither their interests nor their friends are permanent. Nigeria was created as the British sphere of interests for business. In 1898, Lugard formed the West African Frontier Force initially with 2,000 soldiers and that was the beginning of our problems.
Anybody who wants to know the root cause of all the coups and our present problems, and who does not know the evolution Nigeria would just be looking at the matter superficially. Our problems started from that time. And Lugard was what they called at that time imperialist. A number of British soldiers, businessmen, politicians were very patriotic. But I must warn you; they were operating in the interest of their country. Lugard became a Lord.
Nigerians, too, should operate in the interest of their country. When Lugard formed the West African Frontier Force with 2,000 troops, about 90 percent of them were from the North mainly from the Middle belt. And his dispatches to London between that time and January 1914 are extremely interesting. Lugard came here for a purpose and that purpose was British interest. Between 1898 and 1914, he sent a number of dispatches to London which led to the Amalgamation of 1914.
The Order – in – Council was drawn up in November 1913 signed and came into force in January 1914. In those dispatches, Lugard said a number of things, which are at the root causes of yesterday and today’s problems.
The British needed the Railway from the North to the Coast in the interest of British business. Amalgamation of the South (not of the people) became of crucial importance to British business interest. He said the North and the South should be amalgamated. Southern Nigeria came into existence in January 1900 … At the Centenary of the fall of Benin, I wrote a piece in a number of papers but before I published the piece, I sent a copy to the Oba of Benin. So when Benin was conquered in 1896, it made the creation of the Southern Nigerian protectorate possible on January 1, 1900.
If you remember, Sokoto was not conquered until 1903. So, there was no question of Nigeria at that time. After the conquest of Sokoto, they were able to create the northern Nigerian protectorate. Lugard went full blast and created what was to be known as the protectorate of Northern Nigeria. What is critical and important are the reasons Lugard gave in his dispatches. They are as follows: He said the North is poor and they have no resources to run the protectorate of the North. That they have no access to the sea; that the South has resources and have educated people.
The first Yoruba lawyer was called to the Bar in 1861. Therefore, because it was not the policy of the British Government to bring the taxpayers money to run the protectorate, it was in the interest of the British business and the British taxpayer that there should be Amalgamation. But what the British amalgamated was the Administration of the North and South and not the people of the North and the South, that is one of the root causes of the problems of Nigeria and the Nigerians.
When the amalgamation took effect, the British government sealed off the South from the North. And between 1914 and 1960, that’s a period of 46 years, the British allowed minimum contact between the North and South because it was not in the British interest that the North be allowed to be polluted by the educated South. That was the basis on which we got our independence in 1960 when I was in the parliament. I entered Parliament on December 12, 1959. When the North formed a political party, the northern leaders called it Northern Peoples Congress (NPC). They didn’t call it Nigeria Peoples Congress. That was in accordance with the dictum and policies of Lugard. When Aminu Kano formed his own party, it was called Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) not Nigerian Progressive Union.
It was only Awolowo and Azikiwe who were mistaken that there was anything called Nigeria. In fact, the so-called Nigeria created in 1914 was a complete fraud. It was created not in the interest of Nigeria or Nigerians but in the interest of the British. And what were the structures created? The structures created were as follows: Northern Nigeria was to represent England; Western Nigeria like Wales; Eastern Nigeria was to be like Scotland. In the British structure, England has permanent majority in the House of Commons. There was no way Wales can ever dominate England, neither can Scotland dominate Britain. But they are very shrewd. They would allow a Scottish man to become Prime Minister. They would allow a Welsh man to become Prime Minister in London but the fact remains that the actual power rested in England.
That was what Lugard created in Nigeria, a permanent majority for the North. The population figure of the North is also a fraud. In fact, a British Colonial Civil Servant who was involved in the fraud was trying to expose it but he was never allowed to publish it. The analysis is as follows: If you look at the map of West Africa, starting from Mauritania to Cameroun and take a population of each country as you move from the coast to the Savannah, the population decreases. Or conversely, as you come from the Desert to the Coast, right from Mauritania to the Cameroun, the population increases. The only exception throughout that zone is Nigeria. Nigeria is the only zone whereby you go from coast to the North, the population increases and you come from the North to the Coast, the population decreases. Well, geographers, anthropologists, and population experts, draw your conclusions, Someone has told me the last population census was done by computer, what a nonsense.