Skip to main content

Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 Was Purely a British Interest


It is historical that there were series of nations existing before Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 by the British (Sir Frederick Lord Lugard) without the consent of the people, they were governing during that period. Then, the three major ethnicities in Nigeria such as the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo etc, were existing as independent nations prior to the colonial era. That time the Northern and Southern protectorates were two different entities that were ruled simultaneously by the British. According to one famous modern nationalist of Nigeria, Sir Ernest Ikoli said in BBC Witness History programme that the current Northern (Muslim) and Southern (Christian) Nigeria were two different people and then travelling from Lagos to the Northern Protectorate was like a journey from one end to another end of the world. The people of the present day Nigeria were not familiar to each other. Yet, this unholy amalgamation was done in the British economic interest, not in the interest of Nigerians (Onwuzururike, 2005).

Let us consider few reasons why Nigeria was amalgamated by the British: (a) The immediate reason was economic: The Northern Budget could not sustain its protectorates due to budget deficit; always running at loss because the Northern Protectorate is landlocked. While the Southern Protectorate budget was always having budget surplus because of its coastal terrain and monies were coming in from taxes, excise duties, imports and exports, demurrages etc, In otherwise, the surplus budget from the South was used in developing the deficit Northern Nigeria and the trend is still invoke in modern-day Nigeria. So the British thought it wise that amalgamation could be the best option in other not to against the British Colonial Policy. Because it is believed that it was the duty of the colonies to send monies to Britain, not Britain sending monies to her colonies. (b) Need to co-ordinate the Railway Policy: Since the Northern Protectorate was landlocked and could not easily transport her agricultural produce to the coastal South. For them to benefits from the Southern ports there was need to join the both railways’ gauges. The Northern Protectorate’s line had a different gauge from that of the Southern Protectorate, so for convenience they merged the different gauges into one so that the Northerners can transport their agro produce to Southern Nigerian cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar for shipments to Europe. (c) There was massive skilled manpower in the Southern Nigeria due to early western education she had. So, the Southern Nigeria’s skilled manpower is needed to support developmental projects in the North. Also it could provide jobs for young school leavers from the Southern Nigeria. The British considered that unification of the two sides would enhance movements of men and materials. (d) The Imperial Master felt that ruling two protectorates separately which had been interacting and were closely located was a waste of resources. So, it was unwise to rule over almost same people by one colonial master. (e) The British also believed administrative togetherness of the two protectorates would fast tract development and it would promotes the spirit of give and take, so that the wealth of the nation would be shared by all. These were the reasons that made the amalgamation of Nigeria possible in 1914.

Conclusion, it is clear that Nigeria we know today was brought to together as a result of British economic interest and not the interest of the Nigeria.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Opuene Kingsley Inowei

Scroll to Continue

Related Articles