Amalgamation means bringing together two or more groups or territories under one administration. At the wake of the British conquest of the different parts of Nigeria, those territories were initially administered independently. This was because the territories were conquered at different times. Consequently, there was need for a central administration.
Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 by the British led to the birth of Nigeria and made it easier for the colonial government to administer the country as one unity.
DIFFERENT STAGES OF THE AMALGAMATION OF NIGERIA
The process of amalgamation of Nigeria officially in 1914 was not achieved over night. It went through some processes or stages. In fact, the move for the amalgamation of Nigeria had started long before 1914. In 1886, Captain Taubman Goldie’s United African Company was given a Royal Charter to trade and exercise political power in the Niger Area. It was in order to render River Niger safe as a gateway into the interior, that the British colonisers proclaimed Oil Rivers Protectorate which later became Niger Coast Protectorate.
To secure central direction of policy and pool economic resources, the British Government kept by the recommendation of a Special Committee Report on the British Niger Territories of 1898 and adopted the policy of gradually amalgamating its various administrative units in Nigeria.
Below are the stages of Amalgamation of Nigeria.
- In 1893, the Oil Rivers Protectorate with its headquarters in Calabar was amalgamated with other nearby territories to form the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1897, Benin Kingdom was conquered and incorporated into the Protectorate.
- In 1900, a series of smaller protectorates in the hinterland of the Colony of Lagos were amalgamated with the Niger Coast Protectorate to form the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and administered separately from the Colony of Lagos.
- In a ceremonial military parade in Lokoja in January 1900, Fredrick Lugard declared the establishment of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria even before the actual military conquest and occupation of the region.
- In 1906, the Colony of Lagos was amalgamated with the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.
- In 1914, the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria was amalgamated with the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, marking the end of a series of amalgamations, which started in 1893.
The first process was the appointment of Lord Lugard as the Governor of the newly merged territories with his traditional headquarters in Lagos. He was assisted in overseeing the Northern and Southern territories by Lieutenant Govenors.
REASONS FOR THE AMALGAMATION OF NIGERIA
There are a couple of reasons which led to amalgamation of Nigeria. It is important to note that these reasons were originally in the economic interest of Britain. The main reasons for the British amalgamation were as follows:
- For administrative ease and convenience: The Protectorate of Southern and Northern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914 for administrative ease and convenience. The Colonial government faced shortage of enough British personnel who could have helped in the administration of the different Protectorates. Engaging more British personnel required higher administrative expenditures by the Colonial government. It was, therefore, more convenient for the British to merge the two Protectorates together so as to avoid the high cost of running separate administrations.
- The need to pool the resources of the north and south together: Pooling the resources of the two Protectorates in one treasury makes sufficient resources available for administering the entire country by the British.
- Easy access to transportation and movement of goods between the north and south: Since the two Protectorates had become one, movement of people and goods between the north and the south became easier since there were no administrative barriers dividing the two areas.
- To unite the operations of such services as the post, telegraphs, currency, army and police: With the amalgamation, it was easier for the north and south to share above mentioned services since they were commonly owned under one administration.
- To gain the very best in terms of exploiting the economy of both regions: The merger facilitated easy exploitation of the resources of the north and south by the British.