The People’s Republic: How they came


AS time went on, it became clear to the British Government that the Royal Niger Company (RNC) was unequal to the mounting demands of the imperial rivalry in which the British, and the French in particular. had locked horns. To start with, the effective influence of the Company, as we have noted, had never extended much beyond the banks of the Niger, Benue, and the rivers in the immediate vicinity of their trading stations. Besides, as a trading concern with naturally limited resources, and whose primary object, in any case, was to make the maximum possible profit, the Company was very ill-equipped, and could not be expected to provide the financial, administrative, diplomatic, and military wherewithal which the new Anglo-French imperialist competition warranted. Furthermore, the other firms trading along the banks of the Niger had made complaints of monopolistic practices, in breach of its Charter, against the Company. Because of all this, the Company’s charter was revoked with effect from I January 1900, when the British Government assumed control of all the territories formerly placed under the jurisdiction of the Company.

Under the instrument of revocation, compensation was paid to the Royal Niger Company as follows:

(1) £450,000 for expenses incurred in connection with administration.

(2) £115,000 for buildings and stores taken over for military and administrative purposes; and (3) £250,000 public debt.

In addition, the British Government undertook to impose royalties on minerals won in the area lying between and north of the Niger and Benue, with the exception of Bornu Province, and to pay to the Company for a period of 99 years from the revocation of its Charter, half of the receipts of such royalties.

In 1949, the sum of £2½ million was paid by the Nigerian Government to the United Africa Company Limited – successor of the Royal Nigeria Company – as full compensation for the surrender by it of its right to royalties for the unexpired period of 50 years. By I January 1900, the colonisation of Nigeria had been almost fully accomplished. The country was, at that date, administered by Britain, either directly or indirectly, in three separate units:

(I) The Colony and Protectorate of Lagos which consisted of the areas of authority of the present Western State and Lagos State Governments, excluding Egba Division.

(2) The Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, which comprised roughly the areas of authority of the present three Eastern States, and of the Midwestern State Government.

(3) The Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, which was more or less the same as the present six Northern States.

There was also an indigenous sovereign state which constituted a tiny enclave in this huge dependency. It was known as the Egba United Government. It came into existence in 1893, and its area of authority was coterminous with what is now known as the Egba Division of Abeokuta Province.

In 1906 the Colony and Protectorate of Lagos and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria were merged into one administrative unit known as the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. On I January 1914, the latter and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria were amalgamated to form the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. On 16 September 1914, under circumstances which could not be regarded as altogether free from the taints of fraudulent diplomatic manoeuvres and duress, the Alake of Abeokuta was made to surrender the sovereignty of his tiny domain, and to place it ‘unreservedly under the Government of the Protectorate of Nigeria.’ By this act, the colonisation of the whole of Nigeria by Britain was consummated.


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