COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION – LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT

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LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT – SSS 2

lesson note on government Colonial Administration Colonization


COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION

Colonialism can be described as the policy or practice in which a developed country takes control over less developed countries, occupying it with settlers and exploiting it economically.

BACKGROUND

Prior to the 19th century, European countries like Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, etc. had gone ahead in science and technology. The desperate need for materials to sustain their industries in the 19th century led to the ‘Scramble for Africa’. Sourcing for raw materials, market and employment became serious and competitive that the European countries had to call a conference in Berlin in 1884/85 where Africa was shared for colonization. So, Britain colonized Nigeria, Ghana, the Gambia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa.

The colonization of Nigeria started in 1898 when the British government administered the territory along three constituencies. These are: (i) The Lagos colony (ii) The Southern Protectorate (iii) The Northern Protectorate.

In May 1906, the Lagos colony and the Southern Protectorate were merged and given a new name; that is, the Colony and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. In 1914, the Colony and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria was amalgamated with the Nothern Protectorate to form the Protectorate of Nigeria under the purview of Frederick Lugard.

INDIRECT RULE SYSTEM

This is a policy of political administration used by the Britain where the traditional rulers and their political institutions were used as agencies for controlling their colonial territories.

The first governor-general of Nigeria, Lugard was regarded as the ‘father of indirect rule system’. He had already used the system successfully in northern Nigeria between 1900 and 1906. After the amalgamation, in 1914, Lugard introduced indirect rule in the southern part as well.

REASONS FOR ADOPTING INDIRECT RULE
  • From experience of Frederick Lugard, the system had been successful in other colonies such as India, Uganda, etc. so it should be successful in West Africa as well.
  • The system was cheap and there was no sufficient fund to engage enough manpower of Britain origin for direct administration.
  • Che climatic condition of the colonies were not favorable to Britons. Africa was nicknamed ‘the white man’s grave’. So it was better to use the indirect rule.
  • There was Language barrier.
  • The status of traditional rulers was such that the locals respected them as having divine authorities, so it was easier to use them to control the system.
  • The traditional system was well established, so Britain thought it was not wise to destroy it.
  • The indirect system was absolutely successful in northern Nigeria because the traditional rulers were authoritative heads who were never questioned by their subjects. It was also easy to manipulate the traditional rulers because they were illiterates. The British also appointed District Commissioners who advised the Emirs but supply intelligence on civil or military situation to the British.

    In Western Nigeria, indirect rule was partially successful because the traditional system was constitutional monarchy. Also, there were more elites in the region who were democracy oriented and could ask the authorities, questions.

    Indirect rule was not so successful in eastern Nigeria because the traditional rulers were not easily identified due to egalitarianism in the community and absence of centralized authority. Some officials (warrant chiefs) were appointed and given certificates called warrant by the British. They were meant to help in the collection of tax, passing of bye-laws and administration of laws. But they met a lot of resistance due to their high handedness.

    SOME MERITS OF THE INDIRECT RULE
    1. The people’s culture and tradition were respected especially in the North.
    2. The system was more accommodating than the French’s direct rule system.
    3. Traditional rulers were trained to be better administrators.
    4. The system helped to curb some inhuman and barbaric practice especially in the eastern and southern part.
    5. The system stirred up the spirit of nationalism in the colonies.
    6. It ensured maintenance of law and order.
    DEMERITS OF INDIRECT RULE
      These demerits could also be taken as the reasons why the educated elites opposed the introduction of indirect rule in southern Nigeria.

    1. The educated elites were sidelined in the administration.
    2. The system made use of chiefs and traditional rulers who were illiterates.
    3. Functions of warrant chiefs were not clearly stated, so they abused their power by dealing ruthlessly with the people. Resistance by the people led to notable riots like Aba Women Riot of 1929 and Warri Provincial Tax Riot of 1927.
    4. The system did not check evil practices such as forced labour, embezzlement and so on among chiefs and traditional rulers.
    5. The system caused underdevelopment.
    6. Traditional rulers were reduce to puppets of the colonial masters but were obliged excessive power over their own subjects.
    7. The system was autocratic since the people’s voices and opinions were silence and advice rejected with no consequence.
    8. People were not given the opportunity to choose chiefs. Appointment and deposition of rulers were the sole prerogative of the British.

    FRENCH COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION IN WEST AFRICA

    As its part of the ‘Scramble for Africa,’ France colonized Benin Republic (formerly Dahomeh), Cote De Voire (formerly Ivory Coast), Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), Niger and Mauritania. Togo was a mandate given to France to administer under the supervision of the League of Nations.

    THE POLICY OF ASSILMILATION

    Assimilation is the colonization policy of the French administration where the French culture is imposed on colonies outside France, irrespective of the distance of the territory or the culture of the aborigines. Models of towns and villages as obtained in France were established in French colonies. This was known as the ‘Communes.’

    FEATURES OF FRENCH COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION
    1. There was no regard for traditional institutions and rulers.
    2. Native culture and policies were destroyed and French culture imposed.
    3. The administration was centralized. All France’s colonies were formed into a federation headquartered in Dakar and headed by a Governor-General who reported to the Minister of Colonies in France.
    4. The administration made use of direct rule system.
    5. Only the West Africans born in the communes were given opportunities of citizenship status by birth, depending on other conditions. Every other person were regarded as subjects.
    6. Opportunities for education were limited to the communes.
    7. Formation of political parties was abolished.
    8. Assimilation policy was opposed by French merchants and intellectuals due to financial burden and hatred of equality with Africans.
    9. Existence of Code of Indiginate which connotes inferior legal status for natives of French colonies. By implication, anyone could be arrested arbitrarily, imprisoned for years, and used in forced labour.
    ABOLITION OF ASSIMILATION POLICY AND REPLACEMENT WITH POLICY OF ASSOCIATION

    France later bow to pressure after a protracted intense opposition and condemnation from home and abroad. Assimilation policy was abolished and France embraced the Policy of Assimilation. By implication, all the feature of assimilation are now reversed in Association Policy.

    IMPERIALISM

    Imperialism may be defined as the economic control and exploitation of weak countries by stronger ones, following colonization, use of military force or other means.

    NEO-COLONIALISM

    This is the consistent control of newly independent state by exerting economic, political, cultural and other kind of pressure on their domestic and foreign affairs.

    EVALUATION QUESTIONS

    • (a) Define colonialism
    • (b) Highlight the advantages and the disadvantages of colonialism in Nigeria.
    • (c) Distinguish between the direct rule and the indirect rule systems.
    • (d) Highlight the features of the direct rule system
    • (e) Highlight the features of the indirect rule system.

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