Amalgamation landmarks begging for facelift …

Help! Help!! Help!!!
Mungo Park House Is Going

By Hendrix Oliomogbe

THE crumbling wooden house with creaky staircase, which is reported to have once served as the seat of the Oil River, the precursor of the Southern Protectorate, is a metaphor of the sorry state of affairs in the country.
   Compared to the ornate State House, Marina, Lagos and Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, a visitor to this ramshackle building will hardly believe that power once flowed from this derelict edifice before the famous amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates, which resulted in modern Nigeria in 1914.
   The sophistication of this pre-fabricated story building lies in the fact that the materials consisted mainly of well-processed wood. The materials were cut to sizes and treated in Europe, and imported just to be coupled together in the country to form the weather-beaten structure.
    Tucked in a corner right behind Delta State High Court three and the state Library Board complex on the main street of Nnebisi, this pre-colonial antiquity, which was built by the Royal Niger Company, in 1886, and named after the famous British explorer, Mungo Park, who died while attempting to discover the source of the majestic River Niger, is in real danger of caving in, if no serious renovation work is carried out, and on time.
    There is a gloomy sensation occasioned by the dreary landscape where the fast crumbling upstairs is situated. There are gaping holes on the wooden platform, which serves as the top floor and the staircase. Even though they have occasionally been repaired, a walk up the staircase is still not for the faint hearted for fear that the 128-year-old building may just collapse, leading to fatalities. 
ImageMungo Park House, Asaba

Built during the time of Sir George Tubman Goldie by the United Africa Company (UAC), the building was named after the famous explorer, Mungo Park, who died in 1806, when his boat capsized at New Bussa, Niger State, during an expedition on the River Niger.
    Hugh Clapperton, who took over from him, abandoned the exploration in 1827. Richard and John Lander (the famous Lander brothers) started from where Clapperton stopped and were believed to have anchored in Asaba in 1830 before venturing to the mouth of the River Niger right on the Atlantic Ocean.
    Sir Goldie was appointed as the administrator of the Oil Rivers in 1884 and immediately merged the various small British firms that were in operation to form the UAC conglomerate. The company was granted license by the British Government and its headquarters was located in Asaba.
    Way back in 1879, Goldie had set up the National African Company, which operated in the lower valley of the River Niger in West Africa. He then united other British traders with similar economic aims to join him in the ownership of the amalgamated company, which he then renamed. With the partition of Africa at the Berlin Conference of 1885, the company, in 1886, received a charter of incorporation from the British government and was authorised to engage in the administration of the area on behalf of the British crown.
    Its tremendous success in palm oil business with the locals was to be its major undoing, as the British government in far away London closely monitored its activities and became envious. The government stepped in and took over UAC, which was then christened as the Royal Niger Company (RNC). The company flag, Ars Jus Pax was lowered in place of the Union Jack.
    With British government’s direct intervention, business boomed to the extent that a big warehouse was needed to store the produce, hence, the construction of Mungo Park’s House.
    It was mutual co-prosperity for the British and the locals, but Asaba people nursed a deep grudge against the British whom they accused of looking down on them and also engaging in sharp business practice. The white ways, culture, education and religion were radically different from those of their hosts. This resulted in the Ekumeku uprising, which lasted from 1898 to 1914 and is regarded by some historians as one of the longest resistance put up by any group against colonial imperialism in Nigeria.
    After fighting for more than a quarter of a century, the British triumphed, but they were thoroughly shaken. It was crystal clear that that their time in Asaba was numbered. The atmosphere for legitimate business was no longer conducive, and so, had to relocate to Calabar which served briefly then as the capital of the fledging protectorate.
    The Royal Niger Company was the forerunner of British colonialism in present day Nigeria as the company entered into treaties with locals and also conquered territories, which were later, annexed to the British Empire. In fact, it was on the strength of the company’s conquest that the British derived authority as well as imperial influence to present and support arguments on claims of territories when the major European powers met at the Berlin conference to partition Africa.
ImageBack view of Lugard house

With solid facts on the ground as a result of the activities of the Royal Niger Company, British claims were easily recognized by other world leaders at the parley, which was called by German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in the Imperial German capital.
    The Public Relations Officer of the museum, Okoroafor Ikechukwu, said that the building was handed over to the Federal Government through the National Commission for Museum and Monument (NCMM), in 1997. Though it has been a Federal Government property for almost 17 years, nothing has changed.
    Museums, he said, are supposed to keep legacies and heritage and that is why the edifice was declared a monument as it once served as the administrative headquarters of Nigeria, adding that if in 1900 the government changed and the administration of the territory was then run at this place, it followed that it momentarily served as the administrative headquarter of the country or of the Southern Protectorate of Nigeria before it was moved to Calabar.
    He remarked that, in 1900, when the Royal Niger Company handed over the reins of power of the budding colony to the British Government simultaneously in Lokoja and Asaba, the company’s flag was lowered and the Union Jack (British flag) was hoisted. Before then, the company controlled the area administratively, but immediately the British Government took over in 1900, Lord Lugard started the administration.
    The Education Officer, Chidi Uchenna, explained that Europeans from England shipped the pre-fabricated woods for the construction of the building through the River Niger. All the woods were cut to sizes before shipment.
  The major schedule of the workmen was simply to fix them. They just mounted the iron stand and began to fix the wood. The nuts and screws were pre-fabricated also and were simply knotted together at the site in Asaba.
    Uchenna lamented the present sorry state of the building, saying it is a national embarrassment. With its dilapidating form, there is no way an exhibition can be mounted there. There is an urgent need to restore it to near perfect state just as it was when it was constructed. With adequate funds, the building can be put back to near normal because there is no way the original material can be sourced.
    He added: “It is on record that several warehouses were built along the bank of the River Niger from Lokoja all the way down to Asaba and even in Port Harcourt and Calabar by the company for its business venture but the wooden storey building was its headquarters and it served both as offices and residential house for senior officers of the company who traded mostly in palm oil and palm kernel. It was named “Mungo Park House” in remembrance of the late British explorer for the significant role he played by paving the way for other explorers to discover the economic potentials in the area.”

Against the backdrop of its historical significance, one expects that the museum’s signpost should be located on the busy Nnebisi Road as the edifice is situated on a cul de sac some 100 metres off the road, instead of the present position just before the entrance where it heralds people to the historical house.
   As for visitors to the monument, Uchenna said it mainly plays host to students on excursion and academics who are doing research. There is a royal exhibition of all the traditional rulers in Delta State in one of the halls, which is partitioned with wood.
    He lamented: “The building was constructed with strong wood and iron and has served many government establishments. The Water board, school of handicraft, the Post and Telecommunications (P and T), library and many other government establishments have had offices here at one time or the other since it passed over to government in 1900. But ironically, this national monument of political, historical and cultural significance bears a sordid tale of neglect. The relic is in dire need of restoration.”
    Ikechukwu faulted the argument in some quarters that Calabar was Nigeria’s truly first seat of power and that Asaba, the current capital of Delta State was a mere trading headquarters, saying that it was the Royal Niger Company that extended the British influence in what later became Nigeria including Lokoja, another claimant. The Royal Niger Company played significant role in the making of the country.

In commemoration of the 1830 historic anchoring of the boat with which the Lander brothers sailed to Asaba from Bussa in present day Niger State in their quest to discover the source of the River Niger, the Delta State government under former Governor James Ibori built an anchorage in Asaba.
    Commissioned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on January 17, 2002, the centrally located edifice by the bank of the River Niger which is constructed in multi coloured marble with a bottom cycled stepson top of which rests the elevated golden chained anchorage was to mark the remarkable incident in history as well as to promote and preserve the past.
    Besides, the anchorage is the expatriate graveyard where seventeen staff members of UAC were buried. The names on the tombstones of these 19th century expatriates, most of whom died from malaria are still visible.
   With these vestiges of a colonial past, the Asaba museum spokesman said that between 1886 when Mungo Park’s House was built to 1900 when the British left to Calabar, Asaba was truly the capital of the colonial area, which was later, named Nigeria.
    He insisted that the relic may not have had the grand architectural designs and aesthetics of a modern day State House in Nigeria, but one thing is for sure, a proper history of Nigeria will not be complete without Mungo Park House. It did play a crucial role in the past affairs of the country.

Elegy to Zungeru, the forgotten capital

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor

ImageDilapidated, crumbled and overgrown by weeds… The famous house where Frederick Lugard signed the amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates

ON the bank of Kaduna River lies Zungeru in Wushishi Local Council. It is about 56 kilometres away from Minna, the Niger State capital. A laidback town with rustic realities, the serenity of the environment, the friendly ambience and wondrful people are salvation tunes for anybody looking for where to relax in a place close to nature. For a writer, creative juice flows in the town because there aren’t much distractions. On a market day, the town is sure to breath life. It welcomes everybody, as people come from far and wide to trade. This Wednesday afternoon, light poured in on the town brilliantly, as traders haggled and bargained.
   The wealth of this town is from its history: The star attractions being the house that Lord Frederick Lugard lived in opulence, and where, indeed, he signed the amalgamation document. The town holds a great deal of significance to the Nigerian state, as it was the birthplace of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first Nigerian Senate President and later president of the country; the current Senate President, David Mark; and Biafran warlord Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. It equally has the reputation of being the burial place of the founder of Nigerian Scout Movement, Australia-born Henry James Speed. Unfortunately, there is little in the town today to show that it had once served as the fulcrum of the nation’s history.
    But unfortunately, the town has not preserved its history as to make the desired income. These monuments have crumbled and decayed and their images are washed out like faded photographs of a distant forgotten era. The town is now a patchwork of both splendid moments, tragedies of funereal black, and darkly coloured vignettes.               
PRIOR to the advent of British colonisation, the region now known as Nigeria, at a time a geographical expression, comprised several contiguous nationalities, each having its distinctive structure, political, economic and social systems that defined relationship with outside world.
      But the extortion of agreement by Britain and forced institutionalisation of a barbaric colonial system ensured the emergence of a town like Zungeru as an administrative and commercial town.
   In the early 20th century, Zungeru was one of Nigeria’s most important towns. It was the capital of Northern Protectorates between 1902 and 1916. It was gathered the village was densely populated because of the concentration of federal civil servants, especially railway workers. With the high presence of Europeans, as well as the native colonial soldiers, commercial activities increased. Most of the soldiers made their shopping in the village market. 

   According to oral history, when the British colonialists came, their inability to call the place Dunguru brought about the corrupted form Zungeru. British forces occupied Zungeru in September 1902, which was then populated by the Nupe tribe. Lugard chose the town as capital of Northern Nigeria over Jebba and Lokoja due to its central location.
   It grew from an almost virgin territory of small scattered settlements of the indigenous population, mostly Nupes, Hausas and the Gwaris, to a town of over 35,100 residents. The population comprised the British, artisans from other West African British colonies and clerks from the Southern Protectorate as well as labourers and traders from Hausa, Nupe, Kanuri, Fulani and other tribes in the Northern Protectorate.
    Being a railway town, with sparse and scattered settlement of the indigenous people, Britain couldn’t have got a better bargain. They cleared the forest and established a market, military barracks and hospital, among other things. Thus, Zungeru became one of the most peaceful, cosmopolitan and politically important towns in Northern Nigeria.
      The movement of administrative headquarters from Zungeru to Kaduna in 1916  was like plucking the goose to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing. But in a way, this decision led to the town’s gradual descent, which  is evidenced in the neglect and lack of interest on the part of government and the citizenry to preserve national heritage.
   To fully understand the extent of this neglect, a journey through the community tells some revealing stories.  Zungeru, the forgotten capital of Northern Nigeria, by Bamtsoho Mohammed, a retired Brigadier General of the Nigerian Army, best capture it.

Government House at Zungeru, where Lugard once ran his government and which was declared one of Nigeria’s national monuments, is gone. The site  was declared a National Monument on February 13, 1962, and the building was erected in 1902, the year that Frederick Lugard established the administrative headquarters of the Northern Protectorate.
   Not even its foundation stones remain. What’s left of Lugard’s office and residence are ruins. With the exception of its columns and the structure’s concrete foundation, the House was completely dismantled in 1916, when the seat of government relocated to Kaduna.
   Aside from the remnants of the building itself, this particular national monument also includes 100ft of land on either side of the crest of the hill on which the house stood
Zungeru’s first church, the United Mission Church was built in 1905, but has been mostly washed away by erosion. Though the church’s original bell and furniture are still in use, the structure is in need of attention.
  The house and its surroundings are a testament of the neglect and vandalisation that have coloured the heritage. Stripped of its original fittings and all, what remains is a carcass nestling among weeds and thorns.
       Other historical sites such as the railway terminus, the steam generators that provided 24-hour transmission of electricity and water to colonists’ homes, and the Officers Mess are still existing; but are badly damaged. The head offices of pioneer multinationals John Holt, the Royal Niger Company and UAC are also visible, but only as ruins.
   The ‘dungeon’, an underground prison dug deep into the ground like a well but without the water. Here, the British lords lowered offenders as punishment. They are lowered into the deep end with a long rope and lifted out with the same rope once they’ve served their term, so to speak. 

    Lamentation, just as it is in the Holy Bible,  rents the air. The people are not really happy with the situation of things in the community on this market day, as many wondered what would have become of the town if Kaduna had not replaced it as favoured land.
   A motorbike rider,  Alhassan Musa, who spoke to The Guardian,  said. “we are not happy that government has neglected Zungeru.  There is nothing to write home about here, in terms of development, from the time the country’s headquarters was moved from the old railway town to date. He also complained about the nonchallant attitude of successive administrations toward preserving the historical monuments.
   Last year May, President Goodluck Jonathan kick-started the N162.9 billion Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project in Niger State. According to the President, the hydro dam project, when constructed, will generate 700 megawatts of electricity for the country.   Benefits of the dam 
President Jonathan listed employment opportunities, agricultural development and tourism as benefits from the dam.
  The Zungeru Dam was conceived about 30 years ago and the first feasibility study done on the project was by Messrs Chas T. Main International of USA.

Zungeru’s abandoned historical sites
• Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Centre, a gigantic structure that was initiated during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. It was built in memory of the late Azikiwe. The edifice was well-conceived and brilliantly structured to house the administrative and library blocks of the centre. Today, it is absolutely abandoned.
• Dr. Azikiwe Primary School is the elementary school that Dr. Azikiwe attended as a boy. And it is still standing.
• Colonial bridge, built by colonial masters is in existence, but rarely used.
• Museum in Zungeru houses excavations of items used by the colonialists. Many of such items can also be found in the state’s museum at Minna. Such items include guns and bullets used by the colonialists, the telephone used by Lord Lugard when he was in Zungeru, the bottles used for storing water and wine, colonialists’ head wears, among others.

FOR THE RECORD: Amalgamation Proclamation Of 1914

By Sir Frederick Lugard

Speech by the Governor-General (Sir F. Lugard) on the occasion of the declaration of the Constitution of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, January 1, 1914.


YOU are all aware that His Majesty’s Government, after long and mature consideration, arrived some time ago at the conclusion that it would be to the great advantage of the countries known as Southern and Northern Nigeria that they should be amalgamated into the one Government, conforming to one policy and mutually co-operating for the moral and material advancement of Nigeria as a whole.

   This policy had been strongly advocated by Sir William Macgregor as Governor of Lagos, by Sir Ralph Moor as High Commissioner of Southern Nigeria, and by myself as High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria about ten years ago. It has continued to be advocated by Sir Walter Egerton and my successors in Northern Nigeria.

   He construction of rival railways in Northern and Southern Nigeria accentuated the necessity having a single railway policy, with a single administration, and over a year ago the Secretary of State decided that the time had come to give effect to the scheme of constituting a single Government for Nigeria.

   Mr. Harcourt was pleased to select me to carry out this difficult task, and he appointed me in the first instance as Governor separately of the two distinct Governments of Northern and Southern Nigeria, with a view to informing myself of Local conditions and submitting to him my proposals for Amalgamation.

   I had the honour to submit those proposals for his consideration on May 9th last. They were accepted in all essentials, and today they are to take effect. I desire therefore as briefly as possible to describe to you, and through you to the official and unofficial community of Nigeria the basis on which this Amalgamation is to be carried out, and the principal changes which will result.

   The Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria will be placed under the control of a single officer upon will control of a single officer upon whom His Majesty has been pleased to confer the title of Governor-General, thus indicating the importance of this country among the Crown Colonies and Protectorates of the Empire. That portion which has hitherto been Northern Nigeria will be known in future as the Northern Provinces, while the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria will be known as the Southern Provinces of Nigeria; each will be under the immediate control of a Lieutenant-General responsible to the Governor-General. The Colony in view of its separate status and traditions will preserve a separate identity, under an Administrator of its own dealing direct with the Governor-General. For the present, the Central Headquarters will remain at Lagos, and the Governor-General will divide his time between the Headquarter Stations of the Northern and the Southern Provinces. 

   His Majesty, through the Secretary of State, has been pleased to confer on me the high honour of appointment as Governor-General, and I humbly hope that I may be enabled to discharge the functions of this office, the great responsibilities of which I deeply appreciate, in such a manner as to deserve His Majesty’s approval, and to the satisfaction and contentment of His Majesty’s loyal subjects and of all the people of Nigeria. To succeed in such a task would be impossible unless I have the goodwill and co-operation of all classes, Official and Unofficial, irrespective of race or creed, and I take this opportunity of earnestly asking for that co-operation and loyal assistance, assuring you at the same time that, so far as in me lies, I shall not spare myself nor find any work too hard or arduous, if I can thereby advance the true interests of this country and of each individual person in it, whatever his race or creed, or however humble his rank.

   For the high and responsible posts of Lieutenant-Governors of the Southern and Northern Provinces His Majesty has selected Mr. A. G. Boyle, C.M.G. and Mr. C. L. Temple, C.M.G. officers in whose loyalty and ability he has the highest confidence, and in whose hand the welfare of the Protectorate is assure. As Administrator of the Colony the Secretary of State has selected Mr. F. S. James, C.M.G. whose long experience in the South marks him out as the most fitting officer for the post. I may be permitted to offer to these officers my congratulations, and to express my deep satisfaction that I am privileged to work with them as my colleagues.

ImageThe map of Northern and Southern Protectorates taken in 1909

Various schemes for the dividing of Nigeria into many administrations have been put forward in the Press and elsewhere, but it has been considered advisable to retain the old and well-known boundaries, at any rate for the present and until circumstances demand a change, more especially because the Northern and Southern Provinces are at present under two different sets of laws, the unification of which must necessarily be a task of magnitude which will take time to effect.

  I had hoped to be able to recommend to the Secretary of State some scheme for a Legislative Council of Nigeria, but at present and until communications by railway are greatly extended the proposition is physically impossible. The Legislative Council of Nigeria, if it is to represent the public opinion of Nigeria, must draw its Unofficial Members alike from Calabar and Lagos in the South, and from the Minefields and Kano in the North. To no place, however central, could the busy merchants and others find time to come in order to attend the Councils meetings. It would be manifestly unjust to place the Mohammedan Emirates of the North and the Mining interests on the Bauchi Plateau under a Council sitting on the Coast, in which they could have no representation. The only alternative is that the Legislative Council of the Colony shall in the future limit its sphere to the guidance and control of the Legislature of the Colony.

   And let me here remind you of the enormous extent of Nigeria, Its area comprises over 330,000 square miles – more than 5 times the size of England and Scotland, or one-third the size of British India. The European population is scattered over this area. The largest community is probably at the Minefields in the Bauchi Province, the next largest at Lagos nearly 1,000 miles distant. There are other centres widely separated from each other at Calabar and other Coast towns, at Zungeru and at Kano, while the Niger Company which has the largest capital of any single firm, has its headquarters at Burutu.

   Other means than a single Legislative Council must therefore be right by which, on the one hand, not only local public opinion of the Principals of the Commercial and Mining. Firms, and of other Institutions which have interests in the country, may be given an opportunity of expressing itself, and on the other hand, that the officers of the ripest experience and the most proved ability may be consulted regarding proposed Legislation and on affairs of moment. To effect these objects the Secretary of State has approved firstly of an Executive Council for Nigeria which shall consist of the senior officers of the whole Administration, secondly, of a deliberative and advisory Council, to be called the Nigerian Council, which shall meet not less often than once a year, and thirdly, that all proposed Ordinances with a few necessary exceptions shall be published in the Gazette for two months prior to enactment, so that opinion may be freely expressed before a law is enacted. 

   The Members of the Executive Council named in the Royal Instructions are:-

   The Lieutenant-Governors of the Southern and Northern Provinces, the Administrator of the Colony, the Attorney-General,  the Director of Railways and Works, the Commandant of the Troops, the Director of Medical Services, the Treasurer, the Director of Marine and the Comptroller of Customs.

   The official Members of the Nigerian Council will include the Members of the Executive Council and all 1st Class Residents or Commissioners, the Central Secretary, the Secretaries in the Northern and Southern Provinces and the Political Secretary. The Unofficial Members will include a member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and of any Chamber of Commerce which may be established in Calabar, and a Member of the Local Chamber of Mines, – all resident in Nigeria and to be nominated by those bodies together with four additional European and six Native gentlemen nominated by the Governor-General. The former to be representative of Commerce, Shipping, Mining and Banking, the latter to be representative of the Native population both of the Coast and of the Interior.

   The Official Membership of the Legislative Council of the Colony has been somewhat altered by the new Royal Instructions, in order that those officers whose work is especially concerned with the Colony may take part in the its deliberations. The they will for the present by the Administrator, the Legal Adviser, the Municipal Engineer, the Senior Municipal Sanitary Officer, the Assistant Treasurer, the Harbour Master, the Commissioner of Lands and the Commercial Intelligence Officer,

The Official Members of the old Council have been re-appointed by His Majesty to the new Council with the exception of Mr. Millar and Dr. Johnson who have resigned and whose places have not yet be filled.

   All three Councils will be presided over by the Governor-General.

   Southern Nigeria was, as you know, divided into three provinces, the Eastern, Central and Western, each under a Provincial Commissioner. In future the Southern Provinces will be nine in number, each of the old Provinces being divided into three. Each Province will be under a Commissioner or Resident assisted by an adequate staff. Departmental officers will be directly under the Head of their own Department.

ImageLord Frederick Lugard

I come now to the Judiciary, concerning which there has I think, been some misapprehension. It was recognized alike by my …… and by the Chief Justice that the extension of Supreme Court jurisdiction into the Interior was inadvisable and, before I came to Nigeria, steps had already been taken to curtail its jurisdiction. Schemes were already under consideration for the creation of separate Courts in the Interior district. These schemes have now matured.

    It is obvious that there can only be one Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and for this high office the Secretary of State has selected Sir Edwin Speed, who has experience in both Northern and Southern Nigeria and has much longer in Nigeria than his colleague Mr. Willoughby Osborne, It gives me great regret that by force of circumstances, the country will lose the valuable services and ripe experience of Mr. Willoughby Osborne, and I am aware of the high estimation in which his services are held both here and at home. In saying good-bye to Nigeria he will have the satisfaction of feeling that he has discharged the functions of his high office with distinguished success. To His Honour Chief Justice Sir Edwin Speed I tender my congratulations on his appointment and I am confident that while he holds his high office, the proud traditions of British Justice will ever be worthily maintained.

   The curtailment of the territorial jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and the creation of Provincial Courts necessitates some changes in the existing law, and I am indebted to Sir Edwin Speed for the drafts of the new Ordinances which, with slight and unimportant alterations, will be enacted to give effect to his proposals. They will involve for the present some diminution in the powers of the Native Courts, but it is my earnest desire to see those Courts advance in ability and to maintain their prestige under purely Native Judges guided and supervised by the Commissioners of Provinces.

   The Scheme of Assizes and the method of conducting the business of the Supreme Court are in accordance with the proposals of the new Chief Justice. In future there will be a Court vacation for four months during the rains, and for the remainder of the year the Court will be in Session with its full complement of one Chief Justice and three or more Puisne Judges. The powers of the Provincial Courts are strictly limited and no sentence of over six months’ imprisonment is operative until it has been confirmed. A Magistracy, whose officers are Commissioners of the Supreme Court is set up for the Northern and Southern Provinces.

   In the sphere of Departmental Administration there are some changes of interest. The Railway, Marine and Customs Departments have already, as you are aware, been centralised as common to both South and Northern Nigeria. They remain outside the local administration of the Northern and Southern Provinces. In addition to these three departments the Judicial, the Military, the Treasury and the Posts and Telegraphs” become Central Departments. The Military Forces are organized into one Regiment with five Battallions and two Batteries under Colonel Carter, C.B, CMG as Commandant, with Lieutenant-Colonel,Cunliffe as Assistant Commandant. Mr. Dale takes charges of the Treasury, and Mr. Somerville of the Posts and Telgraphs. A Director of the Medical Service and an Attorney General will act as Advisers to the Governor-General in their respective Departments. In the former case the Medical Departments of the Northern and Southern Provinces will remain distinct, while two legal Advisers will assist the Lieutenant-Governors who with the Administrator of the Colony, will have separate……… of local business. Mr. Cameron becomes the Secretary for the Central Administration, Major Moorhouse for the Southern and Mr. Matthews for the Northern Provinces.

   His Majesty the King has been pleased to approve of a new Badge for the flag of United Nigeria and  of a new Seal. In future there will be only one Official Gazette.

   This, in brief outline, is the scheme of Amalgamation which takes effect to day. The Gazette Extraordinary published this afternoon will to a large extent fill in the details. It is impossible that any scheme which could have been devised should satisfy all the conflicting theories which have been propounded. The proposals I have made have the merit of simplicity. They cause no great dislocation, which would have been most disadvantageous at a moment of transition when divergent policies and methods have to be reconciled.

   I take this opportunity of publicly informing you that the Secretary of State has approved the construction of a new railway, which starting from the head of the Bonny estuary, will run northwards across the Benue river and join the Lagos Kano Railway where it crosses the Kaduna river some 50 miles South of Zaria. This important work will, I am convinced, enormously add to the wealth and prosperity of Nigeria.

   Already the benefits of the partial Amalgamation, which has been in operation for the past year, have resulted in increased prosperity. The estimated Revenue of 1914 is almost exactly a million sterling greater than the estimated Revenue for 1912. When my predecessor from this chair in 1906 announced the Amalgamation of Southern Nigeria and Lagos he stated that the Revenue of Southern Nigeria was just over a millions. The estimated revenue of Nigeria this year stands at 31 millions, and Trade has increased from 5 millions to nearly 15 millions in this period of under 8 years.

If we remember that it is only fourteen years to-day since the King’s Government assumed control of the greater part of the Interior from the Royal Niger Company, the progress which has been made is astonishing.

   In maintaining and increasing that progress I look to the co-operation of the European and Native races, who must work together for the good of the country. It is and always has been my policy to support the Native Chiefs, and to work through them. I have not invited any of them from the Interior to be present here because the announcement f the new changes which take place to-day is being made in the capitals of the various Provinces throughout Nigeria.

   Today Nigeria enters on a new stage of its progress and we all join in the earnest hope that the era now inaugurated will prove, not only a new departure in material prosperity, but also that the coming years will increase the individual happiness and freedom from oppression and raise the standard of civilization and of comfort of the many millions who inhabit this large country. To these sole ends the effort of my colleagues and myself, with God’s help, will be devoted.


*This document is culled from The Constitution, journal of constitutional development, a publication of the Centre for Constitutionalism and Demilitarisation, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013, pp. 106-114.

Centenary: Not so Grand Finale!

By Martins Oloja

THE so-called grand finale of the year-long centenary celebration, which culminated in last Friday’s award/dinner night in Abuja was a grandiloquent celebration of mediocrity! The other day, a Dutch journalist who has done some works in West Africa and Nigeria had noted in a remarkable article that mediocrity was fast overtaking graft in Nigeria. This newspaper culled the controversial article that was hailed by many readers. I do not have any other word to describe the whole Centenary narrative last weekend, other than a “cerebration of mediocrity”. As a Nigerian, one had expected to see in the grand finale some historical documents and documentaries on Nigeria in the last 100 years. Was it material poverty or poverty of the mind and ideas that deprived the Centenary Committee from doing and publishing something grand, something historic and historical, something remarkable about Nigeria for the young and old, local and foreign observers to see? What has been the highpoint of the year-long celebration? Is the award night the highpoint? Award dominated by all former heads of state? What is the significance of the award to Chief Ernest Shonekan whose Interim National Concoction (Government) was declared illegal by a court? What is the worth of the award to the late General Sani Abacha when the federal government is still recovering some disputed loot in Swiss Banks from his family? Why were there so many obvious and avoidable omissions? Why was the entire civil service omitted from the list of nominees? Those who are familiar with the public service parlance know that “public service” is not a synonym for “civil service” in any material particular. Was the media adequately represented by the late Herbert Macauley, Ernest Sisei Ikoli and Babatunde Jose alone in the last 100 years in Nigeria?


As a journalist and researcher, I had expected the Centenary Celebration Secretariat to have commissioned some experts, historians, political scientists and others to document for us some newsworthy stories often ignored, or never explored in the last 100 years. What is more, why was Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike ignored among historians and pioneers when he was the one who reportedly formed the Historical Society of Nigeria in 1955? Professor Dike was the first Nigerian Principal of the University College of Ibadan. He was the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. He was said to have established the National Archives in 1952 and served as its first Departmental Head as Director. The Society had a colloquium on the Centenary in Abuja. Why didn’t the Centenary Committee commission the Society to do a grand documentation of Nigeria at 100? Even when the Rivers State organized its own Centenary tagged Port Harcourt @ 100 in November, 2013, there was a grand ceremony and it was properly documented in a grander style in a book edited by famous scholars, Professor E.J Alagoa & Judy Nwanodi. The book is entitled, Port Harcourt at 100: Past, Present and Future. Foreword to the book is written by no less a person than a famous History scholar, Patrick Dele Cole, PhD. It is a world-class scholarly document. Why didn’t the presidency borrow a leaf from this worthy effort? More questions!

What is more, I listened to the Masters of Ceremony that handled the grand finale in Abuja and the impression created by their not-so-grand performance was that they were either recruited in some haste or they were briefed to celebrate mediocrity. This is the thing: why couldn’t the MCs recall simple facts about all the former presidents and heads of state that were present there to make the occasion remarkable? In the last 100 years, there have been some landmarks in Nigeria, notably, establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC); building of a brand new capital, Abuja and there are more. But for that occasion, the creator of NYSC, one of the most enduring monuments of unification, General Yakubu was there and he was honoured, yet no one mentioned NYSC. Alas, no MC could link Dr Gowon with this noble effort for the world to see that some of the good old men that have nurtured Nigeria are still alive.

ImageAmalgamation day, Tinubu Street, Lagos

Even Abuja, our Abuja was diminished

ALAS! Even Abuja, Nigeria’s unity capital and major symbol of our unity was never mentioned by any speakers on any of the many ceremonies. What is more, even when the late General Murtala Ramat Muhammed was mentioned for honour, no speaker could associate him for proclaiming Abuja as Nigeria’s capital on February 3, 1976 and legalising it with a decree the following day, (February 4, 1976). It was General Olusegun Obasanjo as then No.2 who reportedly assisted his boss to ‘procure’ Justice Akinola Aguda, a legal luminary and former CJ of Botswana who headed the Presidential Panel that recommended the site of the “Centre of Unity”, Abuja. He (the late Aguda) could not be remembered. Most people are persuaded that the late Aguda too is more historically significant than some of the awardees including even Edwin Clark and Rilwanu Lukman. But then the MCs could not link General Obasanjo who took up the daunting task of building Abuja from scratch. No one remembered Obasanjo who could normally qualify any day for the “last man standing” whenever Nigeria’s unity is discussed. He began the building of Abuja and former President Shehu Shagari reportedly celebrated Nigeria’s independence anniversary in the uncompleted capital in 1980. Besides, democracy returned Obasanjo to power in 1999 and he had yet another opportunity of restoring Abuja to its original Master Plan in 2003 when he was sufficiently angry that the plan had been desecrated: he brought in Malam Nasir el-Rufai, considered to be the right man to do the job of restoration. He did it to everyone’s admiration. The point is that even General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) who actualized the Murtala dream by relocating the capital proper on Thursday, December 12, 1991 was at the award ceremony. Too bad no one remembered the role of Generals Murtala, Obasanjo & IBB in the building of Nigeria’s most significant Monument of Unity since 1914. Why didn’t the Centenary Committee that worked for more than a year remember to give Abuja a separate award? Why was there no colloquium on Abuja either on December 12, 2013 or February 3, 2014 as part of the grand finale? It stands to reason that Abuja, our Abuja, should have been used to showcase the highpoint that the amalgamation of 1914 symbolises. I mean that even the MCs could not recall these historical facts that could have deepened understanding of the journey from 1914 to 2014? Whatever happened to the Committee’s sense of history on this score?

Lest we forget, how could they have honoured Niger Deltans without remembering the significance of Adaka Boro and Ken Saro Wiwa? In this connection, why would the Committee recommend an honour to General Sani Abacha without remembering Henry Townsend and Samuel Ajayi Crowther? What really happened to the simple cognitive power of recall at the Committee? Who else was more pioneering than pioneers such as role models that shaped history before 1914? Even if Townsend who set up the first newspaper in Nigeria in 1859 and Crowther, an Anglican priest who translated the English Bible into Yoruba were irrelevant to the centenary points at issue, what about the pioneer civil servants within the 1914-2014 construct? Why was there no proper civil servant honoured? Why was the name generally associated with the civil service from the Western region, Chief Simeon Adebo omitted? Civil service literature has been constant with the review of journals and books on the evolution of the Nigerianization of the service. And Phillipson-Adebo Commission of 1953 was a testimony that even a serving permanent secretary, Dr Tunji Olaopa cited to justify claims that Simeon Adebo should have been honoured in this context. Olaopa’s article on the centenary of the civil service was published in this newspaper before the grand finale, yet no one read it to correct some anomalies! Curiously, the civil service was not represented in any groups. If there had been research works for the centenary, there would have been discovery of the lacuna that will haunt the organisers for life. They recognized only public servants, no civil servant was honoured. What a rush! Again, why were the armed forces not recognized as the most potent instrument of the Unity that we are celebrating? Is it not a fact that Abuja, the centre of unity was conceived by a military junta, built by a military junta, consolidated and legalized by a military regime? Why didn’t the Committee recognize the gallantry of the armed forces in Nigeria since 1914?



Oh my God, I recall that there have not been many quotable quotes in recent years in Nigeria but no one could have forgotten the often quoted one by General Muhammadu Buhari:

This generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations have no other country than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together.

I just still wonder why no speaker or MC recalled this General’s word on marble when the point at issue at the award night was Nigeria’s Unity. This is one of the reasons, in this connection we have had to intervene with this remarkable compendium to mark the centenary in style for our wonderful readers. Just flip through, read and keep this memorable publication and forget about Abuja’s men afflicted with selected amnesia.

Epilogue: I hope our people will continue to remember Abuja as the major symbol of unity and collective effort to showcase to the world that Nigeria too can build a monument. I hope someone has learned some lessons and picked some architecture in the ruins that this centenary debacle has become. Never again shall we celebrate mediocrity

Martins Oloja can be reached through

Marina… Enduring capital of Lagos Colony

By Tope Templer Olaiya

THIS fact is indisputable in pre-amalgamation, pre-independence and post-independence era, that whenever Lagos sneezes, Nigeria catches cold. 

   Even after Lagos was ceded to the British in 1860 and declared a Crown Colony the following year, the system of governance along the West African coast was miles ahead of other colonies and protectorates. Lagos had its own governor, legislative and executive councils. 

   Attempts by Frederick Lugard to reduce the powers of the colony in 1906 by submerging Lagos into the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, while operating from Calabar, did little to diminish the status of Lagos. Furthermore, what it lacked in quantity (size and landmass), it made up for in quality (enterprise of the mixed bag of population).

   During the 1850s, there was a large influx into Lagos of educated Africans, who had earlier been sold as slaves, from Sierra Leone, Brazil and Cuba. Their return profoundly affected the history of Lagos. The Sierra Leoneans were known as Akus or Saros, the Brazilians and Cubans as Agudas. 

   The Agudas were mainly Catholics, skilled artisans and craftsmen, who had purchased their freedom and returned home to their “country” of origin. The Akus or Saros were slaves (or descendants of slaves) rescued by the British naval squadron that patrolled the high seas.   

   In the 1880s, there were four distinct groups in Lagos – the Europeans, the educated Africans (Saros), the Brazilians and the indigenes. The town was physically divided into four quarters corresponding to these groups. The Europeans lived on the Marina, the Saros mainly west of the Europeans in an area called Olowogbowo, the Brazilians behind the Europeans – their quarter was known as Portuguese Town or Popo Aguda – and the indigenes on the rest of the island – behind all three.

   The composition of populations in Lagos in the 1880s was: Brazilians 3,220; Sierra Leoneans, 1,533; and Europeans 111, out of a population of 37,458. Of these, about 30 percent (11,049) were engaged in commerce as merchants, traders, agents, and clerks; 5,173 were tradesmen, mechanics, manufacturers and artisans; 1,414 were farmers and agricultural labourers.


Carter Bridge completed in 1901 and rebuilt in 1970. It is named after Sir Gilbert Thomas Carter, who was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Lagos from 1891-1897.

The top social class of Lagos of the 1880s was dominated by the Europeans – merchants, missionaries, and civil servants. The Saros tried to gain admission into this class. The criteria for membership were education and wealth. In this sense, the educated elite, both black and white, could be considered as members of the same social group. 

   They lived like Victorian gentlemen. Christmas was a season of Victorian festivities. As one newspaper editor enthused: “Balls are announced and concerts and athletic sports, dinners, with the accessories of plump turkeys, minced pies, plum puddings and Christmas trees. Fineries of all sorts and conditions. All the elite seemed to lack was snow. Their dressing and eating habits were predictably Victorian.” 

   Most of them were profuse in their loyalty to the queen. In 1881, the Lagos Times prayed for the success of British arms in Ashanti. It declared: “we are so jealous of the Power of British arms that we would not have it suffer the slightest reverse.” The Imperial Federation League found enthusiastic support in Lagos. 

   Lifestyles among the indigenes continued as before. They ate the normal Yoruba dishes of maize, cassava, yams and Yoruba sauces. They dressed in the same large flowing cloak, called Agbada, and baggy trousers. The Saro educated elite wore the late London fashions – stiff collars and heavy woolen suits. The traditional elite continued to dress as they had always done but had developed new drinking habits. 

   An observer described Oba of Lagos, Dosunmu as “a good tempered, easy going man, much given to pomp …(he) possessed a hundred wives and innumerable suits of apparel. Visitors are always regaled with Champagne whenever they go to see him and I have heard he kept a most luxurious table.” 

   The governors themselves testified to the high level of civilised society in Lagos. Governor Young in 1885 said Lagos was his first contact with civilisation since he left England. The administrators of Lagos found it impossible to keep up the high level of social entertainment Lagos demanded. And requests for increase in table allowances and salaries were frequent. 

   One-time Governor of the colony, Griffith described Lagos as “the Queen of West African settlements”. He went on: “no single settlement on the West coast can compare with Lagos in public expenditure, imports, and exports, in population or in activity, enterprise, and wealth of her mercantile community. 

   “Her merchants are unbounded in their hospitality. They entertain liberally and place the choicest and most expensive services on their tables. Even the natives will offer champagne to visitors. They keep open house and everywhere a cordial welcome awaits a stranger.” 

   Griffith asked for horses and a carriage because both the white and black merchants had them. The Colonial Office, in one of those priceless minutes, thought mules and a carriage would suit the deputy governor best.

ImageMarina Lagos

Since the ages, Lagos has therefore been predominantly a commercial city. The city of Lagos grew from Lagos Island. The Marina was the “posh” part of the city. The British lived on the Marina and it was also the center of government. Walking down Marina today, relics of post-amalgamation still exist in the old secretariat, Cathedral Church of Christ, State House Marina, Lagos House Marina, among others.

   Of these historic edifices, the Cathedral Church of Christ, which is the oldest Anglican Cathedral in the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion and also one of the finest of cathedrals in Africa, towers above the rest in the preservation of the pre-amalgamation legacy. The famous church, with its imposing grey-coloured cathedral, had long celebrated its centenary, specifically in 1967. 

   The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid on Friday, March 29, 1867 by the then Administrator of Lagos Colony and its dependencies for Queen Victoria, John Hawley Glover. The church was later dedicated for use in 1869. Before then, the place of worship was only mud and thatch. The church revolutionalise brick building in Lagos.

   According to available facts gleaned from church library, the estimated cost of building was 1,100 Pounds, which was contributed from both England and Lagos. At the church’s opening service, James Lamb, the first minister, was assisted by two churchwardens, Henry Doherty and John Ogunbunmi.

   Members of the congregation, comprising elites in Lagos and school children sand to the hymn The Stone To Thee In Faith We Lay, paving the way for the inaugural sermon preached by Bishop Ajayi Crowther, known in history books as the man who translated the Bible from English to Yoruba language.