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Nigeria : How Her National Identity Problem Started

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Nigeria : How Her National Identity Problem Started

Nigeria : How Her National Identity Problem Started


Written By Paul Tosin ©

On January 1, 1914, Lord Frederick Lugard, the governor of both the Northern and Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Colony, signed a document consolidating for the two nations becoming one, thereby creating the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

Forty-six years later in 1960, Nigeria became an independent state because of the great oppressing hand from the colonists; they only fought to get their freedom from the oppressor which they ought to have fought for their nation now split regional.

Anniversaries are times for reflection and given that today, just over 106 years after annexation and amalgamation, the country is still grappling with its national identity and a reanimated separatist movement because the worth reflection on how exactly Nigeria became Nigeria never worth but it is done in a selfish interest of the protectorate and the colony.

Before Europeans arrived in the territory that is now Nigeria, numbers of different civilizations existed whose presence is still felt missed today.

For example, in the north, Islam was predominant. In the nineteenth century, there were two Islamic empires, the Sokoto Caliphate and the Bornu Empire.

To the southwest lay numerous Yoruba city-states that generally had in common animist religion and were only sometimes united.

Nigeria : How Her National Identity Problem Started

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To the southwest were an Igbo kingdom, Nri, and a collection of semi-autonomous towns and villages in the Niger River delta.

Such regions were linguistically, religiously, and politically distinct.

While other colonial powers, such as the Portuguese, became involved in the region by way of the slave trade as early as the fifteenth century, the British arrived in force and oppressive hand only in the eighteenth century.

It was not until 1861 that they formally occupied their first Nigerian territory, Lagos, in a bid to protect Christian converts and trading interests, and to further their anti-slavery campaign.

In 1884, the British occupied what would later become the Southern Protectorate and the Northern Protectorate piecemeal from 1900 to 1903.

By 1903, the British controlled the territory that comprises modern-day Nigeria, but as three separate administrative blocks.

As early as 1898, the British considered combining the then-three protectorates to reduce the administrative burden on the British and allow the rich south to effectively subsidize the much less economically prosperous north.

(The Lagos colony was later incorporated into the Southern Nigeria Protectorate for budgetary reasons).

This is what Lord Lugard was referring to in his infamous description of how a marriage between the “rich wife of substance and means” (the south) and the “poor husband” (the north) would lead to a happy life for both. Some have suspected that Lugard was also referring to the political supremacy of the north over the south.

The name “Nigeria” was coined by the future Lady Lugard in an 1897 London Times article.

With Lord Lugard’s arbitrary conception of Nigeria in mind, one can begin to see the many and varied problems colonialism created in Nigeria, across West Africa, and around the world.

Not least among these problems for Nigeria in particular was the problem of a unifying national identity.

It is no wonder that diverse peoples, forcibly united into single states, sometimes turn to separatism. Contemporary examples range from Biafra (Nigeria) to Ambazonia (Cameroon) to Somaliland (Somalia), and to Azawad (Mali).

It is now the Yoruboid to fight for Odua Republic, divorce from her unpleasant and total unaware marriage that is ruining her life.

Maybe Nigeria should be Recolonized by the British after this Coronavirus pandemic and each nation state should be given independence afterwards

Paul Tosin is a political analyst and the founder of youth generation changer


Naijalikeplay is on Facebook


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