This book is a must-read for every Nigerian; it’s one of the best books I read so far about Nigerian history, devoid of any polemics.
The Author delves into Nigerian history from the pre-colonial era down to the post-colonial period.
The Author asserted that if India was ‘the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, Nigeria was the heir apparent to the throne. Shortly, Nigeria will become the country with the third-largest English speakers in the world.
The Royal Niger Company (RNC) exercised vast powers and played a pivotal role in the events that led to the formation of Nigeria.
In 1900 Britain created two countries with similar-sounding names. The protectorate of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. For 14 years, these two countries were separately governed by different high commissioners.
These two colonies had different colonial personnel, legal systems, land tenure laws, educational policies, and systems of governance.
The 1914 amalgamation and the fault lines between North and South remain among the most contentious issues in contemporary Nigeria. More than 106 years after amalgamation, the wisdom of this step is still being debated in Nigeria, and the country is still grappling with how to deal with the divisions between north and south and the mutual paranoia they often have about each other.
The most unforgettable eruption of instability in Nigeria emerged on a north-south basis; the military coups of 1966, the civil war of 1967-1970, the annulment of the presidential election of June 12, 1993, and the crisis over Sharia law in the early 2000s. Each has polarised the country on north and south lines.
With no overriding ideological principle behind Nigeria’s creation, it has been left to Nigeria’s post-colonial governments to find ways to rationalize the 1914 amalgamation.
In conclusion, it is noted that the colonial government’s priority was not to create a new nation with a common ethos.
The priority of colonial office officials was to minimize the financial burden to the British taxpayer, reduce bureaucratic duplication and maximize revenue. In this regard, it succeeded from a British perspective.
Nigeria was just a page in a colonial accounting ledger. But Nigerians have not been able to put a definitive statement nor marker on who they are, or want to be!