Nigeria Under Europe

Nigeria Under Europe

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Lagos in 1470 and visited Benin in 1472. The initial intention was trading and especially in slaves.

Lagos was declared a colony in 1862 and was administered from Freetown from 1866 to 1874 and then from Accra from 1876 to 1886.     

In 1879 the United Africa Company (UAC) was formed by four of the largest British farms operating on the Niger and in 1882 the National African Company (NAC) took over the UAC. By 1884 NAC had signed more than seventy treaties with local rulers on both banks of the Niger up to Lokoja.

The treaties indicated that Nigerians ceded the whole of their territory to the NAC and their administrators, forever. Therefore a London Gazette in 1887 announced the extension of the British protectorate to include “all territories in the basin of the Niger and it affluent, which are or may be for the time being subject to the government of the NAC (Dyson, 1998:5).

For many years to come RNC company met strong resistance from the local people that opposed to its trade monopoly and strong political influence. As a result of this opposition, the British government revoked the charter of the Royal Niger Company (formal NAC).

In 1900 the British government took over the administration of the Niger Coast Protectorate and merged it with the area south of Idah and called it Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. The area controlled by the Royal Niger Company north of Idah was proclaimed the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria.                                                                                                                 

The colony and protectorate of Lagos was merged with protectorate of southern Nigeria in 1906, to form colony and protectorate of southern Nigeria. In 1914 the protectorate of Northern Nigeria and the colony and the protectorate of Southern Nigeria were merged to form the colony and protectorate of Nigeria with Fredrick Lugard as governor- general.

Lugard introduced indirect rule to the whole country. In this case power is shared between the British government and the traditional rulers. In the south the British rule was direct, the Christian missionaries were encourage to expand both the religions and educational activities.           

In the north was indirect rule, and there was also no interference with the spread of Islam and their political system. The result was a disparity in the economic and educational development between the North and the South. In 1899 Nigeria was divided into three zones.                         

The Royal Niger Company (RNC) controlled the Northern Protectorate of Nigeria, the British foreign office controlled the Niger Coast Protectorate and colonial office controlled Lagos.

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