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OPINION: Is Amalgamation Of Northern And Southern Protectorates In 1914 A Blessing?

It was all colourful and fun on Friday, October 1 as Nigeria marked her 61st Independence Day Anniversary. The country is blessed with three distinguished ethnic groups (The Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo) that have practically lived together since 1914 when the North and South was amalgamated. 

Not only that, the country has other minority groups that have coexisted with the three major ethnic groups and their respective languages, culture and tradition. Indubitably, Nigeria's independence came as a result of the sweat and toil of nationalists who paid the supreme price for the country to be independent of its political, economic, cultural and religious affairs. 

Photo credit: Vanguard

It is worthy of note that before independence, the present-day Nigeria was a colony of the Great Britain through the Royal Niger company that took charge of the then Northern and Southern Protectorates. As a matter of fact, the North and South were two distinctive regions with their own systems of government and way of life. It was not until in 1914 that the then Governor General, Lord Frederick Lugard amalgamated the various existing groups of people and territories into a politico-economic union known as Nigeria today. Since then, Nigeria has passed through thick and thin for the past decades, yet the country remains one indivisible and independent entity. 

Again, in 1919, Sir Hugh Clifford took over from Lord Lugard as Governor of Nigeria and made certain changes in the then constitution (1922) to improve on the "Lugardian system" of governing the new country that emerged from the two Protectorates. However, before Clifford left office in 1926, he expressed doubt about the capacity and capability of the Nigerian to rule or govern his country. He rebuked the excesses and claims of such politicians as dared to suggest that self-government or independence was desirable. 

Photo credit: Punch

At this point, based on the foregoing, it is debatable to say that Nigeria has come a long way from British rule to where Nigeria is today. It is shocking to know that the situation of things in the country has drastically changed and why the question: is the amalgamation of the Northern Protectorate and Southern Protectorate to create the modern-day Nigeria a blessing? 

Meanwhile, in some quarters, it has been argued that the resolution that brought Southern and Northern Nigeria together in 1914 is the basis of the problems we are facing as a nation. The aforementioned point has been debated by political analysts and commentators, yet it is not clear that the amalgamation is the problem of the country. But bad leadership and 'followership.'

Against this background, this article would discuss some of the benefits of amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates to form Nigeria and how far we have been after independence to justify the aforementioned question.

Why The Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates Is A Blessing

It Promotes Unity:

It is a known fact that Nigeria as an independent nation has been a unifying force since the then Governor-General Lord Lugard took office in 1914. In that case, he established several central institutions to anchor the evolving unified structure in the country. An official report has it that a central secretariat was established in Lagos, which was the seat of government then. The Nigerian Council (later the Legislative Council) was founded to provide a forum for representatives drawn from the provinces. 

Photo of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello (used to represent the unity of Nigeria) Credit: Naijaloaded

In that regard, certain services in the Northern and Southern Provinces were merged for effective management of resources and government. This is because those services were of national significance. It may interest you to know that such services included the military, treasury, audit, posts and telegraphs, railways, survey, medical services, judicial and legal departments etc. The foregoing was brought under the control of the Central Secretariat in Lagos.

Interestingly, the aforementioned structure still stands as a unifying element for the progress and unity of Nigeria. Although things have changed slightly in the past decades. For instance, Lagos is no longer Nigeria's seat of government as it was moved to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during the military government of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida on December 12, 1991.

Tolerance Despite Coming From Different Backgrounds, Religion And Culture:

This is one of the interesting things that makes one a proud Nigerian because being together as a people of common history, Nigerians have learned to tolerate each other despite our diversity and backgrounds, religion, political views, culture and the likes. For instance, the Northern part of the country is mostly dominated by Muslims, yet they live together in harmony and understanding with their Christian brothers and sisters. Although Christians in some parts of the North are faced with some challenges and persecution for some reasons. But things are always in control through intervention by the government and security agencies. 

Self-Identity Among Citizens In Nigeria And Around The World:

Nigerians have been given an identity by the virtue of being a citizen of Nigeria, and this is evident anytime and when they find themselves in the midst of other nationals. As a matter of fact, the Nigerian national symbols like the national flag, national anthem etc. are what makes a Nigerian distinguished from others anywhere in the world. It is arguable to say that the above submission makes it a thing of privilege and pride for one to be identified as a Nigerian despite the numerous circumstances that we have found ourselves in. 

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera

Although there have been some political disagreements which the three major ethnic groups are still battling with today, it has always been a cat and mouse relationship in which every ethnic group tries to outsmart one another based on their personal beliefs and their point of view on certain issues. 

Having said that, it could be concluded that as we continue to journey together as Nigerians and as a country, it should not be the usual treachery and deceit but a time to reflect on the journey so far and where we want to be in the next couple of years. To that effect, the question remains: is the amalgamation of 1914 a blessing after the aforementioned impacts?

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