Saturday, April 1, 2023
HomeOpinionNigeria's March Towards Independence: The Struggles,the Triumphs & Challenges By Jimoh Ibrahim

Nigeria’s March Towards Independence: The Struggles,the Triumphs & Challenges By Jimoh Ibrahim

- Advertisement -

Niger area ‘(a suggestion of Late Flora Lugard),better known as ‘ Federal Republic of Nigeria ‘ in the Comity of Nations,the 8th largest producer of petroleum in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC),the largest economy in Africa (in Gross Domestic Product term),the most populated black Nation on earth, started off far back in time as a segmented landmass of different Nations with divergent cultural values and political colourations.The Hausa -Fulanis ( who descended from Bayajjida,the son of Abu Yazida,a Prince in Baghdad,Iraq), in the North with Emirate Political System,the Yorubas ( who originated from Oduduwa,a royal migrant from the Arabian peninsula ) in the West with a flourishing Old Oyo Empire and the Igbos( traceable to the mythological Bumama) in the East with’ ohacratic ‘ Village Assembly,among others.Inspired by the Berlin Conference of late 19th Century characterized by Scramble for Africa,the major geographical divides of the continent were shared among prominent European powers resulting in West African sub-region fallen under the spheres of France and Britain.Nigeria had her first dosage of colonialism in 1851 ,when Eko( later known as Lagos) under the rulership of Oba Kosoko( a descendant of Oba Ado,the son of Ashipa, an uncrowned king and a regent of Oba Benin) was overrun by the imperialist British forces.The dosage of colonialism was formalized and well pronounced with the historical annexation of Lagos in 1861 under the Obaship of Dosunmu ( a descendant of Erelu Kuti,a daughter of Oba Ado).The molten magma of British colonialism spread with astonishing speed from Lagos to Abeokuta,Abeokuta to Calabar and from Calabar to the North.Under the auspices of Goldie Tubman’s defunct Royal Niger Company (which later metamorphosed into United Africa Company,UAC),it met a fertile soil in the North.The Northern and Southern segments later became known as Protectorates ( a subtle title of imperialism) while Lagos,the first port of call, was tagged a Colony.In 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were brought together on the altar of political convenience and economy rather than quest for true political unity ( in what has become known as ‘amalgamation’) under the Governorship of Frederick Lugard, a war veteran,an Anthropologist of note and celebrated author of the famous book ‘Dual Mandate in Tropical Africa ‘.

At inception,a few Southern traditional nationalists attempted to roll back the incursion of colonialism into the land.These included King Pepple of Bonny Kingdom,King Jaja of Opobo Kingdom,King Nana of Itshekiri Kingdom and Oba Ovonramwen of Benin Kingdom.Their defiance met with the British colonialists’ cannons and eventual dethronement.Armed with Western education,enlightened nationalists took up gauntlet of the roll back on return into the country from overseas.Prominent among these were Herbert Macaulay ( grandson of Samuel Ajayi Crowther),Ernest Okoli,J. Vaughan, Nnamdi Azikiwe( Owelle of Onitsha) and Obafemi Awolowo ).They employed newspapers such as West African Pilot,Lagos Daily News,Morning Post and Tribune to engage colonialism.Further,political parties were formed in quick succession as vehicles for political agitation-Nigerian Youth Movement(NYM,1934),Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP, 1923),National Council of Nigeria & the Cameroons( NCNC,1944),Action Group(AG,1951) and Northern People’s Congress ( NPC,1951).Consistent agitation within, invigorated by the external influences of Pan-African movement of African-Americans like Marcus Aurelius Garvey and William Bhuggart Dubois , the self-determination principle of United Nations Atlantic Charter ,the support of the British Labour Party,the independence of India in 1947,inter alia, gave way to constitutional and political reforms.

As Nigeriatologists have contended,colonisation of the country was indeed an epochal phenomenon with far-reaching consequences,both positive and negative.On one hand,it opened the vortex of Nigeria to Western values and systems typified by Britain leading to the introduction of money currency,financial institutions,bureaucracy,democracy,Western education,hospitals,mechanised farming,modern housing,adoption of English language as a medium of communication,among others.On the other hand,it has wrecked an incalculable havoc on Nigerian indigenous values and systems as evolving peoples.It has eroded the confidence of Nigerians in their valuable cultural heritage and practices.Anything Nigeria is deemed inferior,everything Western -even if it idiotic and useless -is considered superior.Nigeria as a political community and Nigerians as peoples are left dangling like a pendulum which is neither here nor there.The inheritors of the modern Nigerian state,the newly emergent educated political gladiators who fought to colonialism in the land to a standstill ought to have embarked upon a fundamental social re-engineering and restructuring of the mere geographical expression dubbed ‘Nigeria’ with all its incongruous elements.

No doubt,we have recorded some achievements since independence such as infrastructural development (ports complexes,flyovers,skyscrapers),improved communications and transportation,increase in population,boundary readjustment (called state creation),robust foreign policy etc.However,since the 80s,we have had a new wave of home-grown colonialism -the colonisation of Nigerians by Nigerians,the domination of Nigerians by Nigerians characterised by ‘government of the few recycled kleptomaniacs by the few recycled kleptomiacs and for the few recycled kleptomaniacs’.Today, there is no denying the fact that the onerous tasks of nation building and meaningful development are still staring us in the face.The old infrastructures are decaying,roads are death traps,power supply is epileptic,lives and property are unsecured,the purchasing power an average worker has been eroded by inflationary spiral (take home pay hardly takes him home);Andrews check out in droves in the face of disappointment ,failed electoral promises and despondency,educational standard is falling,youths are unemployed,those employed are underpaid,health system is in dire straits,poverty increases at an alarming rate ( an Island of few super rich in an ocean of paupers living below a N100 in a day),corruption is still deeply entrenched in the land,among a host of others.If the self-proclaimed change agents failed to effect the desired change,then the people should be ready to change the change agents.After all governance is a social contract.Indeed,Nigerian masses need to take the bull by the horn to wrench themselves from the new wave of home-grown colonialism ravaging the land.God bless Nigeria.
[01/10, 2:08 PM] nj: Therefore,in 1922 the British colonialists were forced to introduce Clifford Constitution( named after Hugh Clifford,the Governor,Lugard’s successor).Many others followed suit: Bourdillon Constitution (1939, buried before operation),Richard Constitution (1946,named after Arthur Richard),MacPherson Constitution(1951,named after John MacPherson) and Lytlleton Constitution (1954,named after Oliver Lyttleton ,then Secretary of State for the Colonies ).Preparatory to decolonization,both Western and Eastern regions were granted self-government.The Western region clearly demonstrated the ‘can do ability’, ingenuity and avowal readiness of Nigerians to take charge of their affairs with the introduction of Western Nigerian Television (WNTV,the first television station in Africa,now NTA 3,Ibadan),establishment of Bodija Housing Estate(Ibadan) and Ikeja Industrial Estate (the first modern housing estate and industrial estate in Africa,respectively),construction of Liberty Stadium,Ibadan (now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium,the first modern stadium in Nigeria),adoption of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and institution of scholarship scheme for brilliant indigent students ( the first of its kind in Nigeria which produced many Professors of today and put Western Nigeria in the forefront of education).In 1959,the Northern region had her own self-government.On 1st October,1960,the entire country was granted political independence.The British union jack of enslavement was lowered for the Taiwo Akinkunmi designed-green -white -green of great hopes and expectations of a newly emergent modern African state.The obvious vestiges of British colonialism were obliterated with the attainment of republican status in 1963,whereby the Queen of England ceased to be Head of the Nigerian State represented by the first indigenous Governor-General ,Nnamdi Azikiwe( who thereafter became a ceremonial President).Also,the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London ceased to be the last desk for adjudication of legal matters in Nigeria.

- Advertisement -

Admittedly,Nigeria is independent of foreign rule but the Nigerian dream conceived at independence and Nigerian project initiated afterwards are from being realised and consummated,respectively.Ideological rivalry,greed and personality clashes prevented the inheritors of newly independent Nigeria in the 60’s to establish the Nigeria of our dream ,leading to Western Nigerian crisis of 1962,electoral rigging in the mid-60s and the first military coup of 1966 (when the trio of Kaduna Chukwuma Nzeogwu,Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Ademoyega truncated the First Republic ).Apart from Muritala regime (1975-1976),years of military interregna in independent Nigeria were a great disaster,the few achievements recorded during the period nonetheless.Corruption was officially enacted on the Nigerian landscape,economic policies of frightening scare ( SAP ,IMF loan) and fundamentally destructive talons were etched on the Nigerian soil,democratisation was brutally castrated,individual liberty was frozen beyond redemption.

- Advertisement -

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles