The Invalidity of the 1914 Amalgamation and Pertinent Reasons for It’s Discontinuity Sequel to it’s Expiration

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By Obi Chidiebere Emmanuel

The mission and mandate to unite the two colonies being the Southern and Northern Nigeria by frederick Lugard, on appointment as Governor-General was quite controversial in lagos, where it was opposed by a large section of the political class and the media and it did not arouse any major interest in the rest of the country.

 

 

The two colonies continued until may 9, 1913, when lord Lugard submitted his proposal to bring together the two protectorates to the british government. His dream came to reality on the 1st of January, 1914 when his proposal was approved. As such, the two territories were joined to become one.

There is no iota of doubt, in discussing the very pertinent reasons for the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates as a one colony under the rule of the british. Economic purposes, are the prior reasons. Before the southern protectorate at the time, generated more than enough revenue for its territory due to its proximity to the sea while the northern protectorate did not generate just enough. The North are in possession of majority of the lands while the south had an abundance of minerals, enterprising citizens and had access to oceans. But weren’t in possession of the diversity of lands that the North offered. What Lugard and the entire British government saw in Nigeria over a century ago has not changed. The top reason for amalgamation was the maximum profit and administrative convenience of the British government.

The latest book titled “What Britain did to Nigeria” written by Mr siollun, caught my attention in one of the articles which states ‘The mistake of 1914’. It express vividly, factual knowledge of the 1914 amalgamation. Mr siollun declared that, perhaps no question makes Nigerians disagree as much as why Britain created their country. Nigerians looking for deeper meaning of their country’s existence may be disappointed to find that there was none.

The two colonies being the Northern and southern protectorates were quite different and their disparities and contradictions are quite gargantuan. They had differnt colonial personnel, legal systems, land tenure laws, educational policies and systems of governance. Their eventual amalgamation on 1 january 1914 was not sudden. It was the culmination of a process that, as we have seen, began 16 years earlier with the recommendation of the Niger commitee. There are some british account of the difference between the people in the two Nigerians mentioned. The inhabitants of Northern Nigeria which are called or described as the black-faced Mohammedan Arabs were very different from the coast negroes which are the southern Nigerians. Sir George Goldie, who advocated the amalgamation of the southern and northern Nigeria, admitted that the two countries were as widely seperated government, customs, general ideas about life, both world and the next. Since Britain was aware of the sharp differences between them both, why did it decide to amalgamate them anyways? This is a question that has an obvious answer.


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The underlying factors for the union are:

  1. The mere need to make the wealth and seaport facilities of the south available to the north, and
  2. To eliminate the exixting administrative barrier, costing the british much financial inputs in the running of Northern region which hitherto had depended on the imperial treasury. Prior to this period, legislative business was only noticeable in the lagos colony, though the existing legislative capacity were found to be inadequate for the whole of the new Nigeria with its diverse components. It, therefore became a policy option for Lugard to create a broader and effective legislative body to facilitate the participation and adequate representation of all the segments of the Nigerian society.

 

    WHETHER THE 1914 AMALGAMATION IS A TREATY;

According to wikipedia, A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by ‘Soverign’ states and International organizations. A treaty is also known as an International agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms.

The amalgamation of the two countries/protectorates being the southern and northern protectorates concomitantly, requires that a legally binding treaty or agreement took place in the year 1914, or antecedently between the two representatives of the divergent protectorates which resulted to its integration. Taking a deep view at the southern protectorate, the southern protectorate is segmented or consists of various ethnic groups, such as the Igbos who resides or are manjorly populated in the south eastern part. Current states in the south eastern part are; Enugu, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, E.T.C.

The yorubas, very well known as the oduduwa tribe who resides and are majorly populated in the south western part of Nigeria. Current states are; Ogun, Lagos, Ibadan, E.T.C.

The south-south geopolitical zone which majority of them are also from the Igbo tribe but were disseminated and bestrewed by the British colonial masters and birthing them a whole different new name and identity such as Delta, Benue, Rivers, Bayelsa states E.T.C. for a firm purpose of inculcating division, confusion as to enable a smooth exploitation, expand the imperial rule and colonise at will.

A pertinent question to ask is whether the 1914 amalgamation is a legally binding treaty and an agreement between two divergent colonies towards becoming a nation. As the writer earlier expounded above, the sole reason/aim of the british in arriving Africa is for the exploitation of raw materials and the under-development of Africa, the conversion of the antecedent customs, system of governance and colonization of the people. Lord Lugard’s submission of his proposal to bring together the two protectorate which was subsequently approved on the 1st of January, 1914 and which took a unilateral decision without the approval of the representatives of divergent tribes in the southern protectorates and representatives of the northern protectorates, is what is today regarded as a legally binding treaty and agreement.

This is a violation of the International laws in regards to the precise and definite meaning of what a treaty is.

According to professor Rasheed Olaniyi, “There was no treaty for the amalgamation of 1914. There was nothing like a treaty. Who represented who and where? These are the questions we need to ask.

Who represented the southern or the northern province at that time? If at all there was something like that, it was imposed because one, there were differences in terms of the various resources of the various sections of the country by that time. So, there was a need to balance the budget in order to facilitate the provision of infrastructure for economic exploitation; there was a need to fund the railway, the customs, to fund so many other aspects of governance by that time”. He further expounded that there was nothing like agreement, it was imposed by the colonial state. As a matter of fact, the first time that the Nigerian political class met and discussed was 1947 and that was when Nigeria legislative council or the house of representatives was constituted in 1947.

Subsequently they met 1953, 1954 and 1955. So, they met at different points in lagos, there was a conference in Ibadan where all of them met, there was also a conference in london where they met and discussed various Issues affecting Nigeria as far as the colonization and state government was concerned. So, they met not before 1947. It was the first time. The three legislative councils, the western province, the Northern province, then the Eastern province. So that was the first time they met.

Perusing the archival documents and accounts of historians and commentators, they all yielded no testimony to the perpetually acclaimed 100 years severance or ouster clause of the amalgamation. There was no timeline or timescale in the matter of the amalgamation.

According to professor Rasheed Olaniyi; ‘There was no time line, no time frame, no deadline. Not even 100 years’.

Not to forget, the girlfriend/wife of Lord Lugard who as it was said, coined the name or gave the name ‘NIGERIA’, wrote various articles numbered at twenty-one (21) or more. In all of her articles written in regards to her stay in Nigeria, as a reporter, Journalist and even a wife to Lord Lugard, the imposed systems of governments on the Indigenes E.T.C, she did not write, discuss nor attest to the fallacious Illusions of the 1914 amalgamation.

If there was a table turn, and eventually the 1914 amalgamation is a treaty participated by the various Indigenous representatives on the grounded evidence that six persons signed, approved, attended and participated in the agreement of the Integration of the provinces,

The six Nigerians which are;

  1. HRH Maiturare Sarkin Mussulumi and Sultan of Sokoto
  2. Usman Dan maje who later became Emir of Kano
  3. Sir Kitoyi Ajasa a Lawyer
  4. HRH Oladugbolu Alaafin of Oyo
  5. HRH R Henshaw (Obong of Calabar)
  6. Abubakar Shehu of Borno.

A relevant question to be asked at this Instance, is why is/are there no South-Easterner or a prominent representative of the South-East amongst the Nigerians who signed for the Integration.

Article 31 of the Vienna convention which provides for the general rule of Interpretation states thus;

“A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose”.

If the 1914 amalgamation which was branded as a treaty, signed by two Independent Nations waseventually factual, the agreement provides for a time limit of 100 years and that the provinces can disintegrate if the union is unfavorable to either one of the party or them both. It should be noted that the 31st of December 2013, as legally agreed, was the expiration of the amalgamation. As such, from the 1st of January 2014, Nigeria no longer exists because the life span of the amalgamation treaty has elapsed, and the ethnic nationalities were free to declare autonomy for themselves.

 

        PERTINENT REASONS FOR IT’S DISCONTINUITY

Nigeria became Independent on the 1st of October 1960, which was advocated and fought for by prominent men of the three main tribes of Nigeria. Subsequently after its Independence and the emanation of military rule from January 15, 1966, in which Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi, was in power, up-until after his assassination and he’s being swept off the stage and the Northern rebels refusing to accept the authority of Brigadier Ogundipe who was the man next to Ironsi and the refusal of Colonel Adebayo, who was next to Ogundipe but Instead Insisted on having Lt-Colonel Gowon because he was a Northerner.

This action alone smeared the military class with ethnic chauvinism and thus culminated in the violation of the order of discipline observed in military conducts. In that order, Lt-Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the military Governor of Eastern Nigeria resisted or rather denounced the legitimacy of Gowon’s leadership. The plans and it’s activation to disintegrate, flamed up after the massacre and killings of christians, in which majority of them are south-easterners. These greusome acts resulted to the returning of the south-easterners, mostly Igbos back to the south-east and after several failed contractual agreement between Lt-Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu and Yakubu Gowon most especially ‘The Aburi Conference’ which Yakubu Gowon, the military head of state, breached resulted to the declaration of the Independent State of BIAFRA on the 31st of may 1966.

 

             THE GENOCIDAL ACT OF 1967 – 1970

The war began at 5:38am on July 6, 1967 when the federal troops advanced into two columns into BIAFRA. Lt. Gado Nasko fired the first Artillery shots in Garkem, present- day Cross- river state.

This Genocidal Act perpetrated by Nigeria  and aided by divergent European countries most especially Britain, claimed over 3.5 million lives of Ndi Igbo. It is believed that every Igbo household lost at least a relation to war. The war which should have been a military battle between two opposing entities, annexed to the Nigerian military force killing and raping women, maiming and starving young children for three years as the war lasted. This belligerent and preposterous act by the Nigerian forces is a violation of the fundamental and Inherent rights of a human being as enshrined in the United Nations charter and similarly, in the African Charter.

“Article 76(c) of the UN Charter, provides to encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”.

Article 4 of the African Charter, provides for the right to life.

The British’s Involvement in this preposterous act of Ethnic cleansing is quite appalling, and they should be held responsible for the arbitrary death of Innocent civilians. The Igbos residing at the south-eastern part of Nigeria, are entitled to the payment of reparations by Nigeria and Britain. These acts perpetrated to suppress the BIAFRANS and keep them Integrated and in union as an entity is a violation of their right to self determination. The act of enacting an obstacle and stopping the passage of food meant for women and children during the war, was a strategic means enacted by the british and Nigeria, in other to suppress the Biafrans and either cleanse them all away from the surface of the earth or make them surrender.

Excluding/Exempting the belligerent acts of the British/Nigeria in the attempt of ethnic cleansing the Igbos/Biafrans, another pertinent reason for the discontinuity of the imposed 1914 amalgamation, otherwise called the forced union, is the “Marginalization of the Igbos in political affairs”. Subsequently after the war as it is called, and the surrender of the Biafran forces to the Nigerian forces, the state of Biafra was dissolved and Integrated back as Nigeria. The Igbos, were still marginalized and treated as slaves precedently after the war, and up until this day.

Federal character principle is defined as a doctrine ensuring the political equality of the three main tribes of Nigeria, eradicating tribalism, and upholding the rule of law.

Section 153(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) provides for the Establishment of certain federal executive bodies In which the Federal character commission is one of them.

Section 158(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), provides for the Independence of certain bodies, in which the Federal character commission is one of them.

Not withstanding these sections of the Nigerian constitution as enumarated above, the Igbos are still being marginalized politically and divergent other manners. The circular political rotation of the office of the president as agreed, is still not abided to.

 

           IT’S REVITALIZATION OR DISCONTINUITY

Sequel to the expiration of the 1914 amalgamation on the 31st of December 2013, the revitalization or discontinuity of the union, is the fundamental right of the citizens to decide.

Article 3 of the United Nations Charter provides for the right to self determination. It states thus; “Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

It should also be reminded that Nigeria is a signatory to this charter. The agitations and protests by the Biafrans up until this day, for the freedom and Independence of the state of Biafra, is one of their Impeccable and Inherent right supported by the UN charter through the process of referendum.

The expiration of the amalgamation makes it legally available as previously contracted on or before the 1st of January 1914 for the two protectorates or provinces to dissolve it if the union is not favourable to both or any of them.

 

 

WRITTEN BY: OBI CHIDIEBERE EMMANUEL

FACULTY OF LAW ESUT

300 LEVEL



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1 Response

  1. Riri says:

    An eye opening piece

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