I HAVE just finished reading a book: What Britain Did To Nigeria by Max Siollun, who is an authority on issues that affect Nigeria. Mr Siollun has written several books on Nigeria, including Soldiers Of Fortune, Nigeria Politics from Buhari to Babangida and Nigeria’s Soldiers of Fortune-The Abacha and Obasanjo Years.
Expectedly his latest book: What Britain Did To Nigeria is very educative and informative, the 390page book is published by C.Hurst & Co.(Publishers) Ltd.
One of the articles in the book which caught my attention is titled “The Mistake of 1914”. The article summarises what one should know about Nigeria on the amalgamation that took place in 1914. Mr Siollun declared: “Perhaps no question makes Nigerians disagree as much as why Britain created their country.
Nigerians looking for deeper meaning for their country’s existence may be disappointed to find that there was none. Nigeria’s existence is little more than the outcome of balancing the colonial accounting books. In 1900 Britain created two countries with similar-sounding names. These were the protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria.
“For 14 years these two countries were separately governed by different high commissioners. Lugard was Britain’s first high commissioner for Northern Nigeria and Sir Ralph Moor was his counterpart in Southern Nigeria.
The two colonies had different colonial personnel, legal systems, land tenure laws, educational policies and systems of governance. Their eventual amalgamation on January 1, 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 Committee.
Although Lugard is credited as being the architect of Nigeria’s amalgamation, the process started long before he became Northern Nigeria’s high commissioner or the governor-general of the combined Nigeria in 1914.
These jolly laughing trading Black men
“Some British accounts of the differences between the people in the two Nigerians mentioned (with the usual poor a anthropological insight of that era) that ‘the inhabitants of Northern Nigeria are very different from the coast Negroes [Southern Nigeria]’ and flippantly described northerners as ‘black-faced Mohammedan Arabs with an admixture of negro strain’ and southerners as ‘these jolly laughing trading black men’.
Although this is a very simplistic summary, others offered a more realistic assessment. Sir George Goldie, who advocated the amalgamation of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, admitted that the two countries were ‘as widely separated government, customs, and general ideas about life, both world and the next, as England is from China’. Since Britain was aware of the sharp differences between the two Nigeria’s, why did it decide to amalgamate them anyway?
“Just as British entry into Nigeria was motivated by economic reasons, so was its amalgamation into one country. The duplication of finances and personnel in running two separate colonies in the same area was an impediment to administrative efficiency. The need for British colonies to be self-financing made amalgamation a priority.
Since Northern Nigeria had no coastline and was landlocked, it did not receive customs duties, as Southern Nigeria did. This disadvantage was exacerbated because Northern Nigeria imported goods from Southern Nigeria duty-free, and its costs for transporting its goods to Southern Nigeria for export were also high.
Since Southern Nigeria received customs duties and Northern Nigeria did not, a small percentage of customs revenue from the former was sent to the latter. Yet this was not enough to offset Britain’s cost of administering Northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria had been running on a budget deficit for ten years, during which time its revenue was not enough to meet even half its cost of administration.
“As a result the British Treasury paid grants-in-aid to Northern Nigeria (totalling over £4 million) in the 14 years of its existence. These were non- refundable payments rather than loans, and were in addition to the £865,000 that the Treasury paid to the Royal Niger Company as compensation for the revocation of its charter.
Such dependency on the Treasury could not continue. Lugard tried to raise revenue by imposing taxation on Northern Nigeria but it was not enough. As early as 1904 he argued: ‘Northern Nigeria is as yet largely dependent on a grant in aid… I feel myself that economy can only be effected by the realisation of Mr. Chamberlain’s original scheme of amalgamating Northern and Southern Nigeria and Lagos into one single administration.
It is only in this way that Northern Nigeria, which is the hinterland of the other two, can be properly developed, and economies introduced into the triple machinery which at present exists. The country, which is all one and indivisible, can thus be developed on identical lines, with a common trend of policy in all essential matters.”
The material prosperity had been extraordinary
“Lugard’s advocacy of amalgamation ten years before it actually happened is not surprising. As Northern Nigeria’s high commissioner, he faced the problems of the colony’s dependency on grants from the Treasury and the need to find alternative revenue sources. Amalgamating the two Nigeria’s into one country would not only solve these problems for him, but carried with it a potential promotion, in that he would become the governor of the newly amalgamated country.
“For Lugard, the solution to his problems lay in Southern Nigeria. He observed: “Southern Nigeria, on the other hand, presented a picture which was in almost all points the exact converse of that in the North.
Here the material prosperity had been extraordinary. The revenue had almost doubled itself in a period of five years. The surplus balance exceeded a million and a half. The trade of the interior had greatly developed by the construction of a splendid system of roads, and by the opening to navigation of waterways hitherto choked with vegetation … And so while Northern Nigeria was devoting itself building up a system of native administration and laboriously raising a revenue by direct taxation, Southern Nigeria had found itself engrossed in material development.
To be concluded…
In Search For Justice For Keren-Happuch Akpagher
The Making Of A Dictator
To understand the implications of the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime’s plot to muzzle the media, it is necessary to trace the journey of the media and of the concept of freedom of expression in the service of democratic governance.
The Age of Enlightenment or Age of Reason of the 17th and 18th Century introduced the idea of Individualism which meant that the individual citizen of Old World Europe could justifiably hold an opinion different from those of others, including his monarch.
It advanced the pursuit of reason and empiricism and prompted the ideals of liberty –or ability to do as one pleases– and tolerance of ideas that one probably disagrees with– fraternity and constitutional government, which limited the powers of the monarch who was no longer regarded as divine.
The Age of Enlightenment was propelled by the growth of the press, the first of which were circulated in England in the 1620s. The penny newspaper, cheap tabloid, debuted in America in the 1830s to contribute robustly to conversations on democracy.
In England, the press took over the vocation of confronting the English monarch from the House of Commons that was established in 1341, when landholders took their petitions and grievances to the King through the Parliament.
The Nigerian press, that started with “Iwe Irohin Awon Yoruba,” first published in 1859 by Reverend Henry Townsend in Abeokuta, contributed significantly to the efforts of the nationalists to deliver Nigeria from the vice grip of colonial Great Britain.
It is regrettable that the press that stood in the vanguard to take out the colonialists, before confronting the jackboot military in Nigerian politics, is now the victim of politicians, who are beneficiaries of its daring.
The press in New World America became an indispensable institution of American politics to the extent that Thomas Jefferson, an American President, remarked that if he were asked to choose between “a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”
The job of surveillance and report of events that the media performs in the public space, for the mass, atomised, associational and complex society spread across the wide geographical spread of modern nations, is what terrifies regimes run by the likes of Major General Buhari.
The press has become a veritable institution of the democratic traditions even before the 21st Century, and there is hardly a country in the world that does not have its media, no matter how rudimentary it may be.
Even the Constitution of Nigeria gives every Nigerian the right to establish a media in order to express their freedom of speech, uphold the fundamental objectives of the constitution and hold the government accountable to the people.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, run by the All Progressives Congress, the political party that rode to power on the back of the media, while waving what has now turned out to be a banner of fake progressivism, is about to destroy the ladder it climbed to get to power.
After disembarking from the back of the proverbial tiger, the APC is determined to castrate it and pull off its fangs. The denizens of the APC must have gone through the grace notes of Nicolo Machiavelli, the Italian nobleman who recommended that anyone who assumes power must neutralise those who helped them acquire the power. It adds up, really.
The Minister for Information and Culture of this regime, Lai Mohammed, that is currently suffering from a bout of recidivism, relapsing into bad habits, is turning out as a cross between Josef Goebbels, Fuhrer Adolf Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda, and “The Thought Police,” of Oceania, the dystopic society of George Orwell’s novel, “NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.”
And if you dug into the past of Buhari, you would discover a military Head of State, who promised some journalists that he would tamper with the freedom of the press, and did with the obnoxious Decree 4 that he employed to send Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor, journalists from The Guardian newspaper, to gaol for reporting the truth.
The President and the Minister of Information are probably using Olusegun Odebunmi, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, who has vehemently argued to the contrary, as the conduit to promote the annoying bill.
The bill, according to Odebunmi, will protect and guide the Nigeria Press Council and reduce quackery, fake news and hate speech, as if there are no laws that already check libel, slander, defamation of character, fraud, cybercrime, sedition and insurrection.
Some of the more offending provisions of the dreadfully obnoxious bill empower the Minister of Information to “establish and disseminate a National Press Code and standards for media houses and journalists;” approve the establishment of media houses; grant them licences; and monitor them and their journalists as they comply with the code.
Indeed, anyone or body corporate that owns, publishes or prints a newspaper, magazine, journal or any other periodical without documentation by the Council, shall be liable for an offence and shall be prosecuted.
Violators of the proposed law shall be fined N5 million or spend three years in prison; pay additional fine of N20,000 for each day the offence continues to be committed; face the possibility of a suspension for six months or more; in addition to striking out the name of the offending journalist from a register to be compiled an infallible NPC.
Another absurd aspect of the bill is that newspaper vendors who sell or distribute the newspaper, magazine or journal shall be liable for an offence and shall be jailed for one year or pay a fine of N250000.
The mother of all the offences is fake news, a piece of news published and established to be fake thereafter, attracts N5 million fine or two years in jail to the journalist, in addition to N2 million compensation to the “victim,” which may be an individual, body corporate or government.
But if the guilty party was a media house, it shall pay a fine of N10 million or be closed down for one whole year! In addition, the offending media house shall pay N20 million compensation to the victim of the fake news.
To all this nonsense, the press that is gradually becoming a victim of the state, is telling anyone who cares to listen that there is literally a fire on the mountain and it is kindled by the APC regime.
The print media is stating its case in a rather dramatic manner. It sets the image of an inmate, whose mouth is sealed by a tape made of prison bars. And below the image is the following sorry narrative:
“Information Blackout is what the National Assembly (dominated by APC, erstwhile friend of the media), wants to achieve with the NPC and NBC (Media) Act Amendment Bills.” The media also notes, “It’s not just against the media… it’s about the society’s right to know, your right to be heard.”
What the media didn’t add is that the acts of both the legislative arm, that is proposing the Amendment, and the Executive Branch, that is encouraging the compromise of the liberty of the media and the Nigerian citizens, are the stuff of which dictators are made.
The ominous signs are just too obvious.
Dancing On The Blood Of Zamfarans….
Recently , no fewer than 40 persons were reportedly killed following attacks by suspected bandits on some villages in Zamfara state. The villages are Wari Tsaune, Gidan Adamu, Gidan Maidawa of Faru, all in the Maradun Local Government Area of the state.
It was also reported that the attacks left hundreds of others, including women and children with various degrees of injury.
Also several cows were said to have been rustled during the attack and shops in the affected villages were looted by the gunmen. This is a furtherance of the story of “sorrow, tears and blood” which has plagued Zamfara state in the last five(5) years.
Curiously, it was less than a week that Matawalle dumped PDP for the APC that his own local government came under serious attacks.
Who dun-nit ? The answer is not far fetched.
In this dystopia-like situation, widespread sobriety is expected of everyone especially the public office holders in Zamfara which is why the gross insensitivity displayed by the Deputy Governor, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau is offensive, wicked, and imbecilic.
It was reported that barely 24hrs after the said attack which left a river of blood and tears, the deputy Governor held a rally in the state capital. The said rally was to show the presence of his party in the state.
I am now of the utmost conviction that his recent show of shame is a piece in the puzzle of insecurity which has plagued Zamfara.
This is one of the many vices of the party which made Governor Matawalle ditch the party for the All Progressive Congress. A party which is insensitive to the plight of its members and those it governs should not be a platform for anyone with selflessness and purposeful leadership to build his lofty agenda and aspirations on.
The first piece of the puzzle which I will like to share was a tweet by Femi Fani Kayode few weeks ago in which he stated “May God deliver Zamfara & Nigeria from the evil of a madman that is determined to soak the state & our country in blood.
This man is responsible for the instability, bloodshed & violence we have suffered in Nigeris over decades & he works for the CIA. Many fear him but I do not.” He further affirmed “He is pure evil & I am going to expose him. The sword of truth will cut him down & the light of righteousness will expose his dark & evil ways & secrets.
What he is doing in Zamfara; the NW & indeed all over Nigeris today is unacceptable. He is a dangerous snake filled with hate, poison & blind & vaulting ambition even at his age”.
This is an indication that the sponsors or sponsor of banditry in Zamfara is known and can be revealed.
The second puzzle is the bold action of His Excellency, Governor Bello Muhammed Matawalle when he publicly challenged everyone in the state to follow demonstration of sincerity by swearing by the Holy Quran that he knows nothing about the banditry ravaging the state or anybody coordinating it. In his words on March 21, 2021 at the state capital while receiving an award as the Khadimul Quran conferred on him by the Centre for Quranic Reciter, he said; “I have sworn with the Holy Quran that if I know, or if I am part of, or I know anybody who is coordinating this (banditry), or with my hand or any of my family, may Allah not give me (speaks in Arabic) in this life,” he said.
Matawalle added, “I dare all the people from Zamfara State, from our father, Aliyu Gusau to Yarima Bakura and all the cabinet members, right from the inception of the political dispensation of the state, to take this oath as I did.”
Curiously, none of these aforementioned persons took up the challenge.
The last piece of the puzzle here is the celebration by Mahdi Aliyu. This only affirms the said attack a day before his rally was a successful muderous plot while the rally was a celebration of the successful execution of the evil plot.
With these three puzzles, it is evident one need not to look too far for the mischief makers behind the wickedness which has engulfed Zamfara for over five(5) years. The inssentive action of Mahdi Aliyu Gusua was dancing on the blood of innocent Zamfarans
a public affairs analyst.
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