Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lord Lugard

Just come across pages of Harry Gailey's book "Lugard and the Abeokuta Uprising" on Google Books. Its a fascinating insight into Lugard's mindset and his failure to understand cultural differences across Nigeria. Here are three passages to give you a flavour:

"Lady Lugard in the early years of the century had a more immediate effect upon Sir Frederick's career. She spent only one short period with her husband in Africa. They decided the climate and unhealthy conditions were too extreme for her delicate health and she never again accompanied him. Lugard therefore attempted to find ways of returning to Britain on leave as often as possible. He hit upon his 'scheme' whereby he could spend a large amount of time in Britain and still govern Nigeria directly."

Doesn't that remind you of something?

"Sir Frederick had decided very early in his administration to apply the northern system of rule to southern areas as far as possible. This meant salaried officials with well defined powers operating under the direction of a single African executive. There was a fundamental flaw in Lugard's conceptualisation. However similar a Yoruba Oba and his court might have appeared to be in comparison to a northern Emir and council, there were basic differences. No Yoruba Oba possessed the autocratic powers of his northern counterpart. There were many overt and covert checks upon his authority."

"Nevertheless, by 1912, it was obvious that there was a major flaw in the northern system. The Protectorate of Northern Nigeria could not pay its own way. The government was running a very large continuing annual deficit. This was compensated by a subsidy from the richer Southern Protectorate and by an annual British grant of £300,000 per year. The Colonial Office therefore conceived the idea of lowering administrative costs and providing for the cancellation of the annual subsidy by recourse to an expedient which must have appeared simple to the administrators in London. They would amalgamate the two Nigerian Protectorates. This would solve the problem of the subsidy by shifting the budget deficits of the north to the new central government."

Lugard comes across as a rather inept administrator, who played no small role in destroying traditional systems of governance and accountability in Nigeria by trying to apply his favoured northern model to the rest of the country. The effects of his decisions are arguably still being felt today.


Anonymous,  12:26 pm  

Indeed old chap, and we are still trying to work out the consequences of this forced marriage, as divorce is not an option. Hopefully we might end up with co-habitation and stricly defined rules. In the meantime, one half shall continue to subsidise the other. I pray that explorers find some high value mineral in the North, which will be a good excuse for partition. Free at last, free at last.....well not quite as there'll be no such miracle. I better get back to patching up the marriage, I do quite like thier princesses, truly regal, born to rule, arrogant as hell, lazy with style, and elegant...Adam will eat the apple!!! Its the me Oga!!!

JG 3:00 pm  

‘My boss liked our women’ says an old Nigeria who had worked for Lugard in Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s ‘In Dependence’. See this in the context of the novel’s fascinating coverage of racial and political issues over several generations. JG

Fred 5:25 pm  

So the heavy yoke on the south of the north and its incompetence is an old story.

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