How Nigeria Became a Country: The Story of Independence From British Rule
Nigeria is a country on the west coast of Africa. It was first colonized by the British in 1897. Nigeria's independence was achieved on October 1, 1960 after many years of struggle for freedom from colonial rule. This started with agitation and protests against British rule which eventually led to riots known as the "Women's War" in 1929. There were also movements like Egbe Omo Oduduwa (Society of Oduduwa Descendants) who wanted an independent state for Yoruba people and The Zikist Movement which demanded full autonomy for Nigeria under a federal system with Nnamdi Azikiwe as their leader. After World War II ended, local Nigerian politicians worked together to gain independence through constitutional means rather than
Section 1: British Rule
Under colonial rule, Nigeria was ruled by a British council until Nigeria's independence in 1960. The British Council was divided into three sections; The Political, the Trade and the Administration Council. The Political Council was made up of the Colonial Secretary, the Colonial Governor and the Prime Minister. The Trade Council dealt with economic matters such as the Royal Niger Company which was in charge of trading. The Administration Council dealt with local government matters including the town commissioners, magistrates and justices of the peace. All of these institutions were in charge of the day-to-day running of Nigeria.
The Protectorate of Nigeria was a relatively peaceful place until the First World War broke out in 1914.
The Women's War
a violent uprising. The 1966 military coup d'état overthrew the government of prime minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Major Muhammadu Buhari led the coup and abolished the government on January 15th. He was later assassinated by a group called the January 15th Movement which demanded his re-instatement. Nigeria was at war with itself for the next three years between the breakaway republic of Biafra (then a country in southeastern Nigeria) and the Federal Government. The war claimed the lives of over one million people. The Nigerian Civil War also known as Biafra War lasted from 1967-1970. Biafra was then successfully reintegrated into the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Egbe Omo Oduduwa
take the law into their own hands and organize a civil war that could cost thousands of lives.
It was during this time that a group of West African Students from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Togo which were based in Dakar in Senegal made their way to France where they met several other students and formed the League of Negro Amalgamated Students, in an effort to protest colonial rule in the region. They also joined other "leagues of unity" formed by activists from these countries to protest the presence of European imperialism.
Following the Young Turk Revolution in Turkey, the group traveled to Paris and on July 21, 1920, they founded the Black Star Line to provide political, economic and military aid to independence movements.
. The leaders recognized that Nigerian independence was best achieved as a coalition of people from all regions who would work for the country and not a single group. They also realized that the economic and political power of the south could be used to gain much needed regional autonomy while gaining the political and military power of the north. This plan was successful as political power of the regions, especially the north, was given to the northerners at the federal level, in exchange for greater regional autonomy and allowing the south to produce an economic surplus to support its own prosperity. The economic situation is such that Nigeria can produce enough resources to become self-sufficient.
Nigeria's Independence From Britain
Nigeria gained its independence from Great Britain in October 1960 and Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first Prime Minister of the Federation of Nigeria. The country is currently a presidential republic with a semi-presidential system of government.
Background of Igbo Nationalist:
The secession of Biafra from Nigeria occurred in 1967. Igbos were unhappy about political and economic marginalization and an administrative split from Nigeria. It was only a region in South East that declared itself as independent but this later caused another war which resulted in the killings of over three million people. The war ended in 1970 after the intervention of the Nigerian government.
Other Independence Movements:
This was not the first secession attempt.
Nnamdi Azikiwe as the Leader of the Zikist Movement
colonization by force.
During the colonial era, many regions of Nigeria were relatively isolated from the other regions of the country. To consolidate the empire and continue to produce soldiers to fight in the world wars of the 20th century, the British rulers built roads and railways connecting the regions. For the first time, Nigeria became connected to Europe and America. In 1914, the Nigeria-Ocean Railway line opened. The first oil wells in the world were also located in Nigeria.
Nigeria became independent in 1960, and leaders emerged to guide the country in its development and transition to independence. The country was divided into six geopolitical zones and became a republic with a president as the head of state. Some regional leaders said they should be the ones to lead.