The indirect rule system which the British introduced in most of the Africa colonies was a policy dictated by circumstances and designed to secure the maximum cooperation of Africans in the task of administering large territories. To what extent did this statement explain why the indirect rule was introduced in Nigeria?
ASANBE GAFFAR OLADAYO
LECTURER IN CHARGE
Dr. A.F. Usman
Department of History
Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies
Usmanu Danfidiyo University, Sokoto
By 1898, the British government sought to establish and maintain a colonial state in Nigeria.1 This long process involved a number of important measures including the removal of all visible African opposition to the imposition, expansion and consolidation of British central authority over the territory later known as Nigeria. A succession of British officials used coercion and diplomacy in the Northern and Southern Nigeria to reduce African opposition to minimum.2 In terms of administering the vast territory, the British governed Nigeria through indirect rule. In principle, indirect rule was one of the non-violent measures adopted by Britain in ruling her Africa colonies.3 Indirect rule in theory was a concept of local government in which it was believed that the British were to rule Nigeria and other colonies through indigenous rulers and institutions but in practice, the system laid heavy emphasis on the role of the chiefs in the government of African peoples, even for those peoples who traditionally did not have political as distinct from religious leaders.4 The system was based on the belief that British officials were to be advisers to indigenous rulers ruling their communities. British political officers were to have no direct dealing with the people. For instance, all instructions or directives had to reach the people through their rulers.5 The use of indigenous political institutions for the purpose of local administration was contingent on certain modifications to these...
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