By BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN, has revealed the genesis of Nigeria’s problems and the basis upon which she got her independence.
Akinjide at the public presentation of a book titled, “Fellow Countrymen: The Story of Coup D’etats in Nigeria”, written by a veteran journalist, Mr. Richard Akinnola, said that the root of Nigeria’s problems could be traced back to 1894 when Lord Lugard came to the country.
“The problem started about 1894. Major Frederick Lugard came here about 1894 and many people did not know that he was not originally employed by the British government. He was employed by East Indian Company, then by the Royal East African Company and then by the Royal Niger Company. It was from the Royal Niger Company that he transferred his services to the British government,” he stated.
While reviewing the 340-page book, Akinjide noted that the interest of the Europeans in Africa and particularly Nigeria was economic, adding that the country was created to protect the British sphere of business interests. “In 1898, Lugard formed the West African Frontier Force, initially with 2,000 soldiers and that was the beginning of our problems.
Anybody that wants to know the root cause of all the coups highlighted in this book and our present problems and who does not know the evolution of Nigeria, would just be looking at the matter superficially. Our problems started from that time. Lugard was what they called at that time imperialist. A number of British soldiers, businessmen, politicians were very patriotic. But I must warn you, they were operating in the interest of their country. Lugard became a Lord,” he added.
On reasons why Lugard created the protectorate of Northern Nigeria, Akinjide stated: “He (Lugard) said that the North is poor and they have no resources to run the protectorate of the North; that they have no access to the sea; that the South has resources and have educated people. The first Yoruba lawyer was called to bar in 1861. Therefore, because it was not the policy of the British government to bring its tax-payers’ money to run the protectorate, it was in the interest of the British tax payers that there should be amalgamation of the North and South. That is one of the root causes of the problems of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“When the amalgamation took effect, the British government sealed off the South from the North. And between 1914 and 1960, that is a period of 46 years, the British allowed minimum contact between the North and South because it was not in the British interest that the North be allowed to be polluted by the educated South. That was the basis on which we got our independence in 1960 when I was in the parliament. I entered parliament on December 12, 1959.” Nigeria’s creation a fraud
Akinjide further stated that the creation of Nigeria in 1914 was a big fraud. “When the North formed a political party, the Northern leaders called it Northern People’s Congress (NPC); they did not call it Nigeria’s People Congress. That was in accordance with the dictum and policies of Lugard. When Aminu Kano formed his own party, it was called Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), not Nigerian Elements Progressive Union. It was only Awolowo and Zik who were mistaken that there was anything called Nigeria.
In fact, the so called Nigeria created in 1914 was a complete fraud. It was not created in the interest of Nigeria or Nigerians but in the interest of British. And what were the structures created? The structures created were as follows: Northern Nigeria was to represent England; Western Nigeria like Wales; Eastern Nigeria was to be like Scotland.
Also describing the country’s population figure as fraud, Akinjide said that when a British colonial civil servant who was involved in the fraud tried to expose it, he was never allowed to publish same. He stated: “The analysis is as follows: If you look at the map of West Africa, starting from Mauritania to Cameroun and take a population of each country as you move from the Coast to Savannah, the population decreases.
Or conversely, as you come from the Desert to the Coast, right from Mauritania to Cameroun, the population increases. The only exception throughout the zone is Nigeria.” Meanwhile on the book, Akinnola said: “as a researcher and journalist of over three decades and having actively reported most of the coups, apart from those of 1966 and 1975, I felt it was necessary to research, document and put in historical context, the evolution and statistics of coup d’états in Nigeria.”