Indirect Rule In Southern Protectorate Of Nigeria

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INDIRECT RULE IN SOUTHERN PROTECTORATE OF NIGERIA

Although the indirect rule policy was a huge success in the Northern Protectorate, it was a mixed bag in the Southern Protectorate. Because its introduction in the area was based on false assumptions about the role of the traditional rulers in Southern Nigeria it was inevitable that the policy would fail to achieve its objectives.

Failure of Indirect Rule In Southern Protectorate Of Nigeria

The following factors contributed to the failure of indirect rule in the Southern protectorate.

  • The king (Oba) in Western Nigeria was a titular monarch whose powers were checkmated by the senior chiefs. He was not as powerful as the Emir (Hausa’s king) contrary to the view held by the colonialists.
  • As a spiritual leader, the Oba was prohibited from appearing in the public except on special occasions. This made native local administration difficult.
  • The Igbo traditional political institution lacked a central authority as there were no traditional rulers in the mould of the Northern Emirs or even the Yoruba OBAs.
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Since a central political institution was central to the success of indirect rule, chiefs who were accorded the status of traditional rulers were appointed and made to perform as chiefs. The colonial government however failed to consider the segmentary and republican nature of the people and this created a lot of disaffection among the Igbo people who were not used to taking orders from traditional rulers or pseudo traditional institutions.

  • Because of the largely secular nature of the Igbo and Yoruba societies and the early exposure of the people to western education, there was little respect for traditional institutions and the native authority system, which were essential to the implementation of the indirect rule policy.
  • Indirect rule had no place for the educated elites and they were completely excluded from the government because of the distrust of colonial administrators for educated Nigerians.
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The taxation system was new in the Southern Protectorate and the attempt to introduce the payment of taxes in different parts of the protectorate met with stiff opposition. In Western Nigeria, it led to riots at Iseyin and Abeokuta in 1916 and 1918 respectively.

It was reported that in 1916 the native court at Okeho in Oyo province was burnt and those who supported the system were murdered. The introduction of the payment of taxes in Eastern Nigeria led to the Aba riots of 1927 in which protesting women were killed.


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