Success Of Indirect Rule In Northern Nigeria

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The indirect rule system was largely a success in the Northern Protectorate because of the following reasons.

First, there was an existing traditional system of administration, which was effective in achieving the goals of government. Lord Lugard simply retained this structure and modified it to suit the needs of the society.

Second, the Fulani emirate, being a theocratic state, had a system of administration in which those who ruled society ostensibly did so on behalf of God. Emirs were descendants of Uthman Dan Fodio and they therefore combined both political and spiritual duties.

The political significance of all this was that the power and authority of the emir could not be challenged and the people gave unalloyed support to the political leadership and system. This system augured well for the indirect rule policy.

Third, the Fulani emirate had a well-organized court system which applied Islamic and Sharia laws. A good court system is essential to the success of any system of government.

The colonial government did not disturb the system but only put in place a structure that would ensure that judicial decisions were made in conformity with the principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience which were the cornerstone of the British legal system.

Fourth, there was an efficient taxation system, which had been in existence before colonialism. The British simply modified the system by introducing unitary tax system and ensured that the emir retained a part of the revenue collected while the surplus was used for the provision of social services for the people. It was therefore easy to collect the revenue required to meet the cost of administration.

Finally, the Fulani emirates, much of which was subdued by the British in her attempt to take over the Northern Protectorate, saw the indirect rule as a welcome compromise since the policy did not remove much of their traditional powers.

In spite of all these, Lugard’s administration of the Northern Protectorate was hampered by shortage of funds. This made the amalgamation of the Northem and Southern Protectorates in 1914 inevitable, as it was necessary to pool the resources of the two protectorates together.

One immediate consequence of the amalgamation was the introduction of the indirect rule policy in Southern Nigeria.

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