WHO AGREED AND SIGNED THE AMALGAMATION OF 1914?

On October 1, 2017, a very brief post lightly circulated on Facebook. I didn’t really take it seriously even though I made some comprehensive comments under some two different names that carried it. However, as days went by, I kept seeing the post re-circulated and shared to the extent of meeting it again in a Whatsapp group.

Initially, I was overwhelmed by the volume of ignorant takes that trailed the post. In fact, in one of the posts where I commented in my effort to educate folks, I was ridiculed but I was firm enough to engage the disagreeing interlocutors and argue my points out.

The said post goes thus:

“If zik was born 1904, Awolowo 1909, Ahmadu Bello 1910, Tafawa Belewa 1912, M. Okpara 1920 who agreed and signed 1914 amalgamation?”

To this, there were two groups of reactionaries. The first were youths in their 20s and 30s — people of my generation. They were expressing surprise and awe at such a “smart” question which nobody can decode or would be a hard nut to crack. Immediately, I saw the devastating effect of their poverty of historical knowledge and consciousness ably facilitated by the Nigeria Establishment over the years through direct and indirect cancelling out of history studies in our formative stages. The second group included middle-aged people who have some appreciable knowledge or answer to the question but are insistent on knowing the “signatories” at the amalgamation. As a teacher, I have the habit of never taking any question for granted or useless because there might be that one person in the crowd struggling taciturnly to know and understand something that might illuminate his/her mind in the process. So, I’m making a few points—mainly to raise more discussions rather than lump my takes—as regards that post in the interest of those who don’t know but are interested in knowing or augmenting the clarity of what they know.

1. “Nigeria” – as a word or a place – was never instituted with the consent of our forefathers when it came into being at the dawn of 19th century (remember the Berlin Conference of 1885-6 that officially gave British the geographical dominance) as well as the beginning of 20th century (creation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1900). Note also that the present core North was formerly called “Western Soudan” until 1900. The people presently answering and have answered “Nigerians” up till today merely inherited a business/colonial empire belonging to the British people and were forced to make a “nation” out of it unlike, say, Americans that wiped off their colonial legacy and were fully involved in renegotiating their country to what THEY WANT! Ever notice how America has quietly yanked off anything “British” in their march through history such that many young Africans are always surprised to learn that the same Britain that colonized them colonized America too?!

2. It is funny how many Nigerian folks see Zik, Awo and Bello as some “old” forefathers. Hello, these men were born at the beginning of 20th century—not so long ago! They were just of the generation of my grandfather and uncles. Such persons need to realize that Nnamdi Azikiwe’s father was a clerk to the British masters who never allowed them acquire education beyond what is equivalent to today’s Primary school studies. Even Zik’s father and his generation (born in the 19th century) didn’t fully appreciate what “amalgamation” implied as they were merely servants of their British masters who were running a business for the Colonial Office in London using a large field called “Nigeria”. By 1920s, Zik himself began to understand the complexity of the world around him and it took him many years between the 1920s and 1930s to acquire the weapon to fight the Establishment. Then another round of 20 years between the 1940s and 1960 to consummate that dream. Same can be said of Obafemi Awolowo. Slightly, same can be said of Bello for he was only a product of the “British affection” for the ‘loyal North’ that doesn’t want to threaten its religious institutions with the influx of Western civilization. One must note that all the British officers who served in the North were all men who had served in the Malayan and Strait States where Islamism was the core culture/religion. They were carefully selected to perpetuate the servility and docility of the Northern Islamic culture in the ‘future interest’ of the British—that is today’s Fulani Hegemony in the Nigerian Political power matrix.

3. There were only 28 persons involved in the so-called “amalgamation” of January, 1914. While 6 persons were Nigerians, the rest were British including Frederick Lord Lugard himself, Lewis Harcourt (the secretary of state for the colonies whose name Port-Harcourt city took after leaving the original “Igweocha/Obumotu”) and other European officers in charge of the two Protectorates. The following were the ONLY “Nigerians” officially involved in the amalgamation signage:

• A lawyer, Sir Kitoyi Ajasa (representing the African community in Lagos as a Legislative Council member of the Colony since 1902). Lagos was mainly for the British. Then the rest were summed up as “African community” which included the returnee slaves of Sierra-Leone, Nigerians themselves, Ghanaians, etc.

• His Highness, Oladugbolu (Alaafin of Oyo)

• Hon. R Henshaw (Obong of Calabar)

• Hon. Maiturare (Sarkin Mussulumi and Sultan of Sokoto)

• Hon. Abubakar (Shehu of Borno)

• Hon. Usuman (Emir of Kano)

Note, from the above, that there was no Igbo traditional ruler involved. Not even the Eze Chima of Onicha those days. The Aro Expedition that was the final conquest of Igboland had happened 12 years earlier between 1901 and 1902 as the British Indirect treachery had been fiercely resisted by the Igbo people in the late 19th century. Again, note that there was more Fulani/Northern presence than any other “Nigerians” in the signage. The “pact” between the British and the Northern Oligarchy had been sealed for over a century and what we complain of today should never be a surprise to anyone who knows history. We are merely slaves living out the dreams and arrangement of unconcerned bourgeoisies—by sheer force!

4. By the time Zik had acquired enough weapons to lead the war against the British continued imperialism in the so-called Nigeria, the whole moribund arrangement had existed for more than 30 years. How many persons had been educated enough at that time? Only a few! Michael Okpara was even just a very young man at the time. The only visible result they could make out of the whole complication was Independence. Today, that Independence is only 57 years old {with over 50 years of nothing to show and 3 years of war from it all}.

5. In conclusion, those who see Zik, Awo, Bello, Balewa, Okpara, etc as some ancestral forefathers and architects of this whole impossible behemoth should realize that these men met an arrangement that had existed for about 40 years—an arrangement far older than them. They spent the rest of their lives trying to make sense of it. That’s all! When people of Nigeria say “I love Nigeria” and all the attendant shallow emotional similarities, do they really know what they love? Do they know its form, origin, the pacts of its workings and its future? Certainly not! No honest person who appreciates these things easily proclaims love for Nigeria. S/he, at best, remains silent. The Colonial Machine it is, has been and still continues. I hope this gives some answer and clarity to the above post and the needless but instructive contentions that trailed it.

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