The amalgamation of Nigeria was recorded to be a fraud

(Being excerpts from the speech of Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN),
first and second Republic Minister, at the public presentation of the
book “Fellow Country Men- the story of Coup D’etats in Nigeria by
Richard Akinnola, June 2000)
I was in the first cabinet that was overthrown by the military in this
country. I entered parliame…nt in December 12, 1959. And I
remained in parliament until January 15, 1966 when the
government was overthrown. I was the Federal Minister of
Education in that cabinet. I woke up one morning in my official
house in Ikoyi to discover that my telephone was not working. I
had never experienced coup before nor did I know that it was a
coup, thinking it was just a telephone fault; until a colleague of
mine in the cabinet Chief Abiodun Akerele, came in and told me
there had been a military coup. So I had the fortune or the
misfortune of being a victim of the first coup in this country.
Many people may not know that I spent 18 months in detention in
prisons across the country. I’ve spent time in KiriKiri prison, Ilesha
prison, Ibadan prison and the Abeokuta prison.
Two of us who were in Balewa’s government emerged when the
military handed over to the civilians in 1979 as part of the civilian
government. In Balewa’s government, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was
the Minister of Works while I was the Minister of Education. When
the military handed over to us after about 14 years, Shagari
emerged as the President while I became the Attorney-General and
Minister of Justice. Again, Shagari’s government was overthrown
just a few months after I left the cabinet. Of course, we suspected
it was coming. A lot of things that happened between that period
and now would never see the light of the day. When you are in
government, you know a lot of things, you see a lot of things. A lot
of things you know or did or saw will die with you.
This is the practice of the whole world. People have asked me to
write my memoirs, I just laugh because there are certain things I
can never reveal.
When I was in Tafawa Balewa’s Cabinet, all Cabinet Ministers had
access to written intelligence report every month. That was the
practice at that time. But when Shagari came in, for reasons which
I cannot explain, that practice was no longer followed. But by
virtue of my duties as the Attorney-General and as a member of
the National Security Council, I continued to have access to some
sensitive matters.
Nigeria is a very complex country. Our problems did not start
yesterday. It started about 1894. Lord Lugard came here about
1894 and many people did not know that Major Lugard was not
originally employed by the British government. He was employed
by companies. He was first employed by East Indian Company, by
the Royal East African Company and then by the Royal Niger
Company. It was from the Royal Niger Company that he
transferred to the British government.
Unless you know this background, you will not know the root
causes of our problems. The interest of the Europeans in Africa
and indeed in Nigeria was economic and it’s still economic. They
have no permanent friends and no permanent interest. Neither
their interest nor their friends are permanent. Nigeria was created
as British sphere of interests for business.
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 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. And 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. Nigerians, too, should operate in the
interest of their country.
When Lugard formed the West African Frontier Force with 2,000
troops, about 90 percent of them were from the North mainly from
the middle belt. And his dispatches to London between that time
and January 1914 was extremely interesting. Lugard came here
for a purpose and that purpose was British interest.
Between 1898 and 1914, he sent a number of dispatches to London
which led to the Amalgamation of 1914. The Order-in-Council was
drawn up in November 1913, signed and came into force in
January 1914. In those dispatches, Lugard said a number of things
which are the root causes of yesterday and today’s problems. The
British needed the Railway from the North to the Coast in the
interest of British business. Amalgamation of the South (not of the
people) became of crucial importance to British business interest.
He said the North and South should be amalgamated. Southern
Nigeria came into existence on January 1900…….At the centenary
of the fall of Benin, I wrote a piece in a number of papers but
before I published the piece, I sent a copy to the Oba of Benin.
So when Benin was conquered in 1896, it made the creation of the
Southern Nigerian protectorate possible on January 1, 1900. If you
remember, Sokoto was not conquered until 1903. So, there was no
question of Nigeria at that time. After the conquest of Sokoto, they
were able to create the Northern Nigeria protectorate. Lugard went
full blast and created what was to be known as the protectorate of
Northern Nigeria.
What is critical and important are the reasons Lugard gave in his
dispatches. They are as follows:
He said 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 that they have educated people.
The first Yoruba Lawyer was called to the Bar in 1861. Therefore,
because it was not the policy of the British Government to bring
the tax-payers money to run the protectorate, it was in the interest
of the British tax payer that there should be Amalgamation. But
what the British Amalgamated was the Administration of the North
and South. That is one of the root causes of the problems of
Nigeria and the Nigerians.
When the amalgamation took effect, the British government sealed
off the South from the North. And between 1914 and 1960, that’s 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.
When the North formed a political party, the Northern leaders
called it Northern People’s Congress (NPC). They didn’t 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 created not in the interest of Nigeria or Nigerians but in the
interest of the 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.
In the British structure, England has permanent majority in the
House of Commons. There was no way Wales can ever dominate
England, neither can Scotland dominate Britain. But they are very
shrewd. They would allow a Scottish man to become Prime
Minister. They would allow a welsh man to become Prime Minister
in London but the fact remains that the actual power is rested in
England.
That was what Lugard created In Nigeria, a permanent majority for
the North. The population figure is also a fraud. In fact, a British
Colonial Civil Servant who was involved in the fraud was trying to
expose it but he was never allowed to publish it.
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. Nigeria is the
only Zone whereby you go from the Coast to the North, the
population increases and you come from the North to the Coast,
the population decreases. Well, geographers, anthropologists and
population experts, draw your conclusions. Someone has told me
that the last population census was done by computer. What
nonsense. A computer is as good as its programmer. A computer
will produce what you ask it to produce.
I have read this book from cover to cover. This is a fantastic book.
I want us to find a way to ensure that many Nigerians read this
book. It is a raw material for future authors. There is one thing
which is missing in this book and that is the first broadcast of
General Ibrahim Babaginda when he assumed power in 1985. The
broadcast is very crucial to the economic problems we have today.
Talking on the first coup, when Balewa got missing, we knew
Okotie-Eboh had been killed, we knew Akintola had been killed. We
the members of the Balewa cabinet started meeting. But how can
we have a cabinet meeting without the Prime Minister acting or the
Prime Minister presiding. So, unanimously, we nominated acting
Prime Minister amongst us. Then we continued holding our
meetings. Then we got a message that we should all assemble at
the Cabinet office.
All the Ministers were requested by the G.O.C. of the Nigerian
Army, General Ironsi to assemble. What was amazing at that time
was that Ironsi was going all over Lagos unarmed. We assembled
there, having nominating Zana Diphcharima as our acting prime
minister in the absence of the Prime Minister, whose where about
we didn’t know. We approached the acting President, Nwafor Orizu
to swear him in because he could not legitimately act as the Prime
Minister except he was sworn in. Nwafor Orizu refused. He said he
needed to contact Zik who was then in West Indies.
Under the Law, that is, the interpretation Act, as acting President,
Nwafor Orizu had all the powers of the President.
The G.O.C said he wanted to see all the cabinet ministers. And so
we assembled at the cabinet office. Well, I have read in many
books saying that we handed over to the military. We did not hand-
over. Ironsi told us that “you either hand over as gentlemen or you
hand-over by force”. These were his words. Is that voluntary hand-
over? So we did not hand-over. We wanted the Acting Prime
Minister to be in place but Ironsi forced us, and I use the word
force advisedly, to handover to him. He was controlling the
soldiers.
The acting President, Nwafor Orizu, who did not cooperate with us,
cooperated with the GOC. Dr. Orizu and the GOC prepared
speeches which Nwafor Orizu broadcast handing over to the
government of the country to the army. I here state again
categorically as a member of that cabinet that we did not hand-
over voluntarily. It was a coup.
There is a very good book, which everybody must read. It is raw
material for future authors. Anybody, who wants to know some of
the causes of our problems, military instability should read this
book. I recommend this book to all universities and secondary
schools, so that they can know how we got to where we are now.
What this book shows is that if anybody stages a coup and if
people don’t accept it, it would not succeed. What puzzles me is
how the author got all these materials. He must have connections
in high places to be able to get a lot of these materials. These
materials should not be in archives, they should be in public
domain so that we know the causes of our problems.
I pray that all Nigerians should rise up and say no if anybody
seizes a radio station and says “fellow countrymen”. I hope that
this book will find a way into all university libraries throughout this
country, to all secondary school libraries and abroad. I appeal to
the media to give this book a comprehensive and desired review.
The more I open the book, the more I see something to talk about.
This book is going to represent one of the chapters in the tragedy
of Nigeria. This book is just like horror film because the instability
which was started in 1966…….. because many of the coups are
what I’ll call commercial coups.
If anything at all, we have to learn a great lesson from this book
and also learn a lesson on what happened, who failed or
succeeded in their coups. When it succeeds, they call it glorious
revolution, but when it fails, it is called treason. It is my honor and
privilege to present this great and historic book. One of the things I
like about the book is the language of the author. He’s someone
who speaks Englishman’s English. He writes Queens English. Very
lucid, very flowing.

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2 Comments

  1. Very nice information

  2. Okay

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