The History of the amalgamation of Nigeria.

Every region of the present day Nigeria was part of the serial unification process which eventually led to the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by the British government in 1914. In this article, we will be looking briefly, the chronicles of the events leading up to the amalgamation.


The first thing the British did when they discovered the Niger area was to annex Lagos. This was done in 1861. It is believed by many scholars and historians that this marked the beginning of the entity called ‘Nigeria’.


After the British empire annexed Lagos due to its easy access to the ocean, they made an inquest further into the delta areas.

They pushed further into the oil rich hinterlands in the Niger Delta called Oil Rivers in order to facilitate commerce and administration. This was in the year 1885.

The Berlin West African Conference had stipulated what “efficient occupation” means. Again, increased rivalry from other European giants seeking to gain access to the area forced the British government to do something about the new area they ventured into.

 This made the British government form a skeletal government to administer the Oil River’s region. A Consul-General and Commissioner were appointed afterwards to administer the area.

The position of the Consul and Vice-Consul was also created and subsequent appointments was made in that regard too. The Consul-General’s quarters was at Old Calabar. 

The Oil Rivers Protectorate was later expanded to include Lokoja and Benue areas. In 1893, the Oil Rivers protectorate was renamed Niger Coast Protectorate. After the British government defeated and occupied Benin, the area occupied by the British empire was also was also assimilated into the Niger Coast Protectorate.


The annexation and making of Lagos as a protectorate became paramount to the British government due to some pressing concerns and it’s central location.

The annexation became an urgent affair due to the tribal wars in Yorubaland which was affecting trades, making the Lagos administration cumbersome. The French threat was always there smiling from a distance. This resulted in the signing of a treaty by the Lagos Administration in 1888 with the Alafin of Oyo. In the signed treaty, the Alafin of Oyo placed every Yoruba land under the protection of the British empire.

By 1896, every Yorubaland not under the control of the Ilorin caliphate was now under the Lagos Administration. Yorubaland and Lagos were administered by the British government as the “Colony and Protectorate of Lagos”.


Following more inward move by the British government into the southern part of the present day Nigeria, a colony was finally created on 1st January, 1900 to administer the area after the British government occupied the area. The newly formed colony was used to replace the previous Niger Coast Protectorate and was named the “Protectorate of Southern Nigeria”.

This also led to the replacing office of the Consul-General with “High Commissioner”.

On the 1st of May 1906 however, the British government merged the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria together with the Colony and Protectorate of Lagos. This led to the creation of the Southern Protectorate. Lagos retained its status as the administrative headquarters.


The British government had earlier in 1887 made a protectorate declaration over areas claimed by The Royal Niger Company in the northern part of Nigeria. 

As at 1900, the northern part of Nigeria under the British control was contracted to The Royal Niger Company to administer on behalf of the British empire.

However, in 1906, the British government took over the control of the northern protectorate directly from the The Royal Niger Company. The new administrative area was called the “Protectorate of Northern Nigeria”. Lord Federick Lugard was made the first British High Commissioner of the newly formed proctectorate. 


Lord Lugard was earlier appointed by the British government to oversee and coordinate the administration of the southern and northern protectorates. They were impressed by how he handled his functions in the northern protectorate as the High Commissioner. After the appointment, Lord Lugard administered the two regions. However, budget deficits made Lord Lugard push for a sort of unification between the two regions.

On the 1st of January 1914, the two protectorates fused together in what is now popularly known as the “amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorate of 1914”.

After that, the “Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria” emerged. This is the brief history of the creation of the entity called Nigeria today.

 After the amalgamation was completed, Lord Frederick Lugard was made the first “Governor-General of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria”.


• History of West Africa by KBC Onwubiko✓

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