Nigeria Economy and Politics


Economic conditions. – Nigeria’s external trade rose in 20 years (1906-1924) from the value of 300 million lire to a value that exceeds 2100 million at the current exchange rate of the Italian lira. After this period, however, the value decreases, following the commercial depression of other countries as well (in 1932 it was around 1100 million. Palm oil and palm kernels from the delta region make up more than half of the export; it follows, in order of importance, pistachio, produced in the northern provinces; other agricultural products are cocoa (from the southern provinces), skins and cotton (from the northern provinces). Mahogany (from Benin) and tin (from the plateau of Bauchi). Other minerals are: coal, lignite, silver, lead, manganese and monazite. Imports include manufactured goods, fish and salt. Production is in the hands of indigenous farmers who work 1 0 2 hectares each and to whom the government provides advice and assistance in various ways.

According to BARBLEJEWELRY.COM, the trade takes place with various parts of the British Empire (in 1931 almost 50%); but a part is also absorbed by the United States, France, Germany and Japan.

There are numerous ports in the lagoons, in the Niger Delta and at the mouths of rivers in the east. The main ones are those of Lagos, Port Harcourt, about 65 km away. from the sea on the Bonny River, and Calabar. Lagos was so called by the Portuguese because of the many coastal lagoons; in the sec. XVIII it became a large slave market and passed definitively into the possession of England in 1861. In 1897 it had a population of 30,000 residents, which in 1931 rose to 126,000, of which about 1000 Europeans. The entrance to the port is obstructed by a bar of moving sand, but thanks to a protective pier it is accessible to vessels of 7m fishing. The quays have a development of more than 1500 m. and Lagos is connected by a bridge to the island of Iddo, the terminus of the railway. Dredging has not only improved the entrance to the port, but they have reclaimed the surrounding marshes to the great advantage of sanitary conditions. Lagos is the seat of the government. Port Harcourt is accessible, above the Bonny Bar, to vessels with a draft of even more than 7m; the port is of recent construction (around 1914): it is responsible for the traffic of the coal fields of Udi and that of a region producing palm oil. Calabar is also a river port about 65 km away. from the sea and is built on low rocks; it is accessible to ships of 6 m draft. and above all it disengages the traffic of palm products. the traffic of the coal fields of Udi and that of a region producing palm oil are part of it. Calabar is also a river port about 65 km away. from the sea and is built on low rocks; it is accessible to ships of 6 m draft. and above all it disengages the traffic of palm products. the traffic of the coal fields of Udi and that of a region producing palm oil are part of it. Calabar is also a river port about 65 km away. from the sea and is built on low rocks; it is accessible to ships of 6 m draft. and above all it disengages the traffic of palm products.

At the root of the delta are the city of Asaba on the west bank of Niger and the city of Onitsha on the east bank. Further upstream are Idah and Lokoja, the latter at the confluence of Niger with Benué. The main railway line runs from Lagos to Kano (1130 km.), With various branches. Another railway line connects Port Harcourt to Kaduna (910 km.). Both lines have branches for the Bauchi tin deposits.

Administration. – Since English influence had spread along Niger to the Fulani emirates of the north, the emirs (from 1903 onwards) ruled subject to conditions set by England, which forbade the raiding of slaves and their trade, punishments contrary to human sentiments, the importation of firearms except for simple muskets and instituted certain rules relating to the territories held by or for the English government. FD Lugard, who had been in the service of the Royal Company of Niger, made Nigeria the classic experiment of indirect government of Africans by Europeans. The land that had traditionally been entrusted by the people to the leaders without the right to sell, was declared (Sir H. Bell, 1910) belonging to the government by way of inalienable custody and was since then leased to indigenous farmers against payment of a tax. It was forbidden to buy and sell land and to transform the one held into possession. It is the principle of government in Nigeria that the administrative and social order of the indigenous must be preserved as far as possible, except in what concerns slavery and other practices contrary to European sentiment. The northern provinces continued to be governed by emirs assisted by English officials with the task of ensuring that English and foreign merchants did not exploit the natives. It was not without some difficulty that the strong indigenous kingdoms of Egbe, Yoruba and Benin in the south could be persuaded to accept the English order. When northern and southern Nigeria were united in 1914, laws were enacted concerning the administration of justice, the increase of education and the conservation of forests; since 1919 the import of commercial alcoholic products was prohibited in the territories of English West Africa. The legislative council, chaired by the governor, is composed mostly of members appointed by the government; but it also includes three members chosen respectively by the Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano chambers of commerce; three members chosen by the Lagos taxpayers and one by the Calabar taxpayers; one member chosen from the chamber of mines, one to represent the bankers and shipowners and seven chosen to oversee the interests of the natives. There are 22 provinces, each with an English official who may be in direct charge of the administration or may be the advisor to the chief or the local emir. The aforementioned council is also in charge of administering the mandate territory of Cameroon. There is also an official executive committee.

Finances. – The main income chapters are made up of customs duties (about half of the total revenue), railway revenue and direct taxes; the main expenses are those for railway construction, for the service of the public debt and for public works. During the financial year 1932-33, the income amounted to 4,984,505 pounds sterling against 4,983,739 of ordinary expenses. The public debt, contracted mainly to finance public utility works, amounted to 28.3 million pounds as of March 31, 1932. The monetary unit is the pound sterling and the issuance of the tickets, guaranteed by a reserve in gold and securities held in London, is entrusted to the West Africa Currency Board. The credit is exercised by the Bank of British West Africae dalla Barclay’s (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) Bank.

Religion. – In the northern provinces the majority of the population has now adopted Islam; where this has not penetrated, the indigenous population is still in a very primitive state of culture (see above: Ethnography). In the southern provinces, however, the spread of Islam was opposed by that of Christianity, intensely nourished by numerous missions, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist (Wesleyani) and Presbyterian.

Catholic missions are organized in the apostolic vicariates of the coast of Benin (1870; formerly Dahomey, 1860; Lagos residence), southern Nigeria (1920; formerly apostolic prefecture, 1889; residence in Onitsha), western Nigeria (1911; prefecture, 1884 ; residence in Asaba), and in the apostolic prefectures of northern Nigeria (1929; residence in Kano) and Buea (1923). According to statistics from the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, non-Catholic Christians were 622,255 in 1930; Catholics 170,154.

Nigeria Economy and Politics

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