The Demise of Indirect Rule in the Emirates of Northern Nigeria

  • A. M. Yakubu
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


Scholars of British indirect rule generally regard its practice in the emirates of Northern Nigeria as the epitome of the collaborative relationship between British colonial officials and African aristocracies.’ The system was a response to the inability of F. J. D. Lugard, the conqueror of the emirates, to administer directly and had as its basis the secular ideology of a predominantly Muslim society which had its own established political, legal and fiscal systems. Consequently, the British sought to govern the emirates through the agency of the emirs. They reposed entire control of local government in the offices of the emirs, who were aided mainly by appointee kinsmen, clients and flunkies. The emirs were statutorily bound only by the overriding discretion of the British Resident or his representative, who rarely intervened, except in the few circumstances which threatened to discredit or inconvenience colonial rule. Lugard, who also introduced indirect rule into Northern Nigeria, had decreed in his Political Memoranda, the corpus of instructions to administrative officers, that:

if a native Chief has lost prestige and influence to such a degree that he has to appeal to Government to enforce his orders, he becomes not merely useless but a source of weakness to the Administration.2


Advisory Council British Colonial Colonial Rule Administrative Officer Colonial Administration 
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Copyright information

© Terence Ranger and Olufemi Vaughan 1993

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  • A. M. Yakubu

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