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The functions of the Lieutenant-Governor in French Colonial West Africa

In each territory that made up the French West African Federation, there was a Lieutenant-General as the highest political leader. He served directly below the Governor-General who was in charge of the entire federation into which French West Africa was organized.

Implementing decrees
It was the duty of the Lieutenant-General to determine how decrees passed in France could be applied in his territory.

Budget Preparation
He ensured that the budget for the territory was prepared and submitted to the Governor-General for his approval before it could be implemented.

Functions in relation to chiefs
The Lieutenant-Governor appointed chiefs to the Council of Notables though this was done based on the recommendations of the Commandant du Cercle. The main function of the Council of Notables was advisory. They advised the Commandant du Cercle on issues pertaining to the well being of the cercle. Also upon the recommendations of the commandant du Cercle, the Lieutenant-General appointed every Chef de Canton and his secretary.

Control of the Civil Service
The Lieutenant-General controlled the Civil Service in his territory. He could transfer officials in the Civil Service to anywhere within his territory. Only officials who were specifically mentioned in a decree were exempted from his powers of control.

Maintained Law and order
The Lieutenant-General maintained law and order. He ensured that law and order prevailed in his area of jurisdiction.

Grant subjects exemption from indigenat
Under the indigenat, subjects were subject to imprisonment for up to two years without trial. However, the Lieutenant-Governor had the power to recommend that some subjects be exempted from the obnoxious indigenat. 

Limitation of movement
The Lieutenant-Governor could not exercise control over areas that were not under his jurisdiction. For example, he did not have control over people who live in other territories other than his. he did not also have control over people who moved to British West Africa.

Administrative workload
The Lieutenant-General did not have the time to go round and properly supervise the work of the Commandant du Cerlces because of his workload in the capital and other reasons.

Frequent transfer of governors
The French colonial administration did not allow officials to entrench their tentacles in one territory for too long so they kept transferring them from one place to the other.

Constitutional checks
The Lieutenant-Governor was obliged to act within the constitutional limits. It was not possible for him to take any action on his own that could violate the constitution that empowered him in his office.

Citizens’ control
The French accorded French citizenship to some Africans living in the territories and this went with the right to participate in local and French politics. These citizens could criticize the Lieutenant-Governor on the bases of specific issues of the territory.

Fear of local revolts
Though revolts were duly crushed whenever they occurred, they were happening in the territories. Sometimes the fear of such local rebellion kept the Lieutenant-General on his toes.

1. Highlight six functions of the Lieutenant-General under the French colonial administration between 1900 and 1939.

2. a. Describe the status of the Lieutenant-General in French colonial Africa.
    b. Highlight five of his powers and functions.

3. a. What was the status of the Lieutenant-General in French West Africa.
    b. In which five ways were the powers of the Lieutenant-General controlled.

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