Posted by / Friday, 11 November 2016 / No comments

Why Indirect Rule was opposed by the educated elite in British West Africa

Indirect Rule is the system of government in which the traditional structures of the local people were employed in the administration of the British overseas territories in West Africa. The architect of the system, in West Africa, was Lord Luggard. He first experimented with the system in Northern Nigeria and when it was found to be successful, it was replicated   in other parts of British West Africa. 

Affected constitutional development
The educated elite believed that Indirect Rule contributed to the slow rate at which constitutional and political changes were taking place. This they attributed to the fact that the chiefs who were being used were illiterates.

Slow pace of socio-economic development
The chiefs, who were the kingpins of the system, were suspected to have been siphoning monies from the Native Treasuries. Apart from that, the system did not encourage the support the adequate provision of facilities for the educational and medical institutions.

No leadership training
Another reason was that, the system did not make provisions for the training of people to take up the mantle of leadership when the colonialists eventually left. The chiefs were uneducated, so the educated elite felt that they were not the right material to take up leadership.

Exclusion of the educated elite
Probably the major reason why the educated elite opposed Indirect Rule was their own exclusion from taking part in the colonial administration of the time. This pitched the educated elite against the chiefs in what is described as divide and rule tactic.

Absence of democratic structures
The educated elite also opposed the fact that Indirect Rule did not make room for democratic structures to be laid. There was nothing like elections or the opportunity for people to directly vote for their leaders. Instead, the leaders were imposed on them.

Effect on the chieftaincy institution
In areas where there were no effective chiefs, the British themselves appointed their own chiefs. This did not follow the laid down traditional procedures of appointing chiefs. The result was that this category of chiefs became stooges of the British colonial administration. This, the educated elite were very bitter about.

1. Explain six reasons why the educated elite opposed the policy of Indirect Rule. [12 marks]

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