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Why Indirect Rule failed in Southern Nigeria

Hammer Books Law Court Lawyer Paragraphs R
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 Frederick Lugard. He first experimented with the system in Northern Nigeria and when it was successful, it was replicated in other parts of British West Africa. 

Several factors contributed to the failure of indirect rule in southern Nigeria.

Absence of traditional system of taxation
Indirect rule was successful in areas where the people were used to the payment of tax to the traditional authorities. Until the introduction of indirect rule, the people of southern Nigeria were alien to taxation. Therefore, when it was introduced by the British they vehemently opposed it and once there was not enough money in the coffers of the colonial officials, the policy was bound to meet some challenges.

System not suitable for southern Nigeria
The traditional administrative structure that existed in southern Nigeria was not suited to the policy of indirect rule. It is true that the traditional political structure was well organized but the people were not used to an Oba or chief wielding enormous powers. The Oba was just a first among equals but the British colonial masters conferred so much powers on the Oba against traditional norms and this led to failure.

Presence of educated elite in southern Nigeria
There were a lot of educated elite, resident in southern Nigeria who constantly kept the British officials on their toes. These educated elite, some of whom were lawyers and journalists, were British-trained. They opposed the policies of the British if it was found to be detrimental to the interest of the local people. That is why the indirect rule did not succeed in southern Nigeria.
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Absence of chiefs with absolute powers
In southern Nigeria, especially among the Ibos, there were no chiefs with absolute powers as it pertained in northern Nigeria. Chiefs in Iboland ruled with a Council of Elders. The Council sat and discussed issues of importance. At the end of the deliberations, the chief took a decision based on the discussion that was held.

Appointment of Warrant Chiefs
Where the British could not find any chief to play the role of a central figure, they themselves appointed any local person. Usually these were people who were amenable by the British. These Warrant chiefs were clothed with wide powers which were alien to the traditional political setting. Hence, the people refused to cooperate for indirect rule to thrive.

Non participation of educated elite
The educated elite were sidelined in the workings of the policy of indirect rule. Apart from that the system gave enormous powers to the chiefs, to the detriment of the educated elite. On top of that the British colonial officers tried to trample upon the interests of the educated elite and sort of suppress them. The educated elite reacted by opposing the chiefs. This created conflicts between the chiefs and the educated elite and hampered the smooth operations of indirect rule in Southern Nigeria.  

1. Give six reasons for the failure of indirect rule in southern Nigeria.

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