DISCUSS NORTHERN NIGERIA ALONG THESE LINES
Northern Nigeria was a British protectorate which lasted from 1900 until 1914 and covered the northern part of what is now Nigeria. The protectorate spanned 255,000 miles (410,000 km) and included the states of the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kano Emirate and parts of the former Bornu Empire, conquered in 1902. The first High Commissioner of the protectorate was Frederick Lugard, who actively suppressed revolutions and created a system of administration built around native authorities. The Protectorate was ended in 1914, when its area was unified with the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Lagos Colony, becoming the Northern Province of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.
MAP OF NORTHERN NIGERIA
The Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885 provided the area that would become the Northern Nigeria Protectorate to the British. The Royal Niger Company was formed in 1886 with George Taubman Goldie as the vice governor. The Company negotiated trade agreements and political agreements, sometimes coercive, with many of the chieftains, emirs, and the Sokoto Caliphate. In 1897, Frederick Lugard was the appointed head of the West African Frontier Force which was tasked with stopping Fulani resistance and possible French incursions in the northwest area.
On 1 January 1890, the Royal Niger Company’s charter was revoked and the British government took control. The Royal Niger Company was paid £865,000 and was given the rights to half of all mining revenue in a large part of the areas for 99 years in exchange for ceding the territory to the British government. Lugard was appointed the High Commissioner of the newly created Northern Nigeria Protectorate. Zungeru became the headquarters for the protectorate in 1902 because it was the most northerly city accessible by river transport.
Military operations began in 1902 and continued for about five years of sporadic fighting. The remnants of the Bornu Empire were conquered in 1902 and the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kano Emirate were taken over in 1903. Fighting continued in 1904 in Bassa. In 1906 a large Mahdist revolution began outside of the city of Sokoto in the village of Satiru, a combined force of the British and the British-appointed Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Attahiru II, destroyed the town and killed most residents involved. After 1907 there were fewer revolts and use of military force by the British and the focus of the High Commissioner turned toward taxation and administration.
2. GEOGRAPHY AND SETTING
The highest point in Northern Nigeria is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m (7,936 ft). The main rivers are the Niger and the Benue River which converge at Kabba province and empty into the Atlantic Ocean. The expansive valleys of the Niger and Benue River valleys dominate the southern areas of the country. To the southeast of the Benue river, hills and mountains which forms the Mambilla Plateau create the highest Plateau in Northern Nigeria. This plateau extends to the border with Cameroon, this montane land forms part of the Bamenda Highlands in Cameroon. The Great savannah belt of the Great Plains of Hausa land dominates much of the rest of the country. This region experiences rainfall between 20 and 60 inches (508 and 1,524 mm) per year. The savannah zone’s three categories are Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, Sudan savannah, and Sahel savannah. Guinean forest-savanna mosaic is plains of tall grass which are interrupted by trees. Sudan savannah is similar but with shorter grasses and shorter trees. Sahel savannah consists of patches of grass and sand, found in the northeast. In the Sahel region, rain is less than 20 inches (508 mm) per year and the Sahara Desert is encroaching. In the dry north-east corner of the country lies Lake Chad, which Northern Nigeria shares with Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Northern Nigeria is an ethnically and religiously diverse state. The, Hausa, Fula and Birom peoples dominate much of the North Western and central parts of the Country. While the Hausa and Fula are chiefly Muslims, they have a very rich Christian history, The Ancient Hausa Kings of Gobir ‘Masu Sakandami’ – the Cross Bearers were Christians long before the coming of European evangelists and a large Christian Hausa and Fula minority thrives in many of the North Western Provinces. A substantial part of the Huusa population also adheres to ancient religion of Hausa Animism.
The Biroms of the Plateau and the Tiv and Jukun of the Benue are chiefly Christian, they were converted to Christianity after the colonization of the country by the British. The Nupe, Kebawa and Yoruba peoples occupy the south western parts of the Counrty, these people are also mainly Muslims with Emirate type Native systems that predate the country’s existence.
3. RELIEF AND DRAINAGE
In general, the topography of Nigeria consists of plains in the north and south interrupted by plateaus and hills in the centre of the country. The Sokoto Plains lie in the northwestern corner of the country, while the Borno Plains in the northeastern corner extend as far as the Lake Chad basin. The Lake Chad basin and the coastal areas, including the Niger River delta and the western parts of the Sokoto region in the far northwest, are underlain by soft, geologically young sedimentary rocks. Gently undulating plains, which become waterlogged during the rainy season, are found in these areas. The characteristic landforms of the plateaus are high plains with broad, shallow valleys dotted with numerous hills or isolated mountains, called inselbergs; the underlying rocks are crystalline, although sandstones appear in river areas. The Jos Plateau rises almost in the centre of the country; it consists of extensive lava surfaces dotted with numerous extinct volcanoes
The major drainage areas in Nigeria are the Niger-Benue basin, the Lake Chad basin, and the Gulf of Guinea basin. The Niger River, for which the country is named, and the Benue, its largest tributary, are the principal rivers. The Niger has many rapids and waterfalls, but the Benue is not interrupted by either and is navigable throughout its length, except during the dry season. Rivers draining the area north of the Niger-Benue trough include the Sokoto, the Kaduna, the Gongola, and the rivers draining into Lake Chad. The coastal areas are drained by short rivers that flow into the Gulf of Guinea.
The climatic conditions in the northern part of Nigeria exhibit only two different seasons, namely, a short wet season and a prolonged dry season. Temperatures during the day remain constantly high while humidity is relatively low throughout the year, with little or no cloud cover.
There are, however, wide diurnal ranges in temperature (between nights and days) particularly in the very hot months. The mean monthly temperatures during the day exceed 36°C while the mean monthly temperatures at night fall, most times to below 22°C.
Thus much of Nigeria and the region to the west experiences two rainy periods as the intertropical convergence move north or south; but in the north the two rainy seasons merge to give a single wet season between July and September.
The few high plateaus of Jos and Biu, and the Adamawa highlands, experience climatic conditions which are markedly different from the generalized dry and wet period in northern Nigeria. Temperatures are 5 – 10°C lower due to high altitude than in the surrounding areas. Similarly, the annual rainfall figures are higher than in areas around them, particularly on the windward side.
Northern Nigeria comprises of 62% of Nigeria’s land mass and 53.7% of the national population. Majority of the people in northern Nigeria are Muslims and the culture of these people reflects largely Islamic influences. Western-style education was introduced into the southern part of Nigeria by Christian missionaries in the mid 1800th. On the other hand, it took the Europeans another 64 years to establish the first primary school in the north in 1907. European form of education was initially rejected by the people of the north regarding it as a threat to their culture and religion. For many years people were not willing to send their children (especially girls) to those schools. Early marriage was popularly supported by most families and large percentages of girls were rarely allowed to attend formal western schools or go beyond primary school education.
5. LAND TENURE
Traditional land tenure throughout Nigeria was based on customary laws under which land was considered community property. An individual had usufructuary rights to the land he farmed in his lineage or community area. He could possess the land as long as he used it to his families or society’s benefit, and could pass the land on to heirs and pledge its use to satisfy a debt, but could not sell or mortgage it. The right of disposal belonged only to the community, which, acting through traditional authorities, exercised this right in accordance with customary law.
The Fulani conquest of much of northern Nigeria in the early 1800s brought a change in land tenure in areas under Fulani control. The conquerors bestowed fiefs on certain individuals, who sometimes appointed overseers with the power to allocate unused land without regard for local community interests. One result was a growing number of grants to strangers during the nineteenth century because overseers sought to increase the revenue from their landlords’ holdings. This practice gradually reduced the extent of bush land and encouraged the migration of farmers to urban areas that began toward the end of the nineteenth century.
In the early 1900s, the British established hegemony over the Fulani and declared all land in the former Fulani fiefs to be public property. Subsequently, in contrast to southern Nigeria, where the community owned land in the north the government required occupancy permits. However, at the same time the northern authorities were charged with supervision and protection of the indigenous population’s traditional rights, and a general reversion to customary land-tenure practices occurred. In predominantly Muslim areas, traditional land inheritance laws were allowed to remain in force. As a result of the government’s support of local customary laws, encroachment by outsiders appears largely to have been halted. In 1962 the government of the Northern Region placed formal restrictions on landholding by individuals who were not members of a northern community.
During the 1970s, however, individuals and business enterprises drove up land prices, especially in newly urbanized areas, by investing heavily in real estate. In the south, customary owners turned from land sales to more profitable high-rent leasing arrangements. In the north, where land was held only by permit, farmers on the outskirts of cities became victims of developmental rezoning. Their permits were revoked, and, only minimally compensated, they moved to other areas. The land was then subdivided and sold at high prices.
In response to a potential crisis in land distribution, the Federal Military Government promulgated the Land Use Decree of March 1978, establishing a uniform tenure system for all of Nigeria. Subsequently incorporated in the constitution of 1979, the decree effectively nationalized all land by requiring certificates of occupancy from the government for land held under customary and statutory rights and the payment of rent to the government. However, the decree stipulated that anyone in a rural or urban area who normally occupied land and developed it would continue to enjoy the right of occupancy, and could sell or transfer his interest in the development of the land.
The main purpose of the 1978 decree was to open land to development by individuals, corporations, institutions, and governments. The decree gave state and local government’s authority to take over and assign any undeveloped land.
Northern Nigeria is now known for many negative things, which many believed is promoted by extreme poverty in the region accentuated by continual irresponsible leadership that has taken over the region, leaders who fail to follow the footstep of one of the greatest leadership example who show complete transparency in leadership, backed by honesty and humility, Sir Ahmadu Bello will never forgive these men who continue to use his name to deceive the masses while in the real sense they are busy destroying the legacies he left behind.
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