Sunday, August 6, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Ango Abdullahi, Northern Nigerian Colonial Economy and Niger Delta Oil

God bless you my brother. It is not that we were unaware of Prof. Abdullahi's fabrication but we thought it will be demeaning to dignify such an act of intellectual rascality with a reply, as the claim is obvious to the blind, audible to the deaf and tangible to the paralytic. It is pathetic that it came from an elder who apart from being an academic is by our culture expected to be a custodian of the truth. The elder should not descend to the level the the hot blooded young ones who want to inflame passions to score a non-existing point. Rather, he should stay where he properly belongs, to provide soothing balms for a disturbed nation to find its bearing. Nigeria is one and indivisible entity. There are bound to be frictions and and bickering the type we are witnessing. An elder has the duty to help the younger ones to see reasons that the have a common patrimony and not to take sides with a faction. It is like a father taking sides with one of his children when two of them a fighting. The disadvantaged one will doubt whether the father is a common he/she is the child of the father. I commend your fidelity to your calling as an academic and hope that others will be inspired by your example to rise above mundane considerations and let us join hands to build a virile Nigeria. If the United States of America could faction a nation out of citizens from all corners of the earth and say ill plurius unum( out many one} Nigeria which for all its" largeness" is just the size of the state of Texas has no excuse to factionalise the way we are doing. We should work out an acceptable way of peacefully, co-existing.
On Sat, 8/5/17, Farooq A. Kperogi <> wrote:

Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Ango Abdullahi, Northern Nigerian Colonial Economy and Niger Delta Oil
To: "" <>
Date: Saturday, August 5, 2017, 10:15 PM

Ango Abdullahi, Northern Nigerian Colonial
Economy and Niger Delta Oil

Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.Twitter: @farooqkperogi
In my May 6, 2017 column titled "Top
8 Popular National Lies that Won't Die in
Nigeria," I called attention to out-and-out
historical lies that vast swathes of Nigerians treasure and
reproduce intergenerationally, and that are, I said, almost
"impossible to uproot."
One of such lies, I pointed out, is the
idea, popular among northern Nigerians, that the Northern
Region's resources financed oil exploration in the Niger
Delta. I wrote: "Professor Ango Abdullahi actually
repeated this lie recently. He said this, ironically, while
exhorting Emir Sanusi II to 'go and read history.' The
truth is that not a dime of northern Nigeria's money
contributed to oil exploration in the Niger
"When oil was discovered in commercial
quantities in Oloibiri in 1956, Shell bore the financial
burden for the exploration. Other Euro-American oil
companies later joined in oil exploration. It wasn't until
1973 that the Nigerian federal government acquired 30
percent shares in oil companies. By 1973, Northern Nigeria
had ceased to exist….
"In any case, colonial records show
that the biggest motivation for amalgamating northern and
southern Nigeria was because northern Nigeria wasn't
financially self-sustaining and the British Imperial
Government said it would never subsidize colonial
administration anywhere in Africa. So Lord Lugard
amalgamated the two regions and used the surplus from the
south to sustain the north. It's illogical to say that a
region that wasn't financially self-sustaining financed
oil exploration in the Niger
Of the eight historical lies I pointed
out, this was the stickiest among historically challenged
northerners. I use the term "historically challenged"
advisedly because several northern Nigerian professional
historians called or emailed me to confirm that what I wrote
was a basic fact that every beginning undergraduate in
Nigerian economic history knows. They wondered why someone
of the stature of Professor Ango Abdullahi would ridicule
himself by repeating discredited and falsifiable lies. I
told one of them to write a guest column to educate our
people on the economic history of the region. "I am not as
brave as you are," he said. But when did educating people
with the facts become bravery?
I am a northerner with as much stake in
the region as anybody else, but I am also a truth-seeking
academic who isn't held back from telling the truth by
maudlin sentimentality or fear of emotive pushback from the
vulgar herd. I go where the truth leads me, even if it is to
facts that cause me personal discomfort. That's how my dad
raised me, and no amount of emotional blackmail will stop
Several of the readers who continue to
angrily react to my column say I didn't provide any proof
for my assertions. So, here we go. In an 89-page report for
the British Parliament titled, "Amalgamation of Northern
and Southern Nigeria, and Administration, 1912-1919,"
Frederick D. Lugard clearly said two reasons informed his
proposal to amalgamate the North and the South: finance and
railways. On finance, he wrote:
"In 1906 a further step in
amalgamation was effected in the South. Southern Nigeria and
Lagos became one Administration under the title of the
Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. From this
date the material prosperity of the South increase with
astonishing rapidity. The liquor
duties—increased from 3s. in 1901 to 3s. 6d. in
1905—stood at 5s. 6d. a gallon in 1912, and afforded an
ever-increasing revenue, without any diminution in the
quantity imported. They yielded a sum of £1,138,000 in
"The North, largely dependent on
the annual grant from the Imperial Government, was barely
able to balance its budget with the most parsimonious
economy, and was starved of the necessary staff, and unable
to find funds to house its officers properly. Its energies
were concentrated upon the development of the Native
Administration and the revenue resulting from direct
taxation. Its distance from the coast (250 miles) rendered
the expansion of trade difficult. Thus the anomaly was
presented of a country with an aggregate revenue practically
equal to its needs, but divided into two by an arbitrary
line of latitude. One portion was dependent on a grant paid
by the British taxpayer, which in the year before
Amalgamation stood at £136,000, and had averaged £314,500
for the 11 years ending March, 1912" (p. 7; view
the PDF of the entire report
Again, a 1935 report by colonial
government statistician S.M. Jacob, titled The Taxation
and Economics of Nigeria, gives a vivid account of the
immense disparities in the revenues between the North and
the South. It shows, for instance, that one of the reasons
the North was financially disadvantaged was that
agricultural produce from the region had less economic value
in the international market than agricultural produce from
the South.
There is also a 202-page record of the
correspondence between colonial administrators in Nigeria
and their home government in Britain on the necessity of
amalgamating the North and the South. Copious references
were made to the North's economic disadvantage and to the
economic lifeline the region needed from the South to
survive. The record of the correspondence, which took place
between May 15, 1913 and January 27, 1914, is held in the
British National Archives, and can be accessed with the
following reference number: CO
But two things need to be made clear.
First, the North's economic disadvantage relative to the
South wasn't a consequence of the South's superior work
ethic—or the North's laziness. It was because, being
close to the coast, the South had (still has) ports, which
brought foreign goods that attracted hefty tax revenue. It
was, in fact, Lagos that almost singlehandedly gave the
South its economic advantage. Lagos still accounts for more
than half of Nigeria's IGR.
Second, it also so happened that the
cash crops that the colonialists introduced to the
South—cocoa, palm oil, kernels, rubber—had more economic
value in the international market than Northern Nigeria's
cash crops such as groundnuts and cotton. In terms of
quantity, the North produced substantially more agricultural
produce than the South but, by a twist of circumstances, the
North's crops didn't have as much economic value as the
This isn't something to be proud or
ashamed of. We are talking here of naked colonial
exploitation of our people for the benefit of Britain. It
means, in effect, that the colonial conquerors exploited the
South more thoroughly than they did the North. That's
neither a cause for pride nor a reason to be ashamed. In my
undergraduate days, I recall getting a kick out of Lord
Salisbury's angry description of my part of northern
Nigeria, that is, Borgu, as "a malarious African
desert…not worth a war." As a starry-eyed Marxist
then, I took delight in the knowledge that imperialists
didn't find my place worthy of economic
Anyway, if the North wasn't
economically self-sustaining, how could it possibly finance
oil exploration in the Niger Delta? That's a wild leap of
logic. Plus, it's a well-known fact that it was Shell, not
the Nigerian government, that bore full financial
responsibility for oil exploration in the Niger
As George G. Frynas points out in
his Oil in Nigeria: Conflict and Litigation between Oil
Companies and Village Communities, Shell spent more than
6 million pounds of its own money between 1937 and 1953
before striking oil in Akata, near Eket, in non-commercial
quantities. After spending some more millions, it found oil
in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in 1956. Neither the
Nigerian government nor the northern Nigerian government
made any financial contribution to Shell's exploration
Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.Associate ProfessorJournalism & Emerging
School of Communication & MediaSocial Science
Building Room 5092 MD
2207402 Bartow
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.comTwitter: @farooqkperogAuthor of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms
of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism
is that you are constantly being either proven right or
pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will


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