Colonial Administration


Welcome to class! 

In today’s class, we will be talking about colonial administration. Enjoy the class!

Colonial Administration

Colonial Administration |


  • Historical Perspective (Definition)
  • Reasons for Colonialism and Features of Colonial Rule
  • Classification of Colonial Rule


Colonialism may be defined as an imposition of a more developed culture over a less developed one backed up by expansionist and economic adventure.

It may also be defined as the forceful ruling of one country by another. It is the extension of political control of one powerful nation over a weaker nation. This means the weaker nation is politically dominated and economically exploited by the stronger one. Colonialism is sometimes called imperialism.


The first attempt made by Britain to set up a formal government in Nigeria was in 1900. Before the 1880s, Europe had what is known as the industrial revolution. This brought the desire to source for finished goods. Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal were involved in the colonies in Africa. So, the competition led to the scramble and partition of Africa. At the Berlin West Africa conference of 1884-1885, African lands were shared to European countries as colonies.

The first British attempt to set up a formal government in Nigeria was in 1900. By 1900, what is known as Nigeria today was made up of 3 separate administrative areas or units namely:

  1. Colony of Lagos
  2. Protectorate of Northern Nigeria
  3. Protectorate of Southern Nigeria

In May 1906, Lagos colony and southern protectorate were joined together and renamed the colony and protectorate of Southern Nigeria. In 1914, Lord Frederick Luggard amalgamated Lagos and Southern Protectorate with the Northern Protectorate to form a single colony called Nigeria.

  1. Economic reasons:
  • Raw materials for industries: Following the industrial revolution in Europe between the 18th and 19th century, the European industrialists needed a large quantity of raw materials to feed their industries. This brought them to Africa (Nigeria).
  • Market: The Europeans were also looking for a market outside Europe to sell their excess product. Africa was seen as a new market to be utilized.
  1. Social Reasons: The colonies were seen as a place to settle their surplus population
  2. Cultural Reasons: Colonialism was also seen as a means of civilizing the blacks who were wrongly believed to be primitive.
  3. Humanitarian Reasons:  The Colonizers also explained that it was a means of stopping slave trade and inter-ethnic wars in West Africa.

  4. Religious Reasons: The Europeans adventures to the West African coast had the motive to win souls for God and convert Africans to Christianity.

  5. Prestige motive: Colonialism was seen as a means of enhancing the prestige of metropolitan centres like Britain and France.

  6. Political Reasons: The Europeans wanted to extend their spheres of influence and rule the territories in Africa.

  7. Explorative Motive: Many Europeans explorers came to Africa to explore various parts of Africa to discover various human and natural resources.

  1. Central administration: This was headed by the Government. He was appointed by the Secretary-General of state for colonies. The Governor is the president of both the legislative and executive council.
  2. Native administration: The colonial administration instituted a system of native administration in the protectorate, provinces and districts through the indirect rule system.
  1. Crown colony: This is established by military conquest. The geographical territory is owned by the British crowns as property e.g. Lagos colony.
  2. Protectorate: This refers to territory under the protection of the British government. It was protected against other European conquests e.g. Northern and Southern protectorate of Nigeria.
  3. Trust territory: These were the colonies under the control of Germany before it was defeated by the allied powers e.g. Cameroun, Togo and Tanzania.
  1. Describe the historical background of Colonialism in Nigeria.
  2. State the classification of British colonies in West Africa.
  3. What is political socialization?
  4. List and explain the agents of socialization.


In our next class, we will be talking about the British Colonial Policy.  We hope you enjoyed the class.

Should you have any further question, feel free to ask in the comment section below and trust us to respond as soon as possible.

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