How Governor Donald Cameron reformed Indirect rule in Nigeria

In 1931, Donald Cameron was appointed governor of Nigeria. He tried to modernize Indirect Rule by:

  • Checking (limiting) the growing independence of the Emirs in the north.
  • Attempting to elevate the declining power of the Alafin in Yorubaland.
  • Stressing the development of institutions instead of preserving them. E.g. he appointed educated people to some chiefly councils in southern Nigeria. However, these were mere adjustments that did not meet the changing needs of the society.

What were the disadvantages of the Indirect Rule?

In spite of its success in Northern Nigeria, Indirect rule had the following disadvantages:

  • Poor or lack of communication between British officials and African chiefs due to language barrier.
  • The new duties of traditional leaders such as tax collection and recruitment of labour made these leaders very unpopular among their subjects.
  • Some regions lagged behind in terms of development due to opposition to change in lifestyles by local leaders such as the Emirs of northern Nigeria.
  • Local rulers individually lost their independence to the British.
  • The chiefs and their councils often disregarded what was unfamiliar to them e.g. Christianity and forced labour.
  • It needed a lot of adaptation where indigenous administration structures did not exist.

  • British officials lacked the long, patient and skilful effort needed for education of chiefs and councillors in modern ideas and therefore gave up easily.
  • Northern Nigeria was isolated from other parts of Nigeria, which had a negative effect on the general development of the north compared to the south.