The reasons the British used Indirect Rule in Nigeria

Initially, the Nigerian protectorate comprised three separately administered regions. These were:




  • The Lagos colony Protectorate,
  • The Southern Nigeria Protectorate
  • The Northern Nigeria Protectorate.

These entities were then amalgamated (merged or joined) under one administration due to difficulties in administering them separately.

In 1906, Lagos was integrated into Southern Nigeria. In 1914, the Northern and Southern protectorates were merged to form one Nigeria Protectorate.




The following are reasons why the British used Indirect Rule in Nigeria.

  • Lack of enough European manpower to effectively control the vast Northern Nigeria Protectorate.
  • The Indirect system of government was cost-effective, for only a few British officials would be employed, leaving the African traditional leaders to do most of the administrative work at the local level.
  • Indirect Rule helped dilute African resistance to British rule as the local chiefs and elders who had governed during the pre-colonial period retained their positions at the local level.
  • Poor transport and communication network in the vast Nigeria protectorate prevented the few British personnel from carrying out their duties.




  • Indirect Rule had succeeded in Uganda and India.
  • In northern Nigeria, there already existed a well-established system of government based on Islamic law.
  • African chiefs easily managed with the poor infrastructure.
  • The Dual Mandate policy encouraged the colony’s development for its own good and that of Britain.