The Royal Niger Company (RNC) and the Making of Modern Nigeria, 1879-1899

Author(s): Sunday Moses Adebayo Aloko

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Published: 2023-09-18

Abstract: The paper examines the complex historical processes that culminated in the founding of modern Nigeria since the 19th century on the backdrop of primary and secondary data of historical research. These events were the abolition of the slave trade and the introduction and promotion of legitimate trade and commerce by Christian missionaries and imperial companies. This was in the era of the new imperialism, which was characterised by trade monopoly and imperial contestations amongst European trading companies and merchants. The competing commercial companies were later chattered to act on behalf of their imperial governments in acquired territories and to acquire more territories for them where possible. It was primarily due to the industrial revolution which started in Britain and created the need for raw materials, which were considered readily available in Africa to feed their home industries. It argues that the resultant enhanced contacts between the British and the peoples of the Nigerian area, facilitated by these consequential historical developments, holds the key to understanding the formation of Nigeria in 1914. The reason being that the British utilised the agency of the Royal Niger Company (RNC) to establish her influence and conditions necessary for the eventual colonisation of Nigeria. The study contends that, Goldie’s chattered RNC not only acquired and rule territories on behalf of the Crown and secured British imperial interest in the area now called Nigeria, but also made it possible for the British to shrug off intense rivalry from their arch rivals, the French and Germans. To this end, it argued that Fredrick Lord Lugard’s amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914, only built on the foundation which Goldie and his company, the RNC, had already laid.