Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria

By John E. Flint; Gerald S. Graham | Go to book overview

9
The Revenge of the Brassmen

DURING the years in which Goldie had faced, and triumphed over, the threat from Mizon and the French, he had also been confronted by the fiercest campaign of opposition from Liverpool. Once the scheme for a chartered administration in the Oil Rivers had been scouted, the Liverpool interests, both large and small, shippers and traders, were able to build up a substantial unity, and to ground their complaints on the basic injustice of entrusting rule to a corporation which itself traded. Though this campaign could muster a considerable number of Members of Parliament, and could mount a formidable press campaign, it was able to do little more than force through one or two comparatively minor reforms, which did nothing to alter the basic monopolistic structure of the company's administration. Goldie fought back in his own way, and, as we shall see, eventually silenced his European critics in 1893. The Africans of the Oil Rivers thereafter had no one to voice their grievances, and the stage was set for violence.

Paradoxically it was Goldie's very success in resisting the pressure from France, and his brilliant defence of the eastern frontier, which permitted the situation in the Niger delta to slide downhill towards what now appears to the historian as an inevitable tragedy. Whilst Goldie could effectively protect British strategic interests on the Niger and Benue, the Government, though recognizing the truth of many of the criticisms levelled against the Niger Company, had no incentive to hamstring Goldie, and could not contemplate taking on the direct responsibility for ruling the Niger Territories when there appeared to be no urgent need to do so.

-187-

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