Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria

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

13
Decline and Fall

It is usually stated that the decision to revoke the Niger Company's charter was agreed secretly as a concession to France during the negotiations for the Convention of 1898. Mary Kingsley went so far as to complain that the French had 'secured Goldie's head on a charger'.1 We have seen that this was not so; the decision to revoke the charter had to be made on grounds of policy long before the negotiations with France had begun in earnest, and even the basis of the final compensation to be paid to the company had been thrashed out with Goldie long before the signature of the Convention. It might be imagined that once the Convention had been signed, the transfer of administration to the Crown would have been rapidly accomplished. In fact the charter was not revoked for another eighteen months. Despite Chamberlain, the mills of the Colonial Office still ground slowly.

In these last months of the charter the Niger Company's administration lapsed into near-chaos. Knowing that the administration would soon come to an end, there was no incentive for Goldie to spend more than an absolute minimum on government. The company's staff and steamers were diverted almost completely to trade, there was a huge increase in turnover, and profits rose by fifty per cent.2 But even if Goldie had continued as before, it seems likely that his efforts would have had very little effect on the political situation in the northern Emirates. The process begun by the victories in Ilorin and Nupe

____________________
1
Gwynn S., Life of Mary Kingsley, London, 1933, p. 182.
2
See Appendex I for details of profits.

-295-

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