Everything started with what many would portray as the primary oil war, which was battled in the nineteenth century in the zone that would later become Nigeria.
Through the 19th century, palm oil was highly sought-after by the British, to be used as an industrial lubricant for machinery. Remember that Britain turned into the world’s first industrialized nation, in order that they needed assets together with palm oil to keep that going. Palm oil, of course, is a tropical plant native to the Niger Delta, Malaysia’s dominance got here a century later.
By 1870, palm oil had supplanted the slave trade as the principal fare of the Niger Delta, the territory which was once referred to as the Slave Coast.
At first, most of the exchange within the palm oil was uncoordinated, with natives promoting to folks that gave them the first-rate deals. Native chiefs which include former slaves, Jaja of Opobo, have become immensely wealthy because of oil and with wealth comes to impact.
However, in the midst of the Europeans, there was a competition for who would get preferential right of entry to the profitable palm oil alternate. In 1879, George Goldie (1846 – 1925) shaped the United African Company (UAC), which become modeled on the former East India Company.
Goldie effectively took charge of the Lower Niger River. By 1884, his company had 30 buying and selling posts along the Lower Niger.
This monopoly gave the British a robust hand towards the French and the Germans inside the 1884 Berlin Conference. The British were given the region that the UAC operated in, blanketed of their sphere of impact after the Berlin Conference.
When the British got the terms they wanted from other Europeans, they commenced to deal with the African chiefs. Within the bracket of 2 years of 1886, Goldie had signed treaties with tribal chiefs along the Benue and Niger Rivers while additionally penetrating inland. This move inland was against the soul of verbal understandings that had been made to confine the association’s exercises to seaside areas.
By 1886, the organization name changed to “The National Africa Company” and was conceded a regal sanction (fused). The contract approved the organization to oversee the Niger Delta and all grounds around the banks of the Benue and Niger Rivers. Before long, the organization was again renamed. The new name was “Regal Niger Company,” which is now Unilever til today.
To local chiefs, the Royal Niger Company negotiators had pledged free trade in the region. Behind the scenes, they entered private contracts on their terms. Because the (deceitful) personal contracts have been often written in English and signed by the chiefs, the British government enforced them.
So for instance , Jaja of Opobo, when he tried to export the oil by himself, was forced into exile for “obstructing commerce”. As an aside, Jaja was “forgiven” in 1891 and allowed to return home, but he died on the way back, poisoned with a cup of tea.
Seeing what happened to Jaja, some native rulers began to look more closely at the deals they were getting from the Royal Nigeria Company. one among such kingdoms was Nembe (now in Bayelsa), who’s king, Koko Mingi VIII, ascended the throne in 1889 after being a Christian schoolteacher.
Koko Mingi VIII, King Koko for brief , and like most rulers within the yard, was faced with the Royal Nigeria Company encroachment. He also resented the monopoly enjoyed by the Royal Nigeria Company and tried to hunt out favorable trading terms, particularly the Germans in Kamerun.
By 1894 the Royal Nigeria Company increasingly dictated whom the natives could do business with, and denied them direct access to their former markets.
In late 1894, King Koko renounced Christianity and attempted to shape an alliance with Bonny and Okpoma against the Royal Nigeria Company to take back the trade. This is substantial because even as Okpoma joined up, Bonny refused. A harbinger of the successful “divide and rule” tactic.
On 29 January 1895, King Koko led an attack on the Royal Niger Company’s headquarters, which became in Akassa in today’s Bayelsa state. The pre-dawn raid had extra more than a thousand men involved.
King Koko’s assault succeeded in taking hold of the base. He lost 40 of his guys and captured 60 white guys as hostages, in addition to a variety of goods, ammunition and a Maxim gun.
Koko then attempted to barter a release of the hostages in exchange for being allowed to chose his trading partners. British refused to barter with Koko, and he had 40 of the hostages killed.
A British record claimed that the Nembe people ate them. On 20 February 1895, Britain’s Royal Navy, under Admiral Bedford attacked Brass and burned it to the ground. Many Nembe people died and smallpox completed off quite a few others.
By April 1895, business had gone back to normal being the situations that the British desired it, and King Koko was on the run for his life. Brass was fined £500 by the British, £26,825 in today’s money, and the looted weapons was returned in addition to the surviving prisoners.
After a British Parliamentary Commission sat, King Koko was presented terms of settlement by the British, which he rejected and disappeared. The British promptly declared him an outlaw and offered an amount of £200 (£10,730 today) on his head. He decided to commit suicide in exile in 1898.
About that time, another “recalcitrant King”, the Oba of Benin, was run out of town. The pacification of the Lower Niger was well and truly underway.
The immediate effect of the Brass Oil War was that public opinion in Britain turned against the Royal Nigeria Company, so its constitution was revoked in 1899.
Following the revoking of its constitution, the Royal Niger Company offered its holdings to the British government for £865,000 which is equivalent to $1.1 Million in todays value was approximately the price Britain paid to buy the territory which was to become known as Nigeria.