The Question of British Southern Cameroons’ Autonomy in the Evolution of Nigeria Federation, 1945-1961

Mathias Azang Adig

Abstract

The connection of Southern Cameroons to the Nigerian Federation by Britain after the First World War, worked to the disadvantage of Southern Cameroons’ sovereignty and political ambitions. With her international status as a Trust Territory, Southern Cameroons was marginalized by the colonial administration which failed to recognize her as a separate territory within the Nigerian Federation. Under such dispensation, Southern Cameroonians felt that for such a Nigerian connection to be of any benefit to the territory, it should be granted an autonomous regional status in line with the existing regions in Nigeria. This strain of relations caused Cameroonians to animate Nigeria political scene with series of events which became very instrumental in influencing the direction and nature of the evolution of the Nigerian federation. This feud for regional autonomy which dominated Nigerian politics was undertaken by pressures groups, political parties, and at individual levels through vocal voices, petitions, conferences and walkouts which expressed their grievances. The paper argues that the granting of quasi and full regional status in 1954 and 1959 respectively to Southern Cameroons was a consequence of their demonstrations. On this score Nigeria rose from three to four regions under colonial rule. From this paradigm we conclude that the history of the evolution of Nigerian federation can never be complete without the Southern Cameroons factor. Archival data and analyses of existing literature have provided evidence for this conclusion.

Keywords

Colonial administration, Southern Cameroons, Nigeria federation, Autonomy

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