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.