International Journal of Developing and Emerging Economies (IJDEE)

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Ancient Niger Delta Trading States, 1884/85 Negative Sovereignty Treaties, Positive International Law, British Colonization & Good Governance towards the Advancement of Civilization in Nigeria


This socio-legal study examines the 1884/85 imperialistic vis-à-vis negative sovereignty treaties of friendship, commerce and protection, simply called treaties of protection, which were entered into by Great Britain and the Ancient Niger Delta Trading States, so as to maintain and strengthen the cordial relations that were existing between the parties. However, positive international law altered the hitherto proto natural law-based equal and cordial relations between the Ancient Niger Delta Trading States and the Western European nations, from the 15th Century AD, when the Portuguese explorers and merchants were dominant in the Niger Delta region, before the arrival of Great Britain and France in the region about the 18th Century AD.  Positive international law, enhanced by British gunboat diplomacy associated with it, promoted Western imperialism and thereby enabled Great Britain to achieve her imperialist ambition of transforming the erstwhile naturally sovereign Ancient Niger Delta Trading States and their mainland and hinterland ethnic nationality areas into the 1885 British Protectorate of the Niger Districts. Based on British imperialist protectionism over the Niger Districts and the rest of pre-colonial Nigeria, the entire ethnic nationality areas of pre-colonial Nigeria became a single British colonial possession called the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, otherwise called modern Nigeria, in 1914. The British colonial government eventually granted political independence to modern Nigeria in October 1960. From the background of the aforementioned 1884/85 negative sovereignty treaties and continuing agitation of separatist groups in post-colonial Nigeria for improvement of their lots, the study makes a case for good governance, boosted by ethos of natural law and the social contract of governance, towards the advancement of civilization in the country.

Keywords: 1884/85 Negative Sovereignty Treaties; Great Britain; Ancient Niger Delta Trading States; Imperialism; Positive International Law

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