Babatunde Fagoyinbo

Colonial Era Infrastructures


Birds Prepare Their Nests for Comfort

A newly resettled rodent through capture would search for a means of escape, if it fails, it would search out materials for building a nest and make itself comfortable. So also are birds. If it locates a new settlement by itself, it will prepare a comfortable nest and do everything possible to ensure its safety.

Man wants to maintain a certain standard of living below which he feels uncomfortable. Once he is in control, he carries out every activity that will ensure that the standard he is used to is either met or surpassed.

Towards the end of 1979, a group of students gathered themselves in a bid to denounce apartheid. It was a wonderful and welcome idea. They showed a film that presented a farmstead with the owner, his wife, a child and a dog occupying a two-bedroom duplex with two large sitting rooms, an expansive kitchen, two balconies and a terraced and floral-decorated surrounding. Each of the workers’ apartments contained a sitting room and a bedroom large enough to contain minimal sitting chairs and a bed respectively. The family of the worker that was shown comprised the man, his wife, five children and three family members, something similar to Figure 2)

That film was a wrong prelude to the message to be passed across.

As the lecture was about to begin, I asked for permission to raise an observation. The permission was granted and I observed as follows:

  1. The Boer built a house that was comfortable and adequate to the standard of life he’d been exposed to;
  2. He built a house that he believed was adequate for his workers and enough to accommodate all;
  • He chose to limit his family to three persons and a dog, it might be providence that chose the size for him;
  1. The worker decided to procreate five children and possibly expecting more;
  2. Some members of his family and/or his wife’s felt it was comfortable for them to squat with him and his family agreed to it;
  3. Can you please assess and compare these items I’ll mention as part of this lecture you want to present?
    1. The percentage of junior staff accommodated by this university and the percentage of professors accommodated; and
    2. The level of disparity between a professor’s lodge and a junior staff lodge with respect to that of the Boer and his workers’ lodges.


Farm Workers’ Housing. Insert 1 Boer’s House; Insert 2 Boer’s Family

The colonialists didn’t include these acts in their handover notesI thank God it was then; not now. I might have been lynched and killed. The seminar couldn’t hold; though I suggested that the seminar should be postponed until they got these facts. I hate apartheid. It is going on right now in Nigeria, as well as other countries in Africa. Certain ethnic group hiding under religion and right of grazing have taken it upon themselves to kill and slaughter human beings without the government doing anything about it. Human beings have been forced into Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) Camps for cattle to take over their homes and farms

Pre-Colonial Era Infrastructure

Basic framework of interdependent networks made up of facilities, services and personnel are needed for effective productive and efficient functioning of a community, organisation or society. For the well-being, economic growth and prosperity of any community, there must be integrated, purposeful, sustainably designed infrastructure for harnessing resources, carrying/transporting them to processing centres, processing to semi-finished or finished products, conveying to locations of needs and executing distribution capabilities that provide a reliable flow of products and services essential to the accomplishment of the objectives and aspirations of the community in relation to other communities.


In the North, the Hausa adopted a feudal system of government which was also inherited by the Fulani, their conquerors, with power centralised and later delegated to emirs who were vassals of the Sultan of Sokoto. However, Islamic laws did give specific powers to the emirs while traditions and conventions stated the limits of their power. The feudal system of government was found suitable to Britain that did not want to invest much on personnel.

Modernisation of the feudal form of government brought in a well-organised fiscal system and a trained judiciary. The Kanuri founded a dynasty in Bornu about a century before the modern states of the Hausa. Like the Hausa, the Kanuri had also established a relatively powerful type of government.

In the West, culturally the most homogeneous area, the Yoruba and the Edo operated a modern form of government as empires (Benin, Ife and Oyo) and Kingdoms. The paramount rulers operated their respective territories through their chiefs. The chiefs collected tribute from the people and divided it with the Oba of Benin, Ooni of lfe, the Alaafin of Oyo respectively. In Yorubaland, outside lfe and Oyo, Oba was the central chief. He was the priest as well as the protector of his subjects. He was the symbol of peace and honour but answerable to Ooni of lfe and Alaafin of Oyo depending on which empire he belonged to.

The most heterogeneous part of Nigeria is the East with the lgbos as the majority of the population. But for the riverine areas, the people were elaborately organised into small semi-autonomous communities as clan, village, or family. Kingship exists in Calabar, Opobo, Bonny, Ogoni and Onitsha with political powers comparable to that of Yoruba Obas.

Physical infrastructure provision

Pre-colonial physical infrastructures available in Africa are limited to bush paths, carved boats, hoes, cutlasses, baskets, calabash, clay pots, earth-mound stoves, mortar and pestle and in the Savannah belt we have in addition donkeys, bullocks and camels to assist in the transportation of goods. Water supply is limited to scooping of ponds and digging of wells while we still transport in the rainforest belt carrying loads on our heads. To date, our agriculture has not advanced beyond that level. Our healthcare delivery system has gone worse; having now more than 90% of our herbal healthcare centres as fake.

Economic infrastructure

Prior to the British effective occupation of present-day Nigeria, there were various empires and kingdoms with their respective modes of administration centred on joint ownership of land but trusted into the hands of family heads in the southern parts and community heads in the north. There were periodic markets that bound neighbouring communities together and interconnected by footpaths.

The transportation network was controlled by nature. In the southern parts, transportation was facilitated by waterways that had the capacity to take paddled boats. The sizes of the boats were dictated by the available depth of water and range of navigation limited by the reach of stable flows. the impressive network of Lower Niger, Benue, Donga, Katsina-Ala, Gongola, Cross, Ogun, Osun and Anambra Rivers and the numerous creeks along the coast provided routes of contact between the peoples cutting across the north and south axis, while the associated trading posts and fortes provided the points of exchange of goods and farm produce. Land route networks were dense in Benin, Igala, Igbo and Yoruba areas facilitated by established empires like Benin, Ife and Oyo, and various Igala and Yoruba kingdoms,

In the north, transportation was facilitated by the use of beasts of burden (oxen, camels and the donkey) as against the south where due to tsetse infestation human carriage was predominant. The Niger-Benue combination nurtured three major kingdoms: The Jukun Empire embraced most of the Benue valley and exercised influence over much of northern Nigeria as far as Kano, and as far as the estuary of the Cross River in the south; the Igala kingdom controlled areas around the confluence of the Niger and Benue, and traded below the confluence as far south as Aboh and Onya at the head of the Niger Delta. The big rivers Niger and Kaduna form the axes of the country of Nupe kingdom. These rivers also served as the kingdom’s effective and natural system of communication. The strategic location of these three kingdoms on the Niger-Benue meant that the history of traffic on these rivers would have a great deal to do with the history and relations of peoples comprising them (Agajelu, 2018).

Land routes made Awka to penetrate into many parts of the Igbo hinterland with their crafts and blacksmithing and carving, the Nok culture, the Ife and Benin bronze crafts, the Oyo aso oke and the Egba aso adire textiles all survived mainly on land routes. Kano, Maiduguri axis thrived on caravans to Timbuktu and the horn of Africa and the Arabs.

Agriculture was mainly hoe and cutlass technology and irrigation limited to shadoof system. Healthcare delivery was herbal and dosages were at the discretion of the herbalists; mystified in incantations. With respect to the pre-colonial use of currency, trade by barter was a medium of exchange. However, in an attempt to unify the mode of valuation and create a medium that would be acceptable, there were several creations across the ethnic groups and over time, multiple currencies emerged with some monies locally produced and acquired, and others imported through intercontinental trades, such as the Atlantic slave trade. Cowries were imported to West Africa via land from the Maldives Islands and later became one of the currencies of the slave trade, augmented by copper manilas (bracelets), iron bars, textiles, glass beads, liquors, and other imported objects (Guyer and Pallaver, 2018).

Infrastructures Provision in the Colonial Era

The first set of Europeans that visited Africa came for trade. Due to the problems of access, their operations were largely limited to the riverine areas but their impacts were felt in the hinterland through the activities of local traders who purchased goods from the hinterland to sell to the European traders. The riverine traders built warehouses and river ports as deemed necessary.

Others were Arabs who came by caravans through the desert. They left no infrastructures for history but brought Islam.

Next were the missionaries and the explorers who were respectively adapters to local conditions to be able to win the people for Christ and field men who moved from site to site in search of resources available and returned home for their reports. Infrastructures were not paramount to their missions.

With the advent of the slave trade, the operation remained the same. They had no need for infrastructures other than the “warehouses” used and which were unhealthy

Infrastructure is fundamental to success in businesses because businesses need roads to have production inputs delivered and hence to deliver finished products and services to their customers. The slave merchants contented themselves with delivery to them at the river and ocean ports in the coastal areas and trekking along the Sahara Desert.

Incursions into Africa


Pre-Colonial Africa

Germany’s fall in WW1 resulted in dividing its colonies between Britain and France to administer on behalf of the League of Nations (, 2018). While France appointed ministers among the people to represent their people in France, Britain used indirect rule. Before 1880, Europeans had only made small incursions into Africa, with forts and trading posts mainly around the coast; the interior, until then, remained largely inaccessible to Europeans because of disease and difficulty of travel. In 1884-5, the Berlin Conference was called to carve up Africa between Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Germany. The Berlin Conference laid down ground rules for the partitioning of Africa. They drew lines on a map of places they had never been to, with no regards for existing kingdoms, geography or the people that lived there; believing that they were bringing civilisation to ‘savage peoples’ (Boddy-Evans, 2017). Navigation on the Niger and Congo rivers was to be free to all, and to declare a protectorate over a region the European coloniser must show effective occupancy and develop a ‘sphere of influence’. They introduced Christianity, trade, education, justice and a good deal of exploitation and forced labour. They also introduced cash crop agriculture to feed their home industries with raw materials.

India championed the quest for independence commencing with the idea of an Indian nationalist movement opposed to British rule dated from the 1850s. (EB, 2018) and actualising same in August 1947.

The actualisation of socio-economic is contingent on human capital made up of trained and motivated people of great ideas and abilities, capable of innovation, exploration, science and philosophy. The existence of a committed coordinating team, the government in the case of a country, to channel the aggregate action of these human resources acting in concert determines the status of the community.

Infrastructures Emplacement

Provision of Colonial Infrastructure


Upon amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates, indirect rule was practiced in the north using the existing traditional rulership system, while local authorities comprising District, Divisional and Provincial Councils were established in the south. Occupation was not without stiff resistance from the indigenous chiefdoms, kingdoms and empires. This made the British imperial government foist on the people coercive administrative instruments intended to extract their obedience and submission.

Under the Indirect Rule system, local authorities were conferred with legislative, judicial and executive control over their communities; empowering them to make laws, regulate the conduct of affairs in their areas of jurisdiction, adjudicated cases and carry out administrative functions with the sole objective of maintaining law and order and general development in their localities.

The colonial army, the police, the judiciary and prison services served as the main instruments of coercion. In the 1880s, the British government established the West African Frontier Force. The WAFF served to subjugate and “pacify” the people of the colony. With the enormous military might of the colonial power, the people were forced to submit to the colonial administration

Banking and Currency

Monetisation was a major aim of the colonial fiscal policy to enable the integration of the colonial economy into the imperial capitalist economy. A new and common currency was needed to replace the different currencies circulating in various parts of the country. A common currency would ensure portability, sustenance of export market economy and the establishment of a national market. The introduction of the British coins met a strong competition from the manila which was highly valued at the time. Acceptance of the British currency was made possible through the expansion of wage labour, taxation payable only with the metropolitan currency, penetration of the colonial economy by the British capitalism and integration of the local economy into the metropolitan system

The monetisation of the Nigerian economy necessitated the establishment of commercial banks. The first successful bank to operate in Nigeria was established in Lagos in 1892 by African Banking Corporation but it was sold to Elder Dempster who transformed it to Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) in 1893 BBWA changed its name to Bank of West Africa (BWA) in 1957 and was bought over in 1965 and renamed it Standard Bank of West Africa. In 1971, Standard Bank of Nigeria placed 13% of its share capital with Nigerian investors. It eventually changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria in 1979 (, 2018). It was the sole operating bank until Barclays Bank was established in 1917 (, 2018). In 1948, the British and French Bank for commerce and industry, which later became the United Bank for Africa, was established (2018).

The banks favoured mainly the British business circle until 1959 when the Central Bank was established in Nigeria to regulate the activities of these banks. The excesses of these banks led to the emergence of some indigenous banks (Industrial and Commercial Bank, 1929 Mercantile Bank 1931; Nigerian Farmers and Commercial Bank, 1947) which, however, experienced early demise due to factors that ranged from mismanagement, accounting incompetence, embezzlement, the Great Depression and unhealthy competition from the metropolitan banks (Agajelu, 2018; Ajayi and Sosan, 2018).


Transport, the cornerstone of civilisation, is an essential part of human activity development and it is essential to economic growth. As society and economic organisations become more complex, the relevance of transport grows. The complexity of transportation in any community is a reflection of its economic status reason being that a large proportion of its economic activities are largely dependent on an efficient network of roads. Transportation projects are: capital intensive; require long gestation periods; traffic volume, flow and pattern dependent and connective in nature.

Transportation infrastructures are usually provided by the government as social services to the population because of their capital-intensive nature. This explains why governments all over the world take responsibility for the provision of transport infrastructures; irrespective of their viability. Undoubtedly, the growth, development and functioning of an economy requires the use of transport; principally connecting raw materials to processing centres and products to consumption centres

Water Transport


This Mode of Water Transport is Still Typical

In north-eastern Nigeria, Hadejia River and others flow into the Lake Chad. Other major coastal rivers in South-western Nigeria include River Ogun, River Osse and Oshun River, while the coastal rivers in South-eastern Nigeria include Cross River, Imo River,Aboine (Ebonyi) River and other tributaries of the River Niger such as Anambra and Mamu Rivers. The major inland waterways in Nigeria that span much of the country is the Rivers Niger and Benue together with their tributaries Donga, Katsina-Ala, Gongola on the Benue River and Sokoto and Kaduna on River Niger. The major rivers meet at Lokoja where they dissect the country into east, west and north sections and later enter the Gulf of Guinea through a large network of creeks and distributaries which form the Niger Delta. The two rivers offer links to countries bothering Nigeria in the North and East respectively.

The role of the inland waterways and the seaports in the economic development of Nigeria was such that the numerous ports along the coasts and rivers of the country expanded, declined or completely disappeared as the pattern of trade within the country and with the outside world changed. Initially, there were scattered small trade activities along the coastline such as Lagos, Gwato, Forcados, Koko, Burutu, Akasa, Brass and Calabar, among others, each with a very limited hinterland trading variously in slaves and oil palm produce. However, as the penetration and subsequent control of the interior continued new trade routes were established and consequently, some ports such as Gwato, Brass, Koko, Forcados and others declined in importance or became extinct while other ports such as Lagos, Warri and Port-Harcourt became dominant (Onokala, 2015).

The early European traders relied on water transport using the numerous creeks and rivers from where they communicated with specialist traders from the inland trading communities such as Arochukwu, Awka and Nkwere traders in the interior of south-eastern Nigeria until the latter half of the 19th Century. In addition, some coastal and riverine communities such as the Efik, Opobo, Bonny and Calabar people traded directly with the European ships (Onokala, 2015).

Main Water Routes along the Coast and Major Rivers

Develop, own and operate ports and harbours. The years (1914 to 1953) were periods in which ports administration in Nigeria was under the auspices of Marine Department and which did not witness any remarkable port extension. The ports were characterized by narrow passages leading to shallow rivers on which vessels had to sail, and lack of dredging facilities to keep them open as much as possible (Brown, 2013). Onokala (2002) noted that the period after World War I and II witnessed remarkable development in water transportation in Nigeria, mainly through such improvements as introducing powered motor boats, government launches, motorised ferries in addition to engine boats and canoes for carrying goods and passengers along the River Niger and other major rivers and for transportation from one side of the river bank to another; the Nigerian Ports Authority having been established as an autonomous public corporation to manage ports and inland waterways (Brown, 2013) in March 1954 by the Ports Act of 1954 under the name, Nigerian Ports Authority (Badejo and Solaja, 2017; NPA, 2017). The NPA’s mandate consists of:

  • Provide a safe and navigable channel
  • Offer cargo handling and storage services
  • Maintain Port facilities and equipment
  • Ensure safety and security
  • Develop and own property

It is pertinent here to reinstate that the transport system was financed to facilitate the improvement and expansion of British trade and the distributive system (Agajelu, 2018). This should not be considered as a minus to the colonists but rather to our inability to maintain and improve upon them.

Timeline on Water Transport

1906:   the Nigerian Marine was created (Badejo and Solaja, 2017).

1907:   Commencement of work on the moles project deepening of the approach channel and the harbour to admit ocean-going ships to berth. 2 Small wharves were first constructed at Iddo and at the east mole site. By August 1913, with the attainment of a sixteen-foot draught over the bar for seven consecutive months, the long-desired goal of port development at Lagos was achieved

1909:   The effort towards the provision of facilities for ocean-going vessels started with the          opening of Lagos Lagoon (NPA< 2018)

1913    The Apapa Port in the South West was earmarked for development (NP, 2018).

   The construction of PH Port began on Bonny River. Skeletal services for coal loading      commenced through small wharves NPA (2018)

1916:   a berth for colliers was dredged for PH Port and its construction was completed (Brown, 2013)

1921    Construction of the first four deepwater berths of 548.64m at the Apapa Port began (NPA, 2018)

1923:   the construction of the main general cargo wharf for PH Port began (Brown, 2013)

1956:   Inland waterways department under the Federal Ministry of Transport was established Badejo, 2010)

1957:   Extension of the PH wharf by 1,600 feet (Brown, 2013)

1958:   linking the existing PH wharf electrically with the new ring circuit and construction work on the ports’ railway track and a new locomotive shed and fuelling point were completed and brought into operation (Brown, 2013).

1960:   The PH wharf which began in 1957 was first opened in October 1960 by Princess Alexandra (Brown, 2013)

 The Railway

The decision to delve into the expensive investment in railways in the Nigerian colony was influenced by a number of reasons (Agajelu, 2018). They included:

  1. Colonial Train (Locomotive)

    The desire to expand British trade by the opening up of the Nigerian interior as a new market for British goods.Curiosity in Britain about Nigerian interior.

  • To reach the produce centres remote to the inland waterways (Figure), to help the colonial merchants in moving cash crops and extractive minerals from their respective sources to the harbours for export.
  1. To facilitate the transportation of the bulk import and export commodities in view of the absence of good roads and unavailability of heavy haulage road vehicles.
  2. To establish a more flexible movement of colonial administrative personnel in the vast colony especially after the amalgamation of 1914.
  3. To facilitate the exercise of military control of inland territories.

Conception began in 1877 and construction of the railway started in 1898 at Iddo.

Timeline on the Establishment of Nigerian Rail Transport

1877: Conception of the need for rail transport (Agajelu, 2018)

1898:   Commencement of construction of the first phase of Nigeria’s railway network (Ayoola, 2016).

1901:   The railway extended from Lagos (Iddo) on the south coast to Abeokuta and later Ibadan; a distance of about 120 miles (95 km) (Ayoola, 2016).

            The northern line started in1901 at Zungeru, onwards to Kaduna (Agajelu, 2018)

1911, The Baro-Kano line was completed (Ayoola, 2016)

1912:   The Baro-Kano line was joined with the Lagos Railway line at Minna (Ayoola, 2016). Trains had to be ferried across River Niger at Jebba

1915:   The construction of Jebba Bridge across River Niger was completed

            Extension of the southern railway to Kano in the north (Ayoola, 2016).

1916:   Construction of the Eastern line fromPort Harcourt line was constructed to Enugu (Ayoola, 2016).

1932:   Eastern Line finally reached Kaduna due to the completion of Markudi Bridge (Ayoola, 2016).

1945:   Rail network reached Kaura Namoda in northwest and Nguru in the northeast (Ayoola, 2016)

1955:   Transformation from Department of Railways to Nigerian Railway Corporation

Road network

Although the outboard engine boat (the Erico) was used on the River Niger between Onitsha and Asaba.  a two-section railway bridge (with a total span of 1,795 feet [547 m]) over the Niger River was commissioned in 1915.

In Nigeria, although existing bush paths were widened to form a skeletal grid of road network, roads were not widely developed until the advent of motor vehicles in the 1920’s and 1930’s and extensive road development took place only after World War II.

In 1926, the road system of Nigeria was classified into three major types:

  1. Federal Trunk A Roads;
  2. Regional/State Trunk B Roads; and
  • Provincial/Local Government Trunk C Roads.

In this way, the Federal, regional and provincial/local governments were given separate responsibilities for the planning, construction and maintenance of roads in the country.

Although roads were primarily built to feed the railways and be complementary to them, roads eventually took over from the railways as the country’s road network improved and captured more and more traffic from the railways, especially after independence in 1960. The new roads resulted in tremendous savings in travel time and thus:

  1. Encourage the migration of population from the hinterlands to the new transport routes thus giving rise to a ribbon-like concentration of towns and villages along both sides of the new roads; and
  2. Provide employment for drivers, mechanics, spare parts dealers, vulcanizers, petrol stations, car washers and other related activities and their numbers have increased in recent times. The employment generating and other multiplier effects resulting from these forms of linkages have gone a long way towards the modernisation and rapid development of the Nigerian economy. Roads are also very important for successful tourism activities in the country.

Air transport

In 1920, A Royal Air Force aircraft landed on a polo field in Maiduguri. This marked the beginning of aviation practice in Nigeria and thenceforth continued to operate in West Africa with a squadron stationed in Sudan by 1925. The British commander sought approval from the Colonial Office in England to operate frequent cross-country flights from Khartoum to Maiduguri. By 1930, civil and military aircraft were carrying passengers across boundaries and touching down in places like Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Minna, Oshogbo and Lagos while British Imperial Airways carried regular passenger and mail services. Subsequently, Lagos and Accra became hubs for flights en route to the Middle East and India.

West Africa Airways Corporation

The Royal Air Force subsequently extended its services to Takoradi, Fort Lamy and Cairo. Aerodromes, stores and quarters were built for staff and to serve as night stop accommodation for pilots.

The Dakota aircraft was used extensively; and air services were operated from Lagos to Port Harcourt, Enugu, Jos, Kaduna and Kano until May 1946. After the Second World War, the economic recession which occurred in Europe compelled a wide influx of Europeans to West Africa which was then the main source of obtaining raw materials for European industries. This resulted in the development of a wide market and the consequent economic boom in the area. By then, nationalist agitations for independence had intensified in the four British West African colonies—Nigeria, Gold Coast (Ghana), Gambia and Sierra Leone.

The West Africa Airways Corporation (WAAC) was formed by Nigeria, the Gold Coast Siera Leone and Gambia by an Order-in-Council of the Colonial Office in 1946 as a result of their meeting of May 15 1946, and also handle the recurrent problem of transport and communication between the British Isles and the colonies. BOAC provided the technical and commercial staff.

In effect, the WAAC became a public corporation set up by the colonies to develop efficient air transport services in West Africa. It started operation with an initial capital outlay of £465,000 provided by the colonies and a Wet Lease Dore aircraft. Its operation was supervised by the West Africa Air Transport Authority (WAATA), which had powers to legislate and execute policies. WAATA’s supreme body consisted of the Governors of the colonies with the Governor of Nigeria as the presiding officer. In addition to its powers, WAATA was charged with the responsibility to keep under review all air matters of importance likely to affect aviation in the territories of member states.

WAAC took over the major air routes that had been established by the Royal Air Force in West Africa up till 1956. On 31 March 1948 WAAC became responsible for the operation of the inter-Colonial West African coastal services and extended operation to Freetown, Bathurst and Dakar. The airline began a Lagos-Khartoum service with Bristol 170s in April 1950

As the member states gained Commonwealth status from the United Kingdom, they set up their own carriers, namely: Ghana Airways; Sierra Leone Airways; and Gambia Air Shuttle (Magoon, 2016;, 2018; Tutu, 2018). In June 1958, Nigeria signed an agreement with the Fokker Aircraft Works in Holland, the company from which the new Nigeria Airways would be buying its middle range jets for Nigeria’s domestic and West African routes. On August 11, 1958, On October 1, 1958, the West African Airways Corporation was renamed WAAC (Nigeria) Limited with the Nigerian government jointly owning the shares with the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Elder Dempster. Nigeria owned a majority share of fifty-one per cent.

Power Supply

The history of electricity development in Nigeria can be traced back to the end of the 19th Century when the first generating power plant was installed in Marina, Lagos, in 1896 (, 2018), thirteen years after its introduction in England. Its total capacity was 60kW. After the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 to form modern Nigeria, other towns in the country started to develop an electric power supply system on the individual scale. The following major cities thus had a dose of electricity supply in the following order: Port Harcourt (1928); Kaduna (1929); Enugu (1933); Maiduguri (1934); Yola (1937); Zaria (1938); Warri (1939); and Calabar (1939).

1898:   Electric street lighting was introduced in Lagos (Echeruo, 1977).

1923:   Ijora Power Station, formally commissioned (Echeruo, 1977).

1929:   Nigerian Electricity Supply Company was established (, 2018)

1946:   Nigerian Government Electricity Undertaking (NGEU) was established (Adesope, 2013).

1950:   Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) was established (Awosope, 2014).

            Nigeria Dam Authority NDA) was established (Awosope, 2014).

1951: April, ECN, officially took over all electricity supply activities in Nigeria (Awosope, 2014).

1956:   Commisioning of the Ijora power station February (Awosope, 2014). If Adesope’s report is correct, it is likely to be an expansion scheme in view of increased population.

Water Supply

The responsibility for water supply in Nigeria is shared among the three levels of governance: the federal; the state; and the local governments. The federal government is in charge of water resources management; state governments have the primary responsibility for urban water supply while the local governments together with communities are responsible for rural water supply.

1862: Sir John Glover, an early colonial governor of Lagos, introduced public wells to the city, but the quality of water from such wells was variable (Olukoju, Undated-a).

1864:   Deliberations on how to secure safe potable water began (Olukoju, Undated-a).

1910:   Completion of the Iju waterworks, located some 1,000 feet below the confluence of the Adiyan river and the Iju stream and conveyed to Lagos via a cast iron main trunk with a diameter of 28 inches(Olukoju, Undated-a).

1915:   Formal commissioning by 1915 by Nigeria’s Governor-General, Sir Frederick Lugard on 1 July. The scheme had an initial capacity of about two and a half million gallons per day, sufficient for 115,000 persons, more than half the population of Lagos. It consisted of three giant engines which pumped 5,000 gallons of water per minute. A total of 200 fountains were provided all over the city and 250 hydrants were installed to provide water in case of fire (Olukoju, Undated-a).

1933:   On 30 March water charges were introduced but resisted (Olukoju, Undated-a).

1940:   Lagos Township Ordinance (chapter 59) of 19 March 1940 fixed new water rates (Olukoju, Undated-a).

1943:   the capacity of Iju WW plant was increased to six million gallons per day and another cast iron trunk with a diameter of 26 inches was laid to facilitate supply to Lagos (Olukoju, Undated-a).

1944:   The first ten-year plan (1944 – 1956) included in its overall budget about 5.7% of the total expenditure for the water sector (Ajibade et al, 2015).

      Concrete open wells were constructed under the supervision of Public Works Department (PWD), of the Regional Governments who were responsible for providing safe water to the rural communities (Ajibade et al, 2015).

1954:   With the creation of regional governments, the financial and technical responsibilities for developing new water schemes were taken over by the regional governments who also assigned supervisory high-level manpower to oversee operations and maintenance (Ajibade et al, 2015).

in a few towns managed at the lowest administrative level. Amongst the early beneficiaries of public water supply in Nigeria in the early twentieth century were Lagos, Calabar, Kano, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode (Ogun State) and Enugu.

Sanitation and Healthcare Delivery


Jericho Hospital Ibadan

As settlements grew there arose the need for concerted efforts at keeping the environment safe for human settlements. This led to the establishment of sanitary inspection with responsibilities of ensuring:Sanitation has to do with such public health conditions that incorporate clean drinking water and adequate treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage. In agrarian communities sanitation may not pose very serious problems as there would be much space to keep human wastes far away from settlements; thus, reducing the possibility of transmission of contagious diseases.

  • Routine sanitary inspection of houses, markets, schools and
  • Waste disposal and environmental sanitation, pollution control and industrial sanitation.
  • Vector and pest control e.g. Malaria control
  • Prosecution of public health offenders in the court
  • Meat and food inspection
  • The disposal of the dead (corpses)
  • Occupational health and factory inspection
  • Vaccination/inoculation of both schoolchildren and adults.
  • Health education on personal and public hygiene.

In Nigeria, the development of environmental health has had a more challenging history. As far back as the 18th century, the Colonial government took the issue of preventive health services serious because of the need to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, which was a major killer of the colonial settlers. They introduced the then Sanitary Inspectors to the Colony of Lagos h a position that earned him a seat in the Legislative Council in 1913 on the amalgamation of both the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria (

In 1920, the Nigerian School of Hygiene was established in Yaba, Lagos (Omipidan, 2018).

Healthcare delivery is summarized thus (Table 1).

Table 1: Timeline on Pre-Colonial Healthcare Delivery


Formal intervention into the housing sector in Nigeria dated back to the colonial administration, following the unfortunate outbreak of the bubonic plaque of 1928 in Lagos (Bigon, 2016; Faleye, 2017). This necessitated the establishment of the Lagos Executive Development Board LEDB in 1928 (, 2018) as the main organ for Town planning and housing development and subsequent ushering of Nigerian public housing programmes intervention like  the evacuation and drainage of entire swampy neighbourhoods (such as Oko Awo) and re-settling of the people on the mainland. This was the genesis of the establishment of the Yaba and Ebute Metta housing schemes (, 2018)

The policies are modest with the ultimate aim of addressing the housing problem at a National scale with a focus on the provision of expatriate quarters (Oni, 1989) and some selected indigenous staff in Railways, Marine, Police and Armed forces. Government residential areas (GRA) were established as well as some “African Quarters”. No effort was made by the government to build houses for sale or rent to the public and little effort was made to allow the growth of housing estates outside the GRAs (, 2018).

With the approval of the Lagos Central Planning Scheme in 1954, LEDB attempted to solve the problem of housing development in the metropolis. This led to the establishment of the following estates

  1. Workers’ Housing Estate and re-Housing Estate, Surulere;
  2. Akinsemonyi and Eric Moore Housing Estate, Surulere; and
  • Workers’ Housing Scheme and Sites and Services Estate in Surulere, Apapa, Ikoyi, Ilupeju and Isolo

In 1955, revived concern for slum clearance brought the central Lagos slum clearance scheme into effect. The scheme opened up Apapa and later Victoria Island as high and low-density areas of Lagos.

The Nigerian Building Society was established in 1956 to provide mortgage loans. Lean financial resources and poor response of the public to the scheme skewed the operation of the NBS to poor performance (, 2018).


Colonial House, Port Harcourt

In 1958, the Western Regional Government pioneered the establishment of housing corporations (Olukoju, Undated-b). Other regions soon followed suit. The main function of the housing corporations was the construction of housing units for sales to members of the public and the issuance of loans to whoever wished to build their own houses on their land.The construction of senior civil servant quarters in the capital city of Lagos and regional headquarters like Kaduna, Ibadan and Enugu are some of the practical efforts made at the same time with some form of rent subsidy and housing loans.


This article is presented with the view of raising concern for the development of the “developing countries”, not to condemn any government but to create awareness and fashion out concrete paths towards development. While African nations will be the focus, examples will be drawn from other regions. It is hoped that peoples from other nations will contribute positively to the programme of fashioning out the path of development.

There is a Yoruba adage that says “Eepa npa ara ę o ni oun npa’ja, t’aja ba ku n’ibo ni eepa yio wa?” meaning “The dog worm is carrying out its extermination; believing that it is killing the dog, where will be its habitation at the demise of the dog?”

This applies to African (and their likes) leaders who are busy carting away the resources of Africa into foreign lands to keep for their children. The Lord who created us said “So shall my word ‘If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. (Ex 22:1,KJV)’ be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa 55:11, KJV). To those who assume that the grace has covered their iniquities “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8, KJV) to which Jesus replied “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10, KJV).

Any comment that does not address the subject of discussion will be spammed


Agajelu, AC (2018).     The Colonial Infrastructural Development in Nigeria with Particular Emphasis on the Railway. Accessed 15 Oct 2018.

Ajayi, TA and  M Sosan (2018). The Evolution of Nigerian Banking System, Supervision and Current Challenges. Accessed 16 Oc 2018

Ajibade, FO; JR Adewumi; OM Ojo; JO Babatola; and AM Oguntuase (2015). 2015 Conference Proceedings: National Development Strategies toward Sustainable Civil Infrastructure.Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers: Sustaining the World’s infrastructure (A Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers) (2018). Mortgage Banking in Nigeria Accessed 25 Oct 2018.

Awosope, CA (2014).  Nigeria Electricity Industry: Issues, Challenges and Solutions. Public Lecture Series. Vol. 3, No. 2, October, 2014

Ayoola, TA (2016). Establishment of the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Journal of Retracing Africa Volume 3 | Issue 1 Article 4 December 2016

Badejo, B (2010).  Developing Inland Waterways Transportation in Nigeria: What Role for the Private Sector

Badejo, BA and OM Solaja (2017). The Nigerian seaports and development (1900-2015): Historical perspectives and dynamics. International Journal of Development and Sustainability Vol 6 No 9 (2017): Pages 1007-1024 (2018). Barclays Bank of Nigeria Limited/Union Bank Nigeria. Accessed 16 Oct 2018.

Bigon, L (2016). Bubonic plague, colonial ideologies, and urban planning policies: Dakar, Lagos, and Kumasi. Planning Perspectives. Volume 31, 2016 – Issue 2. Pp  205-226

Boddy-Evans, A (2017). Events Leading to the Scramble for Africa: Accessed 15 Oct 2017.

Brown, GM (2013). Port Harcourt Port and Inland Waterways in Nigeria, 1913-2010: A Historical Perspective IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS). Vol 11, Issue 5 (May. – Jun. 2013), PP 74-80

EB (2018). Indian National Congress. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed 15 Oct 2018.

Echeruo, IM (1977). Electricity supply in Lagos, 1898-2000. Ch Two. Victorian Lagos: Aspects of Nineteenth Century Lagos Life, London: Macmillan, 1977, p. 21-45 (2018). History of Environmental Health. Accessed 22 Oct 2019. (2018). Sierra National Airlines.

Faleye, OA (2017). Environmental Change, Sanitation and Bubonic Plague in Lagos, 1924–31 International Review Of Environmental History: Volume 3, Issue 2, 2017

FGN (1986). Hydrological Year book Vol 1 (1914 – 1959). Inland waterways Department, Federal  Ministry of Transport and Aviation.

Guyer, JI and K Pallaver (2018). Money and Currency in African History. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. Online Publication Date: May 2018 (2018). Treaty of Versailles. Accessed 15 Oct 2018

Magoon, A (2016). TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: Ghana Airways. Accessed 21 Oct 2018. (2018). History. Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Cmmission. Accessed 21 Oct 2018.

NIWA (2018). National Inland Waterways AuthorityWaterways. Accessed 20 Oct 2018. (2018). Nigerian Railways Corporation. Accessed 20 Oct 2018.

Olukoju, A (Undated). The Port of Lagos, 1850-1929: The Rise of West Africa’s Leading Seaport  Accessed 20 Oct 2018.

Olukoju, A (Undated-a). Water supply in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Developments Up To The Inauguration Of The Iju Waterworks. Ch 3 in INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND URBAN FACILITIES IN LAGOS, 1861-2000

Olukoju, A (Undated-b). The spatial and demographic contexts of infrastructure development in colonial and postcolonial Lagos. Infrastructure and Development: An Overview. Ch 1 in INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND URBAN FACILITIES IN LAGOS, 1861-2000 pp 1-19

Omipidan, TO (2018)> The Historical Background Of Sanitary Inspectors In Nigeria. Accessed 22 Oct 2018.

Onokala, PC (2015). Transportation Development in Nigeria: The Journey so Far and the Way Forward. An Inaugural Lecture delivered at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Oziogu, AI (2012). Nigeria’s Indigenous Currencies. Accessed 15 Oct 2018. (2018). Bank of British West Africa. Accessed 15 Ocy 2018.

Tutu, B (2018). 5 Things to Know About the Gambia Independence Day. Accessed 21 Oct 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *