Although Nigeria was the creation of European ambitions and rivalries, its peoples had their cherished history of freedom and independence before the arrival of the British.
This newly created country contained a multiplicity of diverse ethnic groups which had evolved complex systems of government. The British tried to weld together these groups and territories, with such diversity of cultures and at different stages of development, into a nation. As British administrators became aware of Nigeria's historical diversity, they also became respectful of some of its traditions while disregarding others.
The amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 was a milestone and a watershed in Nigerian history. It gave Nigeria its present size and shape. It also gave Nigeria its present complexity, one measure of which is the diversity of cultures. This diversity has necessitated the adoption of a federal structure for the country. The British colonial administration showed some preference for the Indirect Rule system because of the cost of direct administration in terms of its personnel and financial requirements. The traditional institution in Northern Nigeria facili- tated the application of indirect rule.
The British entrenched this Northern Nigerian (Sokoto Caliphate) Model through a number of proclamations notably, the Native Authorities Ordinance of 1901, Native Court Ordinance of 1902 and the Native Revenue Proclamation of 1904. These ordinances were amended and extended to Southern Nigeria in 1914, 1916, and 1917 respectively (Afigbo, 1974:18). This extension to the South harmonised the system of local government administration throughout the country, while at the same time allowing for local peculiarities.