The British were once here

Nigeria Flag

Nigeria Flag

I was born in Idanre, a hilly ancient town in Ondo State but I have spent more years in Lagos than in any other city in the world. Since the early sixties when I used to spend holidays with my cousin, Professor Ayo Akinbobola (1942-2008) at 92,Ogunlana Drive (Bus Corner) in Surulere, Lagos along with another cousin of mine Chief Babu Akinbobola (66), Lagos has always been my base.

No matter how long my sojourn in any part of country is, be it in Eket, Calabar, Ogoja, Katsina, Bendi, Akure, Owerri, Maiduguri, Sokoto and many other cities, including, of course, Abuja—that artificial city—I always love to come back to Lagos—a city that never sleeps. In the past, Ikoyi was the best place to be in Lagos, hence my disappointment that the names of places we cherished in the past have been changed. A fact that cannot be erased is that we were once colonized by the British and Lagos was also once the capital of Nigeria. Another fact was that some streets in Lagos, especially in Ikoyi were named by the British to remind us that they were once here.

Cameron Road was named after Sir Donald Charles Cameron (1872-1948). He was a British Colonial governor. In April 1925, Cameron became the second governor of the British mandate of Tanganyika, taking over from John Scott, who was acting governor for Sir Horace Byatt. From 1931 to 1935 he was Governor and Commander-In-Chief of Nigeria. Glover Road was named after Sir James Hawley Glover (1829-1885). He was a Captain in the British Royal Navy and later a colonial governor. On 21 April 1863 he was appointed administrator of the government of Lagos Colony, Victoria Island in Lagos was named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who was the Queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Milverton Road in Ikoyi was named after Baron Milverton. Baron Milverton, of Lagos and of Clifton in the City of Bristol, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1947 for the colonial administrator, Sir Arthur Richards. He had previously served as Governor of Nigeria.

The title is now held by his eldest son, the second Baron. Moloney Street in Lagos was named after Sir Cornelius Alfred Moloney KCMG (1848-13 August 1913) who was a British colonial administrator. He served as British administrator of The Gambia from 1884 to 1886, Governor of Lagos Colony from 1886 to 1890, Governor of British Honduras from 1891 to 1897, Governor of the Federal Colony of the Windward Islands from 1897 to 1900, and Governor of Trinidad and Tobago from November 1900 to 1904. Clifford Street in Lagos was named after Sir Hugh Charles Clifford (1866-1941) who was also British Colonial administrator. In 1903, he left Malaysia to take the post of Colonial Secretary of Trinidad. Later he was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast, 1912-1919, Nigeria, 1919-1925, and Ceylon, 1925-1927. Eric Moore Street in Surulere, Lagos was named after Eric Olawolu Moore, a member of the colonial legislative council and the first Lagos member of the united committee of experts and adviser on Labour conventions and regulations.

He was the father of Kofo Moore, wife of Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, first Chief Justice of the Federation, who also established New Era Secondary School in Surulere, Lagos. Denton Street in Ikoyi was named after George Chadin Denton (1851-1928) who was the Colonial Secretary of Lagos in 1900. Freeman Street was named after Sir Henry Stanhorp Freeman (1831-1865) who was the first Governor of Lagos (1862-1865). He took over from acting Governor William Mccorskty.

Alexander Avenue was named in honour of Cyril Wilson Alexander (1879-1947) who was Governor of the Southern provinces of Nigeria between 1929 and 1930. Edgerton Street was named in honour of Sir Walter Egerton (1858-1947) who was the Governor of the colony of Southern Nigeria between 1906-1912. Osborne Road, also in Ikoyi was named after Jack Osborne who died on August 15, 2012 at the age of 103. He served with Chindits behind enemy lines in Barma, commanding Nigerian troops during the Second World War. Lugard Street in Ikoyi was named after Sir Frederick John Dealtry Lugard (1858-1945), former Governor General of Nigeria. Sir Lugard also named Port Harcourt in honour of Sir Lewis Vernon Harcourt (1863-1922) who was the British Secretary for the Colonies between 1910-1915.

Lord Harcourt’s nickname was “Loulou.” Macgregor Street in Ikoyi was named after Sir William Macgregor (1846-1919) who served as Governor of Lagos Colony from 1899-1904 where he instituted a campaign against malaria. Thompson Street in Ikoyi was named after Sir Graeme Thomson (1875-1933). He was appointed Secretary for Ceylon in 1919,then Governor of British Guiana in 1922 and of Nigeria in 1925. Adeniyi Jones Street in Ikeja was named after Dr. Curtis Crispin Adeniyi-Jones (1876-1957), a Nigerian Doctor and Politician. His son Femi is at present a member of Guild of Stewards at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos. Macpherson Street in Lagos was named after John Stewart Macpherson (1898-1971). He was a British Colonial administrator who served as Governor General of Nigeria from 1948-1955. He was responsible for the introduction of the 1951 constitution, the Macpherson Constitution, which provided for “semi-responsible government.” His ADC during his tenure was General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (1924-1966) who later became the Head of State of Nigeria from January 1966 to July 1966.

Carter Bridge in Lagos was named after Sir Gilbert Thomas Carter (1848-1927). Carter was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Lagos on 3 February 1891. Carter ordered an attack on the Ijebus in 1892. He travelled to various parts of Yorubaland, accompanied by soldiers, in an attempt to demonstrate the might of the British.

After his tenure in Nigeria, he was transferred to Barbados as governor and he built the Governors’ residence there in 1904. That house, which is still the official residence of the Prime Minister of Barbados. The house was named by Ilaro Court and it is on Tweedside Road, St. Michael in Barbados. He named the house in remembrance of Ilaro, which today is the headquarters of Yewa South, Ogun State. He died on January 18, 1927 in Ilaro Court. The British did it their way when they were here and what they did is part of our history, which we are still coping with today. In his book titled, “Character And Opinion,” George Santayana (1862-1952) wrote that, “things have their days and beauties in that day. It would be preposterous to expect any civilization to last forever.”

Teniola, Resides In Lagos.

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