Colonial administration came into Nigeria and other parts of West African territories as a result of the quest by European continents like Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, etc. to acquire foreign territories as a part of their empire in the early 1880s.
This led to the overwhelming desire and quest for raw materials in the coastal region of West Africa.
The quest for raw materials propelled the British explorers to open up trade links with the indigenous people of the African continent. This later opened the way for the Trans-Atlantic Trade in human beings.
The competitive quest for markets and sources of raw materials by these rival European countries resulted to the partitioning of Africa following the Berlin Conference of 1884/85.
So, after this conference, the coastal region of West Africa was divided among these rival European states with Britain assuming political influence and control over four West African countries namely: Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra- Leone, and Gold Coast (now Ghana).
Before partitioning Africa amongst these European States, the British traders had already settled at the delta area of the Niger. The British traders named the Delta area “Oil Rivers Protectorate”.
So, after the Berlin Conference of 1884/85, Sir George Tubman Goldie amalgamated the British private companies in the area and named them UAC (United African Company).
By 1886, the UAC, with royal backing from the British Monarch was renamed “Royal Niger Company” and was charged to man and control the Oil Rivers Protectorate and the colony of Lagos. Lagos was ceded by the British in 1861 and was later joined to Southern Protectorate in 1906. Lugard in 1914, amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates of which, he became the first Governor-General of the newly united Nigeria.
Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, Ghana in 1957, Sierra Leone in 1961, and the Gambia in 1965.