Leading academic authority on British imperial governance, Dame Margery Perham famously made the above remark on the workings of indirect rule in Northern Nigeria—the colonial state resulting from the 1903 British conquest of the West African Sokoto Caliphate. First emerging on the heels of the 1857 mutiny in British India, British colonial indirect rule had a long and checkered history predating its arrival in Nigeria. The dominant understanding of the Indian rebellion was that of a revolt against empire’s anglicizing project with the consequence that it spurred the colonial state to turn to governing colonial populations through native institutions within and beyond India. Indirect rule was never coherent, nor uniform across colonial holdings; yet, it notoriously institutionalized the co-option of indigenous rulers and laws to further the ends of empire.
Akande, Rabiat, "Debating Diya: Indirect Rule and the Transformation of Islamic Law in British Colonial Northern Nigeria" (2021). All Papers. 334.