James Wilson Robertson

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James Wilson Robertson
2nd Governor-General of Nigeria
In office
June 15, 1955 – November 16, 1960
Preceded by Sir John Stuart Macpherson
Succeeded by Nnamdi Azikiwe
Personal details
Born 27 October 1899
Died 23 September 1983 (age 83)

Sir James Wilson Robertson, KT, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, KStJ (27 October 1899 - 23 September 1983) was the last British Governor-General of Nigeria.

He was educated at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh and Balliol College, Oxford. After Oxford he joined the Sudan Political Service from 1922 to 1953, serving appointments in Blue Nile, White Nile, Fung and Kordofan provinces and was the Civil Secretary from 1945 to 1953. He was then sent to British Guiana in January 1954 by Oliver Lyttelton, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies to write the Robertson Commission Report to investigate the current crisis in the country due to the election of the People's Progressive Party, who were seen as too friendly with communist organisations which had led to the suspension of the constitution.[1][2][3]

He was then sent to Nigeria as a result of his good work. He was Governor-General of Nigeria from 15 June 1955 to 16 November 1960 (representing Queen Elizabeth as Head of State from 1 October 1960 to 16 November 1960).[4]

His brother was Ian Robertson, Lord Robertson. He served a Commission in the British Army with the Gordon Highlanders and the Black Watch. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) from the University of Leeds in 1961.[5]

Writings[edit]

Author of a Memoir, Africa in Transition: From Direct Rule to Independence, published by Hurst, London, in 1974, Sir James reflects on his nearly-40 years in Africa. This engaging narrative provides detail on both his administrative life and personal observations. In a final chapter, 'Reflections,' Sir James seeks to confront and account for the swift collapse and disintegration of so much of what he and his fellow British servants of the Empire had with such hard work constructed not only in the Sudan and Nigeria, but indeed in all of Britain's former colonial African territories. Commenting on foreign concern about post-Independence difficulties, Sir James observes, "Americans have asked me: 'Why did you leave so soon, before the colonial territories were ready to rule themselves?' And when I have answered, 'Partly, I am sure, because of your pressure on us to go,' [they] have answered that they did not know then what they know now, and that we should have resisted their pressure." (p. 253)

Sir James also made a notable contribution to a 1978 Oxford Symposium, Transfer of Power: the Colonial Administrator in the Age of De-colonisation, edited by A. H. M. Kirk-Greene (published, in 1979, by the Inter-Faculty Committee for African Studies, Oxford University). See particularly his "The Governor as the Man in the Middle," (pp. 38–43); and "Summary of Discussion," (pp. 50–59). The Last of the Proconsuls: Letters of Sir James Robertson, edited by Graham F. Thomas, was published in 1994. It is a collection of letters Sir James sent to Thomas over 40 years mainly about the problems towards the end of the British Empire as seen by one of the greatest figures in imperial government.[6]

Styles[edit]

  • 1899-3 June 1931: James Wilson Robertson
  • 3 June 1931 – 1940: James Wilson Robertson MBE[6]
  • 1940-1941: His Excellency James Wilson Robertson MBE, Governor of Gerzira Province[7]
  • 1941-1 January 1948: James Wilson Robertson MBE
  • 1 January 1948 – 1 June 1953: Sir James Wilson Robertson KBE[8]
  • 1 June 1953 – 15 June 1955: Sir James Wilson Robertson KCMG, KBE[9]
  • 15 June 1955 – 1956: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson KCMG, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, Federation of Nigeria
  • 1956-13 June 1957: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson GCVO, KCMG, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, Federation of Nigeria
  • 13 June 1957 – 1 October 1960: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson GCMG, GCVO, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, Federation of Nigeria[10]
  • 1 October-16 November 1960: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson GCMG, GCVO, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Independent Federation of Nigeria
  • 16 November 1960 – 1965: Sir James Wilson Robertson GCMG, GCVO, KBE
  • 1965-1983: Sir James Wilson Robertson KT, GCMG, GCVO, KBE

Notes and references[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Stuart Macpherson
Governor-General of Nigeria
1955–1960
Succeeded by
Nnamdi Azikiwe