Main features or Structure of British indirect rule.

1. At  the  Apex  of  the  British  colonial   administration,    there  was  a  secretary   for colonies resident  in London.  This secretary  was  responsible  for the British  colonial  affairs  and was answerable  to the British parliament  and cabinet.
2.    Below  the  secretary   for  colonies   were  the  governors   each  heading   one  of  the  British colonies  or protectorates.   These  colonial  governors  were  accountable   to the secretary  for colonies.  However  due to communication   system, this accountability   was loose.
3.       Each  British  territory  was divided  into  provmces  each  under  a provincial   commissioner.
The provinces  were then sub-divided  into districts  that were under a district  commissioner. All these commissioners  were British Nationals  and not Africans.
4.    These  districts  were then sub-divided  (for the case of Uganda)  into counties,  sub counties. parishes,  sub parishes  and then  villages  in that order. It was from  the county  down  to the village  level that African  chiefs who were charged  with day to day affairs of administration featured.
5 .      Considering    the  above  arrangement    one  can  note  that  Africans   featured   in  the  local administration    and not  in central  administration.   It was  at the level  of local  governments that  the  African   chief  was  a key  character.   For  example,   the  county   chief  appointed subcounty  chiefs  down  to the village  headmen  who were  all answerable   to him. He  also presided  over native courts with the help of his appointed  chiefs using African  law.
6.    In the operation  of the British  indirect rule, agents of the local chief carried  out tax revenue collection  which  resources  were used  in developing  roads,  health  facilities,  Education  and to pay the local administration  staff in a bid to facilitate  further African  exploitation.
7.       It should  be remembered   that under  indirect  rule  the county  chief  was  responsible   to the
British  official,  resident  at the  District.   I.e.  the  District  commissioner   who  was  in turn answerable  to the governor of the colony.
Failures of indirect rule
1.    Indirect  rule  undermined  the progress  of unity  between  the rulers  and the ruled  where  it was applied.  E.g. in northern  Nigeria  the powers  of Emirs  were  increased  to over shadow those  of Caliph.  In Buganda,  the powers  of the Lukiiko  and other  appointed  chiefs  were increased.  More  to this  in Buganda  it blocked  the national  consciousness   of clan  system and promoted Nationalism.
2.    It should be remembered   that  indirect   rule  had  two  basics  namely   ruling  through   the African  chiefs and the preservation   of the local institutions  which  were never  fulfilled.  In fact as professor  Semakula  Kiwanuka  argues  indirect  rule was never  implemented  even if one focussed  in northern  Nigeria  where  indirect rule is claimed  to have worked  best, Lord Lugard  deposed  some Emits  and Caliphs  substituting  them with  his appointees.  This was' quite contrary to their prophecy  of preserving  traditional  institutions.
3.    Africans  were conditioned  to serve without  any willingness  from their heart despite  of the few opportunities  e.g. the traditional  chiefs  had to obey orders  of the British  overlord  and work tirelessly towards  their implementation  to please the boss. In Northern  Nigeria  among the emirs Lugard warned that
"The  chief  must himself  understand  he has no right  to his post  and power unless he renders  his proper service to the state".
This showed lack of truth in what was called indirect rule.
4.    The  system  was  quite  exploitative   and  inconsiderate.   For  example,  these  Afncan   rulers were  paid salaries  by colonial  government   from the collection  of African  local revenues. This shows  that they had changed  African  leaders  into British  servants.  This  is why some scholars  call the system  "Direct  rule  by  indirect  means".  Local  leaders  were  turned  into functionaries  of colonial  exploitation.
5.    More to this, contrary to their aims, the African modes of justice  and culture were restricted by  the very  system  that  claimed  to preserve   them.  e.g.  in Buganda   after  the  signing  of Buganda  agreement  there were to be two levels of court system.  Simple  cases to be settled by Lukiiko  court and sophisticated  ones  like murder to be under colonial  court or any case that involved a white man. In Northern  Nigeria  the Islamic code of law suffered restrictions that were disgraceful  to Islamic  way  of life. The Native  court  ordinance  of  1914 stripped off the Sultan of Sokoto caliphate his Judicial powers.
Although   this  system  had  good  enlightened   intentions,   it worked  along  with  unrealistic assumptions   developed  by Lord  Lugard  that  equally  led to the  failure  of the  system  for example;
6.       It assumed that all African  societies were centralised  or at least that they could easily adopt
the centralised  system as that in Buganda  and northern Nigeria.  This  was not      successful in Iteso, the Iboland,  and Lango  in northern  Uganda  becausetof lack of traditional  chiefs. The warrant  chiefs  appointed  and sent in these  areas were not suitable.  They  were brutal, tyrants and unpopular.
7.    It wrongly  assumed  that African  societies  could  not develop  their  own  good  institutions without   the  British  assistance.   This  demonstrated   British  ignorance   for  the  process  of
African  development.   It's  the British  government  that undermined   the progress  of African
societies.
8.    That Africans  would willingly  welcome  the British  system  III their areas. To some Africans the mere  presence  of the British  on their  land represented.a   threat  to their  institutions  and therefore  resisted  straight  way  e.g.  in Zulu under  king Dinizulu,  Buganda  under  Mwanga etc.
9.    It has  been  pointed   out  that  if  the  British  had  not  used  force,  in the  implementation    of indirect  rule,  it would have been  a total fai1ure. E.g.  in  Uganda,   Lugard's    forces  were' applied   in  Buganda   (under   Mwanga),    in Toro  andAnkole.      In  West  Africa   the  Niger frontier  police  force was applied  in Nigeria.  In Buganda  the Kabaka's   powers  were greatly eroded  by the  1900 Buganda   agreement.   Then  to what  extent  was  indirect  rule  indirect? These policemen  worked  hand in hand