Nigeria History

Nigeria History

Middle Ages to the 19th century

There were many different kingdoms in what is now Nigeria: in the 8th century, the Haussa people settled in the north and set up their own states, including the powerful kingdom of Kanem-Bornu, which was shaped by Islam. From the 10th century, the kingdoms of Edo (Benin), Yoruba (Ife, Oyo) and Ibibio and Ibo emerged in the south.

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In the 15th century it was the Portuguese who settled in Lagos in the Book of Benin and slave trade with the Kingdom of Benin. In the mid-19th century, the British drove out the Portuguese and conquered the entire area of ‚Äč‚Äčtoday’s Nigeria over the next few decades.

British rule

In 1900 Great Britain formed the Protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria, which in 1914 merged to form the “Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria”, but were still managed separately due to the ethnic differences and tensions between North and South. Even within southern Nigeria there was repeated tension between the Ibo peoples in the southeast and the Yoruba in the southwest.


After World War II, regional parliaments were established in Nigeria and the population was granted more political self-government. In October 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain within the Commonwealth, and in 1963 the republic was proclaimed. According to AbbreviationFinder, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1959 to 1966) of the “Northern People’s Congress” party became the first prime minister and thus head of government. From the beginning, the new state had to deal with strong ethnic tensions between the four major ethnic groups (Fulbe, Yoruba, Haussa, Ibo).

Civil War

As a result of a military coup in 1966 and the proclaimed politics, thousands of members of the Ibo people were murdered in the north of the country. The killing continued under the leadership of Colonel Yakubu Gowon (1966 to 1975), who in turn came to power through a coup. As a result, the Ibo, under their leader Odumegwa Ojukwu in southeastern Nigeria, set up their own republic called Biafra. The result was a three-year civil was that eventually ended with the dissolution of Biafra. The death toll has been estimated at around two million, with many people, especially children, dying from hunger and malnutrition. Colonel Gowon quickly reintegrated the Ibo people.

Recent developments

The first oil deposits had been discovered in Nigeria in 1958 and have been promoted by international companies since 1969. Nigeria had substantial government revenues from oil, but the majority of the population did not benefit from administrative corruption. Political parties were able to resume work at the end of the 1970s: in 1979, after general and free elections, a civilian government was established. The civilian Shehu Shagari became president, who was confirmed in office in 1983, but economic abuses led to another coup and reign of the Supreme Military Council in the same year (until 1993). From 1993 to 1998, General Sani Abacha was President of Nigeria. The executions he ordered of opposition figures and dissenters (such asby Ken Saro-Wiwa) caused worldwide outrage. A process of democratization began under President Abdulsalam Abubakar (1998 to 1999). Free elections were held for the first time in early 1999. The president became Olusegun Obasanjo, who had been in power for three years as a general in the 1970s. The most powerful party was the reform-oriented PDP (Democratic People’s Party).

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In May 1999, a new constitution came into force, which promised, among other things, the population of the Niger Delta to participate in state oil revenues. For years there had been bloody clashes between the individual groups in this area, which were always about alleged economic advantages or preferential treatment. Employees of the large oil companies were repeatedly taken hostage and only released again for a high ransom. It is precisely in the part of the country that brings the state the most income from oil production that people live in great poverty. The promise of a 13 percent share of the revenue led to new uprisings and conflicts in the Niger Delta, as the peoples there asked for a higher share. Numerous oil companies withdrew from the Niger Delta,Analysts spoke of a production loss of 500,000 barrels a day. When trying to earn black gold on your own, many people drill holes in the pipelines and pour oil and gasoline into portable containers to sell on the black market. There are always explosions with fatal consequences. The situation in the Niger Delta is currently relatively stable; the threat to the oil and gas production located there by militant groups and pirates remains a risk. The situation in the Niger Delta is currently relatively stable; the threat to the oil and gas production located there by militant groups and pirates remains a risk. The situation in the Niger Delta is currently relatively stable;the threat to the oil and gas production located there by militant groups and pirates remains a risk.

Another conflict that continues to concern Nigeria is the ongoing feud between the Christian Yorubas and the Islamic Haussas: several thousand people fell victim to the bloody clashes in 2000. The conflict had escalated when, in the 1999 elections, Olusegun Obasanjo, a member of the Ibo people, came to power, while in the years of military rule the Haussa people held the most important positions. The situation escalated in mid-2000, when Islamic Sharia law was introduced as a valid law in some of Nigeria’s northern states, contrary to government regulations. Sharia has been proclaimed in twelve of Nigeria’s 36 local governments, mostly in the north.

In late 2006, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua emerged victorious from the presidential election. Shortly after President Yar’Adua’s death in May 2010, Christ Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as his successor. He won the 2011 presidential election.

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