To begin with, Nigeria is 60 years Old In 2021. Nigeria Is one of the biggest and most populated African countries. It`s also considered to be one of the most influential countries in Africa. Their main source of power comes not only from their crude oil but also from the hearts of its people.
The name Nigeria comes from the Niger River, which runs through the country. This name was coined to the country by Flora Shaw, a British journalist who traveled these lands and later became a wife to a British colonial administrator, Baron Frederick Lugard. Still, scientists also propose the idea that the word is likely an alteration of the Tuareg name egerew – nigerewen, that was used by inhabitants in the mid-19th century in the middle reaches of the Niger River.
500 BC – 1500 AD: Early History of Nigeria
1500 – 1800: Nigerian Middle Ages
1800-1960: Colonization Period
1960-1967: Independent Federation and the First Republic
1967-1970: Civil War
1970-1999: Military Rule in Nigeria. Military juntas.
1999 – present: Democratization Period.
- 1 Brief History of Nigeria
- 1.1 Early Ages (500BC – 1500 AD)
- 1.2 Middle Ages (1500-1800)
- 1.3 Colonization period (1800-1960)
- 1.4 Civil War (1967-1970)
- 1.5 Military rule in Nigeria
- 1.6 Democratization (1999-present)
Brief History of Nigeria
Early Ages (500BC – 1500 AD)
The earliest known terracotta sculptures in Nigeria were provided by the Nok Civilisation. It was the first civilization placed in Northern Nigeria. The flourish of the civilization was between 500 BC and 200 AD.
Few hundred years later, the cities Katsina and Kano have established somewhere around 999 AD. The North and West Africa the Kanem-Bornu Empire and Hausa Kingdoms prospered on those territories.
One of the Nigerian History facts that the kingdom who saved the longest sovereignty in Nigeria was the Kingdom of Nri. It`s considered to be the cradle of the Igbo people. In the history of Nigeria, they started their civilization in the tenth century and lost their independence to the British Empire in 1911.
The city of Nri and Aguleri are considered to be the origins of the Igbos myths. In West Africa, the first lost-wax process for the bronze was made in the Igbo Ukwo. It was a city under the influence of Nri. The first prominence of the Yoruba kingdoms of Oyo and Ife was noticed in the twelfth century. The earlies sign for the Ifo`s settlements is dated to the ninth century. It includes material culture, like bronze and terracotta figures.
Middle Ages (1500-1800)
Oyo gets the most massive range of influence in the early eighteenth century. The range was from modern western Nigeria to Togo. It also occurs in the Benin Empire, which lasted from the 15th to the 19th century.
The beginning of the nineteenth century was provided with Usman dan Fodia, who managed to create a successful Jihad and centralize the Fulani Empire. He controlled the territory which included the modern-day Northern and central Nigeria. The Empire lived up to 1903 when it was split up by the European colonies. For centuries, the Kingdoms in Nigeria traded with the west word through North Africa. The cities of Nigeria grew stronger and became regional centers of trade. The region became a mediator between North Africa and South Africa. Portuguese and Spanish explorers were the first Europeans who started a direct trade route with the kingdoms of Nigeria. They managed their trade operations in the ports of Calabar and Lagos. The trade with Europeans also showed the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade for Nigeria. One of the Nigerian history facts is that port Calabar in the Bight of Biafra became one of the largest markets for trading including the slave trade. Other slave trade markets included Badagry, Bonny Island, and Lagos.
The majority of slaves were captives of raids and wars. The slave was taken from the enemy territories and with time they were absorbed into the new conqueror’s culture. A series of trade routes were established through the whole of Nigeria. Some prolific slave traders were connected with the Sokoto Caliphate, Aro Confederacy, and Oyo Empire. Slavery existed on the territory of Nigeria in a large scope up to the 19th century.
The largest slave population in the history of Nigeria was concentrated in the Sokoto Caliphate. Around two million slaves were used as extensive labor in various spheres of the Sokoto Caliphate society. They provided a great impact on the agricultural sector of the economy. The slave trade imperatives that outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and the results of the Civil War in the USA made slavery illegal in most of the countries. Therefore, Europeans provided powerful support to the agricultural sector of Nigeria, as its resources were used by Europeans.
Colonization period (1800-1960)
The slave trade was supported by various European countries, like Portugal, Netherland, and Great Britain. It also supported by the various states of Africa and private companies established in Africa. With changing the economic realities of the world and the illegalization of the slave trade in 1807 by Great Britain due to the Napoleonic Wars, it was established the West Africa Squadron to attempt the international slave trade. They stopped European ships with slaves on board and intervened with the Lagos Kingship slave trade operations.
Great Britain started the Lagos bombarding in 1851. That forced Lagos to sign the Treaty between Great Britain and Lagos in 1852. The Lagos Treaty of Cession untied the hands of the British and helped them to annex Lagos. British missioners started their expanding operations shortly after the treaty. Samuel Ajayi Crowther became the first African bishop in 1864. In 1885, all European countries received the recognition of British claims for West Africa.
The British Empire established the Royal Niger Company and gave the leadership of the company to Sir George Taubman Goldie. In 1900 the company territories were given back to the British government. Therefore, on the 1st of January 1901, Nigeria became officially recognized as the protectorate of the British Empire. Independent Kingdoms on the territory of Nigeria tried to resist the control of the British. Nevertheless, they failed in a series of conflicts.
In 1897, The British conquered Benin, and the last major resistance of the African countries was suppressed with the Anglo-Aro War in 1902. In 1914, The British Empire formally united the modern territories of Nigeria under the one Colony or Protectorate of Nigeria. Still, this protectorate was divided into the Lagos Colony and North together with South protectorate.
The inhabitants of the Southern territories shared more cultural and economic relations with the British and European countries due to the coastal trade posts. Christian missions in Nigeria established the first educational institutions in the Protectorate. Children of the Nigerians elite went to the West and Great Britain specifically to get a higher education. Still, there was an imbalance between the South and North of Nigeria at that time. It`s seen even today, as Christian missions were not encouraged to come to the North, where Islam was a dominant religion. Therefore, the people of the North did not get proper European education. Moreover, the slave trade in the North did not stop until 1936.
After World War II the increased waves of nationalism across Africa left European countries no choice than to set Africa free. The British government provided Nigeria with self-government on a federal basis. In 1960, Nigeria gained independence.
Nigerian Independence. First Federation and Republic (1960-1966)
When did Nigeria become a republic? Nigeria gets its independence from the United Kingdom as a Common Wealth on 1 October 1960. The government consisted of the Nigerian People`s Congress, The National Council of Nigeria, and the Cameroons.
The first Governor-General in independent Nigeria became Nnamdi Azikiwe. The political tensions between the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba were pretty sharp at that time. The Imbalance in power created tensions between Nigerians. Southern Cameroon opted to join the Republic of Cameroon, where Northern Cameroon preferred to stay in Nigeria.
In 1963, the nation formed the first Federal Republic. In 1965, the Nigerian National Democratic Party came to power in the west.
Civil War (1967-1970)
The misbalance and disequilibrium in political powers within the country led to the first military coups. The first registered military coup in the history of Nigeria was provided in January 1966, when Majors Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna managed to murder Premiers Ladoke Akintola and Ahmadu Bello together with prime minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Still, they struggled to form the central government. Later the President Nwafor Orizu handed the control to General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi. The Tension grew between the North and The South with the counter-coup in 1966 and the rise of Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon. Igbos in the North struggled from persecutions and fled to the East.
In May 1967, The Eastern Regions declared Independence and formed a new state – the Republic of Biafra. In 1967, the Nigerian government started a war with Biafra. Three years later, the Biafra state was captured.
Military rule in Nigeria
The 1970s provided the oil boom in Nigeria. The country rich in crude oil deposits joined OPEC. Despite gigantic revenues from crude oil production, The Nigerian government provides a little improvement to the life of Nigerians. Moreover, crude oil became a major revenue source for Nigeria. With no alternative sources and revenues together with the bad political situation, it created the rise of federalism in Nigeria.
From 1979, Nigeria suffered from one military coup to another, which provided a little success in the economy. In 1979 Olusegun Obasanjo transferred the power to Shehu Shagari. The regiment of Shehu was viewed as corrupt and was later overthrown by Muhammadu Buhari in 1984. Buhari also suffered from the military coup in 1985.
The New head of state, Ibrahim Babangida managed to stay in power up to the 1993 presidential elections, which were annulled by him later.
In 1993 he appointed a new successor to the head of the government – Ernest Shonekan. In that 1993, the regiment of Shonekan was overthrown by the military coup of General Sani Abacha.
The regiment was held up to 1998 with the death of the dictator. His successor General Abdulsalami Abubakar adopted a new constitution for Nigeria and transferred the power to the winner of democratic elections – Obasanjo.
Nigeria gained democracy with a new leader – Olusegun Obasanjo as a new President of Nigeria.
In that period, Nigeria showed some positive tendencies regarding fighting the corruption, civil and personal freedoms, democratization of society.
In 2007, Umara Yar`Adua became the head of the Nigerian Government from the elections. He died in 2010, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan became his successor on the president post. He was officially reelected in the 2011 presidential campaign, where he defeated the leader of Congress for Progressive Change – Muhammadu Buhari.
The rule of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is praised as a period of limiting risks and unrest in society. Nevertheless, in the next elections of 2015, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari.
In 2016 Nigeria came into a new era of unrest with economic recession and the rise of terrorist organizations within the country.
In 2017, the new policies of the Government keep unease position of the citizens with a new raise of protests by economic, political, and national issues.