I am a Nigerian and a bona fide citizen of the country, it is key to be well grounded about the history of Nigeria, not only for the sake of gaining knowledge but also for the benefit of generations to come.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. – Marcus Garvey
Nigeria is a country to be reckoned with in Africa. Nigeria is the giant among all countries in Africa; A giant in terms of geographical size, population and economy among others.
In this article, you would be informed on detailed history of Nigeria before and after independence and more uncovered information.
Remember; “We are not makers of history. We are made by history”. – Martin Luther King Jr.
Pre Colonial History of Nigeria Pdf
Simply put, the Pre-colonial history of Nigeria is all about a period of time before Nigeria was colonized by the British.
It is important to briefly take a glance look at what happened in the early history of Nigeria, which of course indicates a period of history in Nigeria before the Common Era.
Earlier in 11,000 BC, there were people dwelling in the south-eastern (ugwuelle-uturu) part of Nigeria and Isarun, where the remains of the oldest fossils were found by archaeologist as far back as 9000 BCE.
During this era, it was said that industries producing hunting weapons and non-metals like ceramics were found by some pastoralist. Sounds interesting right?
To mark a transition from the three age system, namely; stone, bronze and Iron Age which indicates the final epoch of the three age systems, there came the earliest identifiable culture in the history of Nigeria, named the Nok culture.
This culture called Nok culture appeared in the north-eastern part of Nigeria around 1500 BC in Jos plateau state, specifically lasting for approximately 2000 years as it disappeared for unknown situation around 500 AD.
Accidentally in the 1930s, the tin miners in Jos Plateau state, discovered terracotta figurines which was produced by the Nok people. Although, the first discovery of Nok terracotta was in 1928 by Colonel Den Young.
We can then conclude that terracotta is one of the distinctive features attributed to the Nok culture. Others include;
- Nok stylish appearance. Piercing of some parts of the body such as eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
- Use of numerous jewelry and different postures among others.
- Detailed and refined hairstyles of most of Nok arts.
In the pre-colonial history of Nigeria, which covers 19th century, history as it that the area in and around Nigeria was dominated by West African powerful sophisticated and most influential empires or kingdoms/tribes.
Among these sophisticated societies in the history of Nigeria where there was an extensive trading activities among themselves, were
- the Yoruba city states and kingdoms of ife, oyo, and ijebu in south-west;
- the west, the Edo Benin empire;
- the north kingdom, the Islamic Kanim Borno empire;
- the southeast, the Igbo kingdom of Onitsha;
- And the various Hausa-Fulani kingdoms; Hausa city-state and kingdom of katsina, kano, zaira, and Gobir in the north central Nigeria.
Let’s see how events unfolded.
Funnily, the Europeans already penetrated these West African powerful empires and kingdoms by way of slave trading which was eventually abolished in 1807 by the British. This influenced the publicity of Nigeria globally.
Can we say Nigeria as longed deserved some accolades?
An end to the slave trade in Nigeria made it possible in an expanse form for business transaction from Africa to Europe, especially palm oil produced in the West Africa coastal regions.
The History of Nigeria from 1914 till Date 1960
The history of Nigeria from 1914 would be incomplete without mentioning Lord Fredrick Lugard the then British colonial governor.
Remember that during the pre-colonial history of Nigeria, several states were formed whereby these were the sophisticated powerful empires and kingdoms.
This prompted the British who were ready to turn the separated states across the western region into a colony. It wasn’t easy for them though but gradually they were able to establish their dominance.
The British influence glared in the then Nigeria and the Nigeria today when there was a stop to slavery and as part of anti-slavery campaign, as a way to penetrate into Lagos.
They (British) trooped into Lagos in 1851 and successfully dismissed from power the then Oba who was a pro-slave, thus annexing Lagos in 1861 establishing the oil river protectorate in 1884.
Basically, 1914 ends the pre-colonial era as most of the now northern and southern regions were dominated by the British colonies.
Under the administration of Governor Fredrick Lugard, in 1900, south and north protectorates of Nigeria were amalgamated as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.
In the history of Nigeria, it is without doubt we note the importance of the amalgamation of Nigeria in January 1, 1914 under the administration of Governor Fredrick Lugard.
As amalgamation marks the efforts made by these British colonial government uniting the different cultures/people and making Nigeria a one country with one central colonial administration.
This could mean if the amalgamation didn’t come to play, Nigeria wouldn’t have emerged as one country. We won’t be addressed as one Nigeria rather there would have been various countries in Nigeria.
Another interesting fact to note in the history of Nigeria, is the fact that, the British colonizing Nigeria has brought about the end to already existed kingdoms in Nigeria such as Oyo Empire, Benin kingdom and Fulani kingdoms which might have existed as nation’s states.
The influence of the British made it possible for Nigeria to be recognized as a British colony which was also achieved in the now known Ghana but then known as old gold coast and Sierra Leone.
In summary, imperial foreign power colonized Nigeria like most other parts of Africa. The now Nigeria we are, existed due to amalgamation, taking over the northern and southern regions, which was evidently achieved by Governor Lord F. Lugard in 1914.
The fight to have a modern nation was evident as many diverse inhabitants of the colonized Nigeria hunger for a nation that should be modern, which was evident in the mistrust between different ethnic groups.
National spirit I’d say began to manifest amongst the leaders having agreed to kick these British colonial masters out after amalgamation as a result of their selfish interest, streamlining economic resources primarily to serve them.
While they left peanuts to the natives, such as ports facilities, out of date railway and some road transport facilities that still benefited the British who would easily exploit agricultural and mining products exported out of the then colonial Nigeria.
One thing I deduce is Nigeria was indeed and still blessed with resources. Also Read the top 20 largest states of Nigeria and their Gross Domestic Product.
Brief History of Nigeria From 1960 Till Date pdf
Finally, the agitated freedom was bagged from the British rule. An independence movement gained Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960; Nigeria became an independent country taking over the control of territories, politics and that of military.
Nigeria, as a federation of these three regions; northern, western and eastern regions retains a measure of self-governing. Learn more about Independence day of Nigeria and 41 interesting dates to remember.
The British act of parliament installed the first indigenous Governor-General was Azikiwe Nnamdi who represented the British monarch and ceremonial the head of state appointed by the crown.
Responsibilities embedded on the Governor-General, was responsible for
- Appointing of the prime minister; and
- Choosing of candidate among contending leaders where there wasn’t parliamentary majority.
Jaja Wachukwu was the first black speaker of the Nigerian parliament from the year 1959 to 1960, who received the freedom charter which is the Nigeria’s instrument of independence on October 1, 1960.
Political parties during the post pre-colonial history of Nigeria, consist of the main ethnic groups;
- Representing the conservative, Hausa and Muslim, the NPC (Nigerian People’s Congress) dominated the north;
- Representing the Igbo and Christian, the NCNC (National Convention of Nigerian Citizens) dominated the east; and
- Representing the Yoruba, the AG (Action Group) dominated the west.
While legislative power was vested on a Hausa man through a general election, granting Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa emerging as Nigeria’s first prime minister.
For more details about the history of Nigeria in the first and second republic, see our detailed post on the Nigerian politics since 1960
Due to the alliance made between NCNC and NPC in 1962, while there’s violence engulfing in the west the opposition party AG (Chief Obafemi Awolowo being the leader then) have a split.
There was need for a constitution to be made after Nigeria’s independence in 1960 from the British entailing how the administration and leadership of Nnamdi Azikiwe would be done. You can read more about the structure of Nigerian government in this post.
Based on regional constitution, the northern region departed due to some special provision with Islamic customs and laws, while the United Nations organised plebiscite in February 11, 1961 to determine the disposition of the south Cameroons and north Cameroons.
This led to these regions becoming full part of Cameroon joining formerly French-administered Cameroon while ceasing to be part of Nigeria as a federated region.
In October 1963, under the administration of the former Governor-General but then becoming the first president, Nigeria became a republic – The federal republic of Nigeria. Read More about the Nigerian profile.
Three years later after a coup d’état began on January 15, 1966, Nigeria was under a military rule. You should learn more about the Military rule in the history of Nigeria.
And by 1967, some eastern states in the region formed a Republic of Biafra. One question is what led to one of the regions in Nigeria agitating to Biafra?
It was as a result of the cultural, economic, religious and ethnic tension among various people in Nigeria. You should learn more about the first civil war in Nigeria back in 1967
Nigeria thus became a republic again, but sadly ousted by military personnel by the likes of Yakubu Gown, Murtala Muhammed, and Olusegun Obasanjo.
These military men altered the constitution and thus created 19 federal states in the history of Nigeria. More states were created though.
History of Nigeria pdf (Nigeria History Summary)
According to Eduardo Galeano who says “History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later”.
Nigeria was not formed by chance as explained above; Nigeria has so many histories behind her existence.
As the 7th most populous nation in the world, there is diversity in her cultural, political and ethnic existence which is traced from the pre-colonial era till date.
As a result of these diversities among her citizens, the current economic and political struggle is yet to reach a permanent solution due to differences in culture. Read more about the list of all Nigeria ethnic groups and language spoken.
In the history of Nigeria, we can say Nigeria today can thus be traced back to pre-historic dwellers living as early as 1100BC, the various kingdoms and empires of the 17th century.
The Lagos invasion by the British annexing Lagos into a colony; Lagos was a seat of power serving as both political and economic capital.
But there was plan to move the capital of Nigeria from Lagos to Abuja. Read the creation of Abuja and how it was chosen as Nigeria’s capital.
I’m sure you’ll want to have the history of Nigeria saved on your device for offline use, Download the Nigeria history Pdf here
Political history of Nigeria from 1960 till Date
Earlier said above about the history of Nigeria from 1960, on 1960 October 1st, Nigeria gained her independence from the British and also gained a substantial measure of self-governing.
The Hausa Fulani whose religion is Islam dominated the northern region, representing the National people’s Congress (NPC), while the Igbo whose religion is Christianity dominated the eastern region, representing the National Convention of Nigerian Citizen (NCNC).
The Yoruba’s who also practiced Christianity dominated the western region ably representing the Action Group (AG) respectively were political parties formed consisting of ethnic groups..
Although, the three main political groups formed for 14 years after the year 1914 were the Action Group in the West, the National Council of Nigeria and Cameron in the East. Today we have 91 political parties
Nigeria had control over its National affairs whereby proclaiming itself the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 0ctober 1963, and according to history of Nigeria, Nigeria had experienced bad leadership and administrations both civilian and military rules.
You can read more about tales about all Nigerian past presidents from 1960 till date and how the power tussle brought about series of coups to overthrow incumbent presidents.
Nigeria today is currently ruled by a democratic system of government under the leadership of President Muhammed Buhari GCFR, since her independence, you will agree with me that Nigeria has faced loads of challenges.
Check out this detailed video by Jide Olanrewaju from Naij for more information about the history of Nigeria. The British paid 865,000 Pounds to do what? Check it out.
Also Read: The current population of Nigeria by states
Latest News In Nigeria Today
It’s good to note that even in the face of adversity Nigeria as achieved, this is made possible as a result of combined efforts of each individual. Every Nigerian thus deserves some accolades, well done.
Here’s a quick review and highlights of Nigeria’s latest achievements, in the areas of security, economic development, and provision of amenities among others:
- The unfortunate incidence in Chibok, where some girls were kidnapped and held hostage. Achievement attributed to the leadership of the president and vice president, is the release of about 106 chibok girls. There’s prospect to have all these girls back hopefully;
- The issue of insurgency, arresting about 16,000 members of the of the boko haram;
- Rebuilding the lives of the IDPs affected by the boko haram attack; introducing an improved mechanism for distribution aid to these victims;
- Reinforcing the Nigerian Military forces; equipping the Nigerian armed forces;
- Curbing kidnapping issues happening across the country;
- Exit from Nigeria’s first worse recession in 29 years, where agriculture sector was on spotlight;
- Stability of the Naira against the dollar as Central Bank of Nigeria introduced a new forex window for Investors and Exporters;
- Pumping in funds for nationwide capital and infrastructural projects, 1.2 trillion naira was released;
- Bank verification number was implemented
- Payment of pensions to police officers who were granted Presidential pardon in 2,000 after serving in the former Biafra Police during the Nigerian Civil War.
- Recoveries of tens of millions of dollars via the whistle blowing programme against money looters;
- Kick of the Social investment programmes to tackle poverty and hunger across the country.
- Daily feeding of about 5.2 million primary school children in about 28,249 schools in 19 states across the federation;
- Empowerment programme such as N-power Job scheme for unemployed graduate;
- Granting of loans to farmers, artisans and traders via the Boi loan for graduates;
- Launching of tax amnesty scheme; and more.
Impressed? Well I am though, as it indicates tremendous efforts.
Conclusively, from the history of Nigeria discussed in this article, one can say that Nigeria is indeed the giant of Africa.
Nigeria is a West Africa nation endowed with natural resources, the biggest black African nation, has a surge of spiritual dynamism which makes it awesome despite the numerous problems facing her.
The History of Nigeria (Summary)
Now you have the history of Nigeria in you! Nigeria has so many beautiful places which has attracted tourists from around the world.
Quoting the present vice president of Nigeria prof. Osibajo, “Nigeria’s unity is one for which enough blood has been spilled and many thousands of lives have been lost.
Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives, and it will be wrong for us as good men and women of goodwill in this generation, to toy with those sacrifices that have been made”.
This implies we be good patriotic citizens of this great nation called Nigeria, reminisce on the complicated colonial eras in the history of Nigeria, say no to violence live in peace and unity.
I would draw the curtain on this note that “there’s no country in world with diversity, confidence and talent and black pride like Nigeria”. I am proud to be a Nigerian, are you?
So, that’s Nigeria history summary. Tell us what interests you and why from the history of Nigeria. Thank you for taking out time to read through this post.
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