The History of Nigeria and Her Journey to Independence


The history of Nigeria is deeply rooted in the quick enlightenment of outstanding art and creativity. The area which was popularly known as the summit location for the trade of Agricultural product and cultural influence is the Plateau region.

A major reason for this is that the Plateau indigenes were creative agriculturalists who made instruments and weapons of iron for Terracotta figures and in the 500BCE Nok Culture flourished.

In the Northern region, they cultivated a state system that was founded on divine kingship. They were known for cattle and horse rearing, they also developed cotton and cereals. Fabrics and iron are also part of the commodities produced by the Northerners.

However, two different empires later arose which are Hausa- Bokwoi CE 100-1000 and the Kanem-Borno in the 11th Century. After this, the northern indigenous were converted to Islam, so they engaged in gold and slave trading in the Sahara areas.

The Ife Kingdom was established by the Yorubas in the South-western region before the CE 1000. The southwestern migrants lived in the forest after they were seriously attacked by the slave traders.
Meanwhile, the Benin culture greatly linked to the bronze Sculpture produced by ifem which was referred to as the “lost wax” strategy.

1900 – 1960: The Colonial Era

In the year 1472, certain explorers from Portugal found an existing civilized country. The names of these Portuguese are: Fernao do po, Lopo Goncalves, Pero Escobar, and Joao de Santarem.

The country was divided into four kingdoms which are Hausa, Oyo, Borno, and Benin. Also, this country had indigenous cultures which are agricultural, industrial and artistic.

However, in the 15th century, the indigenes of the Benin kingdom started selling out slaves to the Portuguese in order to get Firearms and Spices from them.

In the 18th century, the British became the leaders of the slave trade.

In the year 1807, foreign missionaries introduced the Christian religion and fought against slavery which resulted in the prohibition of the slave trade.
Asides this, those missionaries also brought a good treatment for Malaria; Quinine.
The economic state of the Southern part of Nigeria, however, became influential due to the trade of palm oil.

Jihad By The Fulanis

In the 19th century, some emirs who disapproved of the Hausa State of Gobir started new regions and city-states which led to the widespread of the Islamic religion.

In the year 1861, the Yorubas moved nearer to the British who settled in Lagos then and by 1900, Nigeria became a territory ruled by Britain.
Later in the year 1954, following the 1951 constitution which gave a measure of power to Nigerians, Nigeria became a federation.

The name “Nigeria” was formed by the wife of Lord Fredrick Luggard; Lady Flora Shaw while she was posting to the Times newspaper illustrating the ‘River Niger’

After some time, the indigenes of Nigeria began requesting for independence from the rule of the British Colonia masters.

Within the years 1922 to 1959, well-known Nigerians such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Herbert Macaulay, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Sir Ahmadu Bello and several others took the lead role in fighting for Nigeria to be a nation.

Following this, the British came up with different constitutions in order to make Nigeria have a certain level of involvement in the affairs of their own territory.

Some of these constitutions are the 1922 constitution titled the Clifford Constitution and the 1946 Constitution titled the Richard Constitution.

How Nigeria Got Her Independence

After been a federation, Nigeria eventually got her independence in 1960 from the United Kingdom led by the Hausa and Muslim dominated group; Northern People’s Congress and the Igbo/Christians dominated Nigeria Council Of Nigerian Citizens.

The Nigerians’ strong passion for independence became more evident after the Second World War.

Nigeria became The Federal Republic of Nigeria in the year 1963 even as
Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first president.

Major General Aguiyi Ironsi became the first Military ruler and leader of a new government after a coup that claimed the life of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in January 1966.

In the month of July same year, the Northerns armies retaliated with a new coup which ended the life of Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt-Colonel Yakubu Gowon came into office.

Yakubu Gowon restored Nigeria to been a Federal State as he established 12 states instead of the former 4 regions.

He also promised to restore democracy through the inclusion of Civilians in Governmental affairs.

The seemingly peaceful regime was later interrupted by another military coup.
However, in the year 1998, democracy was restored to Nigeria as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the first Civilian president to be elected into power under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

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Other Interesting Facts About Nigeria’s History.

  • In the year 1967, the month of May precisely, Lt-Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojokwu proclaim the eastern part of Nigeria to be an independent state with the name ‘The Republic Of Biafra’
  • On the 1st of October 1960, Nigeria became an independent nation no longer under the rulership of the British.
  • On the first of October 1963, Nigeria was declared to be a republic even as Nnamdi Azikwe became the first ruling President.
  • In the year 1961, Southern Cameroon was separated from been part of Nigeria.
  • On the 15th of January 1966, the Nigerian army executed it’s first coup.
  • On the 29th of May 1966, There was a huge riot against the igbo people by the major towns located in the Northern part of Nigeria.
  • Within the years; 1970-1979, there were few military rulers like Lt-Col Yakubu Gowon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and General Murtala Mohammed who ruled over Nigeria and modified the Constitution by establishing 19 states.
  • The years 1979 to 1983 marked the second Republic in Nigeria under the rule of the first democratically elected president of Nigeria; Shehu Shagari.
  • In the month of July 1995, the former president Olusegun Obasanjo was sentenced to a 25 years jail term by an unknown military judiciary claiming that Olusegun Obasanjo participated in a plan to unseat the government in power



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