Nigeria History


Little is known of the historical events of Southern Nigeria before the arrival of the Portuguese. The coastal regions were perhaps the seats, from ancient times, of black tribes, while the innermost areas and in particular those corresponding to Northern Nigeria were in various periods the destination of emigration and meeting point of Arab, Hamitic and Negroid peoples. Islam began to spread in this vast area between the end of the century. XII and the beginning of the XIII deeply influencing it both from a religious and a political and cultural point of view. According to nexticle, the power of the kingdom of Kanem reached on the other hand – starting from 1000-1100 AD. C. – even those districts where the Haussa people had given birth to numerous city-states such as Kano, Zaria, Katsina, Daura, Gobir, Rano. With the transfer of the kingdom of Kanem west of Lake Chad and with its absorption in that of Bornu, it was the latter that extended its influence over the Haussa emirates to the east, while the Songhai empire felt the weight of its expansion on the same emirates to the west. Kano, Katsina and Gobir were, in turn, torn apart by recurrent internal wars until the advent of the “holy war” launched in the early 1800s by ʽOsman dan Fōdio and his successors.

In the southern regions, the Yoruba populations to the west of the lower reaches of the Niger, and the Ibo and Ibibio populations to the east. The first had given life, since the century. XIII-XIV, to kingdoms or empires characterized by a high organizational and cultural level (such as the kingdoms of Ife, Benin, Oyo) often fighting for mutual dominance. The Ibos, on the other hand, remained divided into numerous clans without a solid central power. The Portuguese established, since their appearance on those coasts in the second half of the century. XV, relations with the native populations who were scourged in the following centuries by the slave trade practiced by European slave traders with the connivance of local leaders. After the Act of 1807 with which Great Britain proclaimed the abolition of trafficking, the English fleet began a decisive action against slave ships by substituting the trade in raw materials and local products for the slave trade in those regions. The cycle of great explorations, which began at the end of the century. XVIII from Mungo Park with the discovery of the upper Niger course, then had as main protagonists in Nigeria Denham and Clapperton (who, through the Sahara, reached Bornu in 1823), Lander and Barth. This was accompanied by a courageous missionary activity. In 1849 John Beecroft was appointed consul for the delta region and in 1861 Lagos was declared an English colony (Berlin Conference, 1884-85). On the initiative of Sir George Goldie the Royal Niger Company was born in 1886 which extended the British influence from the coast to the northern regions using the work of F. Lugard. In 1897 Benin was conquered and on 1 January 1900 (also due to growing international difficulties) the competences of the Royal Niger Company were taken over by the English government which appointed Lugard high commissioner of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. In 1914 the northern and southern regions of Nigeria were amalgamated into a single administration, while a Legislative Council was established in the ancient colony of Lagos. Numerous political ferments enlivened the southern regions between the two world wars, and important constitutional changes were introduced after 1945.


The Macpherson Constitution gave shape to the Federation of Nigeria in 1954 and, under the pressure of the most dynamic political parties such as the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons of Azikiwe and the Action Group of Awolowothe western and eastern regions achieved self-government in 1957. The northern region, where Ahmadu Bello’s Northern People’s Party was based on more conservative positions, achieved self-government only in 1959. On 1 October 1960 the Federation of Nigeria acceded to full independence, first as a monarchy linked to the British crown, and then as a republic (1963), without prejudice to its belonging to the Commonwealth. Azikiwe was appointed head of state, while the direction of the government remained entrusted to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. The irreconcilable ethnic, religious and political conflicts between the three regions culminated in a bloody coup d’état in 1966 which led to the establishment of a military government led first by General Ironsi and then by General Gowon. Ojukwu and the proclamation of the Republic of Biafra sparked a dramatic civil war between the latter and the Federation of Nigeria, which ended only in January 1970 with the annihilation of Biafra and its reintegration into the federal context.

Nigeria History