Older Stone Age finds include possible Oldowan deposits in the Northeast as well as acheulene and nuclear utensils on the Jos plateau. At a cave settlement in Iwo Ileru in the southwest, a bargain sequence includes. microliters from about 10,000 and ceramics from about 3500 BC Permanent housing from the first millennium BC are known from Daima, a large settlement mound on Lake Chad. The residents fished, hunted and farmed and livestock.
Iron handling is in ancient times (c. 500–200 BC) associated with fragments of the kind of terracotta figures known from Nok on the Jos plateau. Later, the use of iron became more widespread, and by the end of the first millennium AD. the cemetery at Igbo Ukwu shows a marked wealth, including bronze objects à cire perdue.
In older representations of Nigeria’s history, the people of the region are sometimes attributed to long-distance origins, for example that Yoruba came from Egypt and that Hausa is a mixture of peoples from the south such as Sahara and Berber from North Africa. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Nigeria. Now, Nigerians are rather seen as descendants of a common Stone Age population. Linguistic and cultural patterns and blood group studies point in this direction.
The earliest state formations during Nigeria’s pre-colonial eras were located on the savannah in the north and had as a financial condition the caravan trade through the Sahara to the Mediterranean coast. Kanem in the area around Lake Chad was a kingdom as early as the 8th century. It expanded west to Bornu, which in the 1300s became the central part of the kingdom (see Kanem – Bornu). This was at least superficially Islamized. The same applies to the thriving Hausa towns west of Bornu (Gobir, Kano and others). Hausa became the region’s foremost traders. Their language is thus spreading so that it is now the first language for about 20 million and lingua franca for perhaps half of Nigeria’s population. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Hausa cities came under the rule of Fulani as a result of Usman dan Fodio’s holy war (jihad).
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Nigeria. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.
In the rainforest area in the southwest, the Edo and Yoruba peoples were dominant. The oldest of the cultural centers was Ife, historically known primarily through its bronze and terracotta sculpture from the early Middle Ages. Its artistic traditions then continued in the Benin kingdom closer to the coast. The kingdom’s heyday began in the 15th century and culminated in the 18th century. Further west, the Yoruba state of Oyo became powerful, especially during the 18th century, which is linked to the slave trade and slave traffic across the Atlantic. During the 19th century, Yoruba was divided by mutual feuds. The commercial city of Ibadan emerged as a military state and succeeded, among other things, in stopping the Fulani march to the south (c. 1840). Alongside the Hausa and Yoruba most numerous people group in Nigeria, Igboin the southeast, never organized in large monarchical states. In return, a genealogical, commercial and cultural network linked the various village communities.
The big stage change in Nigeria’s history is the transition from the older caravan trade economy to the Atlantic economy. It began on a small scale when Portuguese traders visited the Benin Empire at the end of the 14th century. Later, for example, Dutch, French and English took over the export of West African slaves to America. During the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the early 1800s, millions of people were shipped across the Atlantic.
When Britain took up the fight against the slave trade at the beginning of the 19th century, European influence entered a new phase. British warships were stationed on the coast, English commercial companies developed a new, more active trade in palm oil and other forest products, Christian mission was taken up both on and off the coast. To support these British interests, a consul for the coast was appointed. In 1861, the British conquered the city of Lagos.
At the same time, work was underway to explore and commercially exploit the interior of the Niger area. By 1830, the brothers John and Richard Lander had been canoeing from the area of the present Cainji dam to the delta, thereby establishing the course and estuary of the river. Flood traffickers operated Niger from the 1850s, and trading stations were set up up to Niger’s confluence with the Benue River.
In 1879, the various companies were merged into a company, the Royal Niger Company (RNC), which in 1886 received a royal letter with the right to act as governing power in the region, while Britain took direct control of the coastal districts. As the RNC became involved in fighting with people in the north, troops were dispatched under the command of the eminent colonial officer and officer Frederick Lugard (1858-1945), and in 1900 the British government itself took over the protectorate over both the northern and southern regions. In 1914, the regions were merged into a protectorate, called Nigeria, with Lugard as general governor. However, it was most in the south that the modern era broke through with a mission-based educational system. A political, cultural and religious divide arose between Northern and Southern Nigeria.
The emerging Nigerian independence movement was also regionally divided. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the leader of the 1944 National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) organization with supporters mainly in the southeastern part of the country. In 1950, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) was formed with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as leader. At the same time, Action Group (AG) was formed with the chief Obafemi Awolow (1909–87) as leader in order to organize the nationalist movement in the Yoruba-dominated Southwest region.
After a series of British constitutional experiments, Balewa became Nigeria’s first federal prime minister. In 1960 Nigeria achieved full independence. NPC and NCNC formed a government coalition with Balewa as head of government, while Awolowos AG became opposition. The Governor General became Azikiwe. Nigeria became Republic of the Commonwealth in 1963 with Azikiwe as president.
Civil war and military coups
However, the contradictions between the regions led to wear and tear, especially in the north, where immigrant and often administratively and financially leading Igbos were subjected to assaults that were degenerate into pogroms. In 1966, a group of officers, most Igbo, staged a coup and executed, among others, Balewa. In turn, they were imprisoned by Army commander Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (1924-66), who abolished the federation and the political parties. He was soon kidnapped and murdered by soldiers from the north, and Chief of Staff Yakubu Gowon seized power and restored the federation. But in 1967 Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu proclaimed the independent (Igbo) Republic of Biafra. Civil war broke out, which ended in 1970 with Biafra’s total submission. See Biafra.
Gowon tried to resolve the regional contradictions by establishing new states. The issue of census became highly controversial, as the representation of the regions in federal agencies was determined by population figures. Gowon was deposed in 1975 by a coup led by Murtala Ramat Mohammed (1938-76), in turn murdered and replaced by Olusegun Obasanjo. During him, a return to civilian government was being prepared, and a new constitution with stronger presidential power following the American pattern was drafted. The first president of the so-called Second Republic was Shehu Shagari.
Nigeria, which in the 1960s and 1970s lived high on income from newly discovered oil sources, was hit in the 1980s by falling oil prices and huge foreign debt. 1983 came the next military coup. In 1985, a very tough regime under Muhammadu Buhari was replaced by a slightly milder regime under Ibrahim Babangida. Babangida, who was Major General, promised a gradual return to democracy and in 1989 allowed political parties again. But to counter regional divisions, only one left and one right party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention, were allowed(NRC), both created by the military and assigned “just” left and right-hand programs. In 1990 local elections were held and in 1991 governor and state elections. In the 1992 federal elections, the Social Democrats gained a majority in both chambers of Parliament.
The last step towards democracy was according to Babangida’s plans for the June 1993 presidential election. The election was conducted and won according to the preliminary results published by SDP candidate Moshood Abiola. Babangida refused to approve the results, prompting Abiola to proclaim himself president to himself. The decision to deprive Abiola victory triggered riots and strikes in southern Nigeria, forcing Babangida to surrender power to a transitional government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan (born 1936). However, the new government’s strong man was Sani Abacha, who outmaneuvered Shonekan and made himself president.
Abacha banned all political activity, appointed military and state governors, and dissolved the federal parliament, state governments and local councils. Although Abacha also promised an immediate return to civilian rule, his military regime soon emerged as the most brutal and corrupt in Nigeria’s history. The dictatorial regime triggered strong international criticism, and the United States and Britain imposed sanctions on Nigeria. However, they did not have much effect because oil imports from Nigeria were not covered by the embargo. In November 1995, the protests of the outside world increased further after Abacha, after a litigation trial, had executed the author Ken Saro-Wiva (1941–95) and eight other activists from the Ogoni group.
In 1997, the military junta announced that civilian rule would be reintroduced through parliamentary and presidential elections in 1998. Five parties of 23 applicants were allowed to register, but all were conservative and sympathetic to the regime. When all five parties then nominated Sani Abacha as their presidential candidate, it became clear that the general elections would not lead to democracy. However, the conditions suddenly changed when Abacha died in unclear circumstances in June 1998. Major General Abdulsalami Abubakar assumed power and immediately began a return to democracy.
The reintroduction of democracy
The elections under the military regime were annulled, and the five parties dissolved. New parties could be formed, and local elections were held in 1998. However, only the three parties that received the most votes were allowed to participate in the upcoming elections at a higher level. As the dominant party emerged the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), to which, among others, former President Olusegun Obasanjo joined. The PDP gained a satisfactory majority in both parliamentary chambers in the 1999 elections, and a week later Obasanjo was elected president.
Under Obasanjo’s rule, Nigeria was characterized by strong tensions between the central government and the states, as well as between religious and ethnic groups. A large number of northern, Muslim-dominated states’ decision to introduce Islamic law, sharia, triggered unrest with thousands of deaths. Some Islamic courts’ decision to sentence women to death through stoning for alleged adultery or fornication was met by strong protests from the outside world, and the death sentences were not enforced. Bloody settlements between ethnic groups are considered to have been triggered by competition for land or jobs. The local population’s demand for an increased share of the revenues from oil production has led to clashes in the Niger Delta, where The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta(MEND) has been the dominant of a number of armed movements with a mix of political and criminal motives. Their main requirement is a more equitable distribution of oil revenues in the delta area.
Obasanjo also had a strained relationship with Parliament, which in 2002 threatened to initiate a judicial process against the president for incompetence and waste of public funds. Despite that, he was re-elected with close to 62 percent of the vote in the 2003 presidential election. He almost defeated another former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari. In the parliamentary elections that same year, the PDP consolidated its vast majority. During Obasanjo’s new term, the conflict in the Niger Delta intensified, with major disruptions to oil production as a result. Corruption also increased and a large number of leading politicians became subject to criminal investigations.
Obasanjo’s ambitions to be re-elected through a constitutional amendment were again voted down by the Senate. The 2007 presidential shift thus became the first at least formally democratic handover in Nigeria’s history. However, the election process became extremely violent and was characterized by gross cheating. EU election observers rejected the elections as completely undemocratic. The PDP maintained its dominance at all levels and its candidate Umaru Yar’Adua was elected president.
Yar’Adua had some success in creating peace in the Niger Delta. However, after a long period of heart disease and care abroad, he was forced in February 2010 to surrender his powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, however without resigning formally. When Yar’Adua passed away in May, Jonathan was sworn in as president.
According to an informal agreement within the PDP, the presidential post would be held eight years at a time by someone from Northern and Southern Nigeria, respectively. Jonathan, who is a Christian from the south, faced the 2011 election, despite this, in the PDP primary election, where he won. In the April presidential election, he defeated Muhammadu Buhari by 59 percent of the vote in the first round. The election results triggered violent riots in the northern, Muslim-dominated parts of the country, where Buhari had the strongest support. The riots claimed hundreds of lives and forced tens of thousands of people to flee. In the Senate and House of Representatives elections, PDP again became the largest party.
The unrest continued in 2011 in mainly the northern parts of the country, where the Islamist terrorist movement Boko Haram carried out a series of bloody attacks. The organization also took on a suicide attack on UN premises in the capital, Abuja. Boko Haram’s success continued and the movement took control of much of northeastern Nigeria. The fact that the regular army had a hard time asserting itself against the militiamen received a lot of attention ahead of the 2015 presidential election and this was postponed for six weeks, according to the government because of the current security situation.
In the election, Buhari, who ran for the fourth time, managed to get 54 percent of the vote and defeat Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari thus became the first in the country’s history to win an election over an incumbent president, and the first president since the reinstatement of democracy in 1999 that does not represent the PDP. Buhari has his political residence in the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party formed in 2013 through a merger of several major opposition parties. Jonathan’s reduced support was explained in part by his failure in the fight against Boko Haram, but also by the continued widespread corruption and widespread poverty in the oil-rich country, which during Jonathan’s time in power took over the position as Africa’s largest economy.
Buhari gained renewed confidence in the 2019 election, in which he was pitted against the PDP’s candidate, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (born 1946). The tone between the government and the opposition sharpened in the weeks before the election and the number of casualties for election-related violence increased; a total of over 230 people were killed during the period October 2018 – February 2019. The election itself was canceled by the Election Authority at the last moment and held a week later. The reason was that the necessary material was not transported to all polling stations. According to the official result, Buhari was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote.