Nigeria Impact of the Past

On October 1, 1960, Britain granted Nigeria independence.  It had been a formal colony less that sixty years but had experienced European imperialism for much longer.  The imperialists take much blame for Nigeria’s troubles.  The deranged it with a massive slave trade, took it over at gunpoint, cobbled together an artificial country composed of tribes who disliked each other, and then left.  Thus it was not surprising that Nigeria, weak from the start, should collapse into military dictatorships.  Nigeria is not unique; it is the story of many nations created by the imperialists.

Nigeria Facts

  • About 133.9 million people live in Nigeria – more people than in any other country in any other country in Africa.
  • Nigeria’s largest city is the port of Lagos, the former capital.
  • Abuja, the present capital is a planned city that was begun during the 1980s.
  • Nigeria’s important cash crops is rubber, peanuts, palm oil, and cacao.
  • The Niger River is Africa’s third-longest river, after the Nile and Congo.
  • Nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups; the four largest are: Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo.
  • Nigeria is one of the world’s major oil-producing countries.

Nigeria Timeline

1500s – height of Songhai Empire

1650s to 1860s  – slave trade results in forced migration of millions

Early 1800s  –  spread of Islam in the region, especially in the north

1903  –  British conquest of the region is complete

1914  –  northern and southern protectorates are merged and the British Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria is formed

1960  –  Nigeria gains independence from Great Britain

1965-1966  –  Charges of voting irregularities and riots followed elections in these years

1966-1970  –  Civil War

1970-1975  –  Gowon Regime

1975-1976  –  Murtala Muhammad Regime (assassinated in February 1976)

1970s  –  oil boom

1976-1979  –  Rule of General Olusegun Obasanjo; he voluntarily gives up power to a civilian government

1979-1983 – Second Republic under President Shehu Shagari

December 1983  –  the military seizes power in a coup led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari

1993  –  Moshood Abiola reportedly wins presidential election yet the military annuls theelection and imprisons him; he dies in prison nearly 4 years later

November 1995  –  Nine government critics, including Nobel Prize winning author Ken Saro-Wiwa, are publicly hanged; other nations denounce this action

June 1998  –  General Abdulsalami Abubakar is sworn in as Nigeria’s president after the unexpected death of General Abacha, who had ruled for the previous five years

Summer 1998  –  Military leaders agree to an election

February/March 1999  –  General Olusegun Obasanjo wins presidential election with a reported 63% of the vote. Former President Jimmy Carter, who observed the elections, states: “There was a wide disparity between the number of voters observed at the polling stations and the final result that has been reported from several states.”

2000  –  Muslim-Christian violence sparked by the introduction of Sharia (Islamic law) in several Northern states – its use in criminal cases may be considered a violation of the constitution.

August 2000  –  President Clinton visits Nigeria

November 2002  –  Muslims riot in response to a newspaper article about a planned beauty pageant to which they object being held on a Muslim holy holiday.



Questions to Consider:

  • How do we categorize Nigeria’s history?
  • What natural resources can be found in Nigeria?
  • What are the challenges to Nigeria’s economy?
  • How are Nigeria’s ethnic groups different?
During Nigeria’s colonial era, authoritarianism was introduced.
Nigeria’s move of their capital city from Lagos to Abuja was an attempt to unify a multi-ethnic state.
The most common leadership transition in Nigeria since 1960 has taken place by democratic election.
One effect of the British introduction of western-style education to Nigeria was to lesson the corruption of tribal chiefs.

An accurate comparison of Mexico and Nigeria’s north/south cleavages is ___________.

Click here to reveal the answer.

Mexico is poorer in the south and Nigeria is poorer in the north.