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The History Of Nigeria (Independence, Coups, Civil war, etc.

What is The History of Nigeria?

Nigeria is a West African country located on the Gulf of Guinea. It is the most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of over 200 million people. The country is rich in cultural and ethnic diversity with over 250 ethnic groups, and it has a complex and intricate history. This essay will provide an overview of Nigeria’s history, from pre-colonial times to the present day.

The History of Nigeria in the Pre-colonial Era

The earliest known inhabitants of what is now Nigeria were the Nok people, who lived in the northern region of the country around 1000 BCE. They were known for their terracotta sculptures and were skilled in ironworking, agriculture, and pottery. The Nok civilization declined around 500 CE, and other groups such as the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo emerged.

Nigerian Major Ethnic Groups (Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo)

The Hausa people were known for their trade and commerce, and they established a number of city-states in the northern region of the country. The Yoruba people, who lived in the southwestern part of the country, were skilled in agriculture and had a well-developed political system. The Igbo people, who lived in the southeastern part of the country, were known for their skilled craftsmanship and were organized into small village communities.

The Introduction of Islam in Nigeria

In the 11th century, Islam was introduced to Nigeria through trade routes from North Africa, and it spread quickly among the Hausa people. The Islamic city-states of Kano, Katsina, and Sokoto emerged in the 14th century, and they played a major role in the trans-Saharan trade routes.

Slave Trade in Nigeria

In the 15th century, the Portuguese arrived on the coast of Nigeria and began trading in slaves, ivory, and other goods. This led to the emergence of the Atlantic slave trade, which lasted for over three centuries and had a devastating impact on the continent.

The History of Nigeria in the Colonial Era

In the late 19th century, European powers began to carve up Africa in what is known as the Scramble for Africa. Britain annexed Lagos in 1861 and gradually extended its control over the rest of the country. The British used a policy of indirect rule, which allowed them to govern the country through local chiefs and rulers. They also established mission schools, which led to the spread of Christianity and Western education.

In 1914, the British merged the northern and southern regions of Nigeria into a single entity, known as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. This was a major turning point in Nigeria’s history, as it brought together diverse ethnic groups and cultures under a single political entity.

The Movement for Nigeria’s Independence

In the 1940s and 1950s, nationalist movements emerged in Nigeria, demanding independence from British colonial rule. These movements were led by figures such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello. In 1954, Nigeria was granted self-government, and in 1960, it gained independence from Britain.

The History of Nigeria in the Post-colonial Era

Nigeria’s independence was marked by a great deal of optimism and hope for the future. The country was seen as a beacon of hope for Africa, and it was expected to take its place as a major player on the global stage. However, Nigeria faced a number of challenges in the post-colonial era, including ethnic tensions, corruption, and economic instability.

Nigeria’s Coups

In 1966, a group of military officers led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu staged a coup and overthrew the civilian government. This was followed by a series of coups and counter-coups, which destabilized the country and led to the loss of many lives.

The Nigerian Civil War

In 1967, the southeastern region of the country, which was predominantly Igbo, declared itself the independent Republic of Biafra. This led to a civil war known as the Nigerian Civil War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. The war resulted in the loss of over a million lives, mostly civilians, and had a devastating impact on the country.

Nigeria’s Civilian Rule

In 1979, Nigeria returned to civilian rule, with Shehu Shagari as the first elected president. However, his government was marred by corruption and economic instability, and he was overthrown in a military coup led by General Muhammadu Buhari in 1983.

Buhari’s regime was short-lived, and he was overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985. Babangida promised to restore democracy and initiated a process of political transition, which culminated in the election of Moshood Abiola as president in 1993. However, the election was annulled by Babangida, leading to widespread protests and political turmoil.

In 1999, Nigeria returned to civilian rule, with Olusegun Obasanjo as the first elected president. Obasanjo’s government was marked by efforts to tackle corruption and economic reform, but it was also criticized for human rights abuses and political repression.

In 2007, Umaru Yar’Adua was elected president, but he was plagued by health problems and was unable to complete his term. He was succeeded by his vice-president, Goodluck Jonathan, who was elected president in 2011. Jonathan’s government was marked by efforts to tackle corruption, promote economic growth, and address security challenges such as the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.

In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was elected president for a second time, on a platform of tackling corruption and insecurity. His government has been marked by efforts to improve the country’s infrastructure, promote economic growth, and tackle corruption, but it has also been criticized for human rights abuses and a lack of progress on key issues such as security and economic reform.

Nigeria’s Major Challenges

In recent years, Nigeria has faced a number of challenges, including security threats such as the Boko Haram insurgency and the conflict between farmers and herders in the central region of the country. The country has also faced economic challenges, including a recession in 2016 and 2017 and a high level of debt.

Conclusion About The History of Nigeria

Nigeria’s history is a complex and intricate one, marked by a rich cultural and ethnic diversity, as well as a legacy of colonialism and conflict. The country has made progress in areas such as democracy, economic development, and social progress, but it still faces a number of challenges, including corruption, insecurity, and economic instability. The future of Nigeria will depend on the ability of its leaders and citizens to work together to overcome these challenges and build a more prosperous and peaceful society for all.


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