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Nigeria Geography - History

Nigeria Geography - History

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Nigeria is located in Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon. The terrain of Nigeria consists of southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north Climate: Nigeria varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north

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Nigeria is a country in West Africa that is bordered by Niger and the Chad Republic in the north, Cameroon to the east, the Benin Republic in the west, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. It is called the Giant of Africa due to its vast size and huge population.

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Nigeria Facts Nigeria Geography and Map

Where is Nigeria? Nigeria is a large country in western Africa. The capital city of Nigeria is in the centre of the country and called Abuja.

Map of Nigeria

Nigeria borders the Atlantic Ocean and four countries. The four neighbouring countries are:

  • Benin to the west
  • Niger to the north
  • Chad to the north east and
  • Cameroon to the south east.

The longest border of Nigeria is shared with Cameroon.

Nigeria is roughly twice the size of California/USA or is slightly bigger in size than Venezuela. Compared to European countries we can say that the land area of Spain and Germany combined would be slightly smaller than Nigeria.

Nigeria is a 8-hours flight from Dubai or a 6-hours flight from London/UK. 

Plants and Animals

The patterns of tropical vegetation and animal life in Nigeria correspond closely to the zones of rainfall distribution. In the south, year-round rainfall, high humidity, solar radiation, and generally equatorial conditions produce tropical rainforests. In central Nigeria, less rainfall and greater seasonal contrasts produce a combination of woodlands and open grasslands. The combination of hot, dry conditions coupled with a short rainy season produce savanna grasslands in northern Nigeria.

Rapid population growth, inappropriate land-use practices, climatic change, and poor development policy have contributed to environmental degradation. In some parts of the north, soil quality has declined and desert conditions have spread. In the south deforestation has been extensive. Such environmental change has dramatically affected animal populations and local habitats. In the delta region, where most of Nigeria’s petroleum can be found, damage to the environment has been especially severe.


The dense forests of Nigeria include some of the oldest, most complex, and diverse habitats in the world. Human activities—particularly burning, agriculture, and logging—have greatly reduced the area of natural rainforest, however. The low rainfall and strong seasonality in central Nigeria create a luxuriant mix of trees and grasses that vary in size and dominance from north to south. More trees and taller grasses are found in the southern part of the belt. Relatively fewer trees and shorter grasses are distributed at the northern end. The result is a distinctive environment called Guinea savanna. This region is less densely populated than other parts of the country. In the north, the dry climate produces a characteristic grassland ecology called Sudan savanna. Heavily cultivated with such useful tree species as mango and baobab, the northern savanna resembles a farmed parkland. Grasses, stunted shrubs, acacias, and other drought-resistant plants can survive the region’s meager rainfall.


Most countries in Africa have national parks and Nigeria is no exception. It is here at places such as Yankari National Park and Cross River National Park where lions, giraffes, and leopards can be found. These animals, along with camels, hyenas, elephants, and gorillas, were once found throughout the savanna region. In addition to numerous varieties of birds and rodents found throughout the country, crocodiles and fish are found in the southern rivers. There are many kinds of insects, including the anopheles mosquito, which carries malaria, and the tsetse fly, which causes sleeping sickness. Snakes, both poisonous and nonpoisonous, are also abundant.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Western influences, especially in urban centers, have transformed Nigerian eating habits in many ways. City dwellers are familiar with the canned, frozen, and prepackaged foods found in most Western-style supermarkets. Foreign restaurants also are common in larger cities. However, supermarkets and restaurants often are too expensive for the average Nigerian thus only the wealthy can afford to eat like Westerners. Most urban Nigerians seem to combine traditional cuisine with a little of Western-style foods and conveniences. Rural Nigerians tend to stick more with traditional foods and preparation techniques.

Food in Nigeria is traditionally eaten by hand. However, with the growing influence of Western culture, forks and spoons are becoming more common, even in remote villages. Whether people eat with their hand or a utensil, it is considered dirty and rude to eat using the left hand.

While the ingredients in traditional plates vary from region to region, most Nigerian cuisine tends to be based around a few staple foods accompanied by a stew. In the south, crops such as corn, yams, and sweet potatoes form the base of the diet. These vegetables are often pounded into a thick, sticky dough or paste. This is often served with a palm oilbased stew made with chicken, beef, goat, tomatoes, okra, onions, bitter leaves, or whatever meats and vegetables might be on hand. Fruits such as papaya, pineapples, coconuts, oranges, mangoes, and bananas also are very common in the tropical south.

In the north, grains such as millet, sorghum, and corn are boiled into a porridge-like dish that forms the basis of the diet. This is served with an oilbased soup usually flavored with onions, okra, and tomatoes. Sometimes meat is included, though among the Hausa it is often reserved for special occasions. Thanks to the Fulani cattle herders, fresh milk and yogurt are common even though there may not be refrigeration.

Alcohol is very popular in the south but less so in the north, where there is a heavy Islamic influence. Perhaps the most popular form of alcohol is palm wine, a tart alcoholic drink that comes from palm trees. Palm wine is often distilled further to make a strong, ginlike liquor. Nigerian breweries also produce several kinds of beer and liquor.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Food plays a central role in the rituals of virtually all ethnic groups in Nigeria. Special ceremonies would not be complete without participants sharing in a meal. Normally it is considered rude not to invite guests to share in a meal when they visit it is even more so if the visitors were invited to attend a special event such as a marriage or a naming ceremony.

Basic Economy. Until the past few decades, Nigeria had been self-sufficient in producing enough food to feed the population. However, as petroleum production and industry began to boom in Nigeria, much of the national resources were concentrated on the new industries at the expense of agriculture.

Since the 1960s, Nigeria's economy has been based on oil production. As a leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria has played a major role in influencing the price of oil on the world market. The oil-rich economy led to a major economic boom for Nigeria during the 1970s, transforming the poor African country into the thirtieth richest country in the world. However, falling oil prices, severe corruption, political instability, and economic mismanagement since then have left Nigeria no better off today than it was at independence.

Since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria has begun to make strides in economic reform. While hopes are high for a strong economic transformation, high unemployment, high inflation, and more than a third of the population living under the poverty line indicate it will be a long and difficult road.

Oil production has had some long-lasting ethnic consequences as well. While oil is Nigeria's largest industry in terms of output and revenue, oil reserves are found only in the Niger Delta region and along the coast. The government has long taken the oil revenues and dispersed them throughout the country. In this way, states not involved in oil production still get a share of the profits. This has led to claims that the minority ethnic groups living in the delta are being cheated out of revenue that is rightfully theirs because the larger ethnic groups dominate politics. Sometimes this has led to large-scale violence.

More than 50 percent of Nigeria's population works in the agriculture sector. Most farmers engage in subsistence farming, producing only what they eat themselves or sell locally. Very few agricultural products are produced for export.

Land Tenure and Property. While the federal government has the legal right to allocate land as it sees fit, land tenure remains largely a local issue. Most local governments follow traditional land tenure customs in their areas. For example, in Hausa society, title to land is not an absolute right. While communities and officials will honor long-standing hereditary rights to areas of land traditionally claimed by a given family, misused or abandoned land may be reapportioned for better use. Land also can be bought, sold, or rented. In the west, the Yoruban kings historically held all the land in trust, and therefore also had a say in how it was used for the good of the community. This has given local governments in modern times a freer hand in settling land disputes.

Traditionally, only men hold land, but as the wealth structure continues to change and develop in Nigeria, it would not be unheard of for a wealthy woman to purchase land for herself.

Major Industries. Aside from petroleum and petroleum-based products, most of the goods produced in Nigeria are consumed within Nigeria. For example, though the textile industry is very strong, nearly all the cloth produced in Nigeria goes to clothing the large Nigerian population.

Major agricultural products produced in Nigeria include cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, rice, millet, corn, cassava, yams, rubber, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, timber, and fish. Major commercial industries in Nigeria include coal, tin, textiles, footwear, fertilizer, printing, ceramics, and steel.

Trade. Oil and petroleum-based products made up 95 percent of Nigeria's exports in 1998. Cocoa and rubber are also produced for export. Major export partners include the United States, Spain, India, France, and Italy.

Nigeria is a large-scale importer, depending on other countries for things such as machinery, chemicals, transportation equipment, and manufactured goods. The country also must import large quantities of food and livestock. Major import partners include the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

Pre-colonial Nigerian History

When talking about Nigeria and its history, one must take into account how young of a country Nigeria actually is. Nigeria as a whole only dates back to 1914, that’s when the British formed the country by grouping several small northern and southern regions. The region of Nigeria itself has been in existence for a very long time and has been home to many different Africans and their different civilizations. From the 12 th century up until the actual creation of Nigeria in 1914 many different groups have lived and governed in the area, but not all of them lived and obeyed the same kings and rulers.

During the 12 th century in West Africa, there were no specific countries just various empires, kingdoms and states of sorts. In the southern part of current Nigeria and more towards the west is where archeologists believe one of the first complex societies arose in Western Africa. The site of this called Igbo-Ukwu and was actually believed to have been around since 900 CE but wasn’t as developed. As time passed into the 12 th century the area had developed well-organized trade networks with other African ‘states’. In this time trade was one of the more important aspects of life. In the Nigerian area there are a few specific groups, which include the Songhay Empire, the Yoruba Empire and the Kaneem-Borno with a small portion of the Mali Empire mixed in as well. The main ‘Nigerian’ empire was the Yoruba Empire, which is located in modern day Nigeria and is what I’m going to highlight. Within the Yoruba Empire there are three states/kingdoms State of Ife, Kingdom of Benin and the Kingdom of Oyo.

The State of Ife was established roughly around 1100 CE strategically in the southern area of Nigeria. In the southern part of Nigeria, the state borders the forest-filled southern Nigeria and the Northern savannas making it a hot spot for trade. A big place for ivory, gold, pepper, kola cuts and also slaves the State of Ife stayed supreme until the Kingdom of Benin in 1500 CE rose to power. Today there are currently around one million people who considered themselves as ‘Ife’ while speaking the Yoruba language, which comes from the old state.

The Kingdom of Benin despite the name is located in modern day Nigeria. The kingdom spanned over seven hundred years and was home to many different kings. During the 14 th century (1400 CE) a king by the name of Ewuare expanded the kingdom to the west and east, conquering the new territory swiftly. In the 16 th century the king at the time, Esigie, expanded even more but that being the last of expansion. For the Kingdom of Benin and most areas at this time trade was a very important part of life. Traders from northern ‘states’ traded horses and salt in exchange for ivory, pepper and palm products from the coastal areas. In the later time of the kingdoms control towards the 16 th century trading slaves to Europeans became very profitable.

Lastly, the Kingdom of Oyo located in the southwestern part of modern day Nigeria, which started as a prominent city developed into a vast empire. In the 15 th century they surpassed the State of Ife in terms of power but Ife remained a prosperous center for religion. The prime time of the Kingdom of Oyo was during the 17 th and 18 th centuries. This is when the Kingdom of Oyo expanded to the southern Atlantic coast and vanquished the Dahomey Kingdom, which was located in modern day Benin. Similar to the State of Ife the Kingdom of Oyo made sure their kingdom was in a prominent trade route position, making building a vast kingdom very ‘simple’.

Nigeria: History

Little is known of the earliest history of Nigeria. By c.2000 BC most of the country was sparsely inhabited by persons who had a rudimentary knowledge of raising domesticated food plants and of herding animals. From c.800 BC to c.AD 200 the Nok culture (named for the town where archaeological findings first were made) flourished on the Jos Plateau the Nok people made fine terra-cotta sculptures and probably knew how to work tin and iron. The first important centralized state to influence Nigeria was Kanem-Bornu, which probably was founded in the 8th cent. AD, to the north of Lake Chad (outside modern Nigeria). In the 11th cent., by which time its rulers had been converted to Islam, Kanem-Bornu expanded south of Lake Chad into present-day Nigeria, and in the late 15th cent. its capital was moved there.

Beginning in the 11th cent. seven independent Hausa city-states were founded in N Nigeria—Biram, Daura, Gobir, Kano, Katsina, Rano, and Zaria. Kano and Katsina competed for the lucrative trans-Saharan trade with Kanem-Bornu, and for a time had to pay tribute to it. In the early 16th cent. all of Hausaland was briefly held by the Songhai Empire. However, in the late 16th cent., Kanem-Bornu replaced Songhai as the leading power in N Nigeria, and the Hausa states regained their autonomy. In southwest Nigeria two states—Oyo and Benin—had developed by the 14th cent. the rulers of both states traced their origins to Ife, renowned for its naturalistic terra-cotta and brass sculpture. Benin was the leading state in the 15th cent. but began to decline in the 17th cent., and by the 18th cent. Oyo controlled Yorubaland and also Dahomey. The Igbo people in the southeast lived in small village communities.

In the late 15th cent. Portuguese navigators became the first Europeans to visit Nigeria. They soon began to purchase slaves and agricultural produce from coastal middlemen the slaves had been captured further inland by the middlemen. The Portuguese were followed by British, French, and Dutch traders. Among the Igbo and Ibibio a number of city-states were established by individuals who had become wealthy by engaging in the slave trade these included Bonny, Owome, and Okrika.

There were major internal changes in Nigeria in the 19th cent. In 1804, Usuman dan Fodio (1754–1817), a Fulani and a pious Muslim, began a holy war to reform the practice of Islam in the north. He soon conquered the Hausa city-states, but Bornu, led by Muhammad al-Kanemi (also a Muslim reformer) until 1835, maintained its independence. In 1817, Usuman dan Fodio's son, Muhammad Bello (d.1837) established a state centered at Sokoto, which controlled most of N Nigeria until the coming of the British (1900–1906). Under both Usuman dan Fodio and Muhammad Bello, Muslim culture, and also trade, flourished in the Fulani empire. In Bornu, Muhammad al-Kanemi was succeeded by Umar (reigned 1835–80), under whom the empire disintegrated.

In 1807, Great Britain abandoned the slave trade however, other countries continued it until about 1875. Meanwhile, many African middlemen turned to selling palm products, which were Nigeria's chief export by the middle of the century. In 1817 a long series of civil wars began in the Oyo Empire they lasted until 1893 (when Britain intervened), by which time the empire had disintegrated completely.

In order to stop the slave trade there, Britain annexed Lagos in 1861. In 1879, Sir George Goldie gained control of all the British firms trading on the Niger, and in the 1880s he took over two French companies active there and signed treaties with numerous African leaders. Largely because of Goldie's efforts, Great Britain was able to claim S Nigeria at the Conference of Berlin (see Berlin, Conference of) held in 1884–85.

In the following years, the British established their rule in SW Nigeria, partly by signing treaties (as in the Lagos hinterland) and partly by using force (as at Benin in 1897). Jaja, a leading African trader based at Opobo in the Niger delta and strongly opposed to European competition, was captured in 1887 and deported. Goldie's firm, given (1886) a British royal charter, as the Royal Niger Company, to administer the Niger River and N Nigeria, antagonized Europeans and Africans alike by its monopoly of trade on the Niger in addition, it was not sufficiently powerful to gain effective control over N Nigeria, which was also sought by the French.

In 1900 the Royal Niger Company's charter was revoked and British forces under Frederick Lugard began to conquer the north, taking Sokoto in 1903. By 1906, Britain controlled Nigeria, which was divided into the Colony (i.e., Lagos) and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. In 1914 the two regions were amalgamated and the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established.

The administration of Nigeria was based on a system devised by Lugard and called indirect rule under this system, Britain ruled through existing political institutions rather than establishing a wholly new administrative network. In some areas (especially the southeast) new African officials (resembling the traditional rulers in other parts of the country) were set up in most cases they were not accepted by the mass of the people and were able to rule only because British power stood behind them. All important decisions were made by the British governor, and the African rulers, partly by being associated with the colonialists, soon lost most of their traditional authority. Occasionally (as in Aba in 1929) discontent with colonial rule flared into open protest.

Under the British, railroads and roads were built and the production of cash crops, such as palm nuts and kernels, cocoa, cotton, and peanuts, was encouraged. The country became more urbanized as Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Onitsha, and other cities grew in size and importance. From 1922, African representatives from Lagos and Calabar were elected to the legislative council of Southern Nigeria they constituted only a small minority, and Africans otherwise continued to have no role in the higher levels of government. Self-help groups organized on ethnic lines were established in the cities. A small Western-educated elite developed in Lagos and a few other southern cities.

In 1947, Great Britain promulgated a constitution that gave the traditional authorities a greater voice in national affairs. The Western-educated elite was excluded, and, led by Herbert Macaulay and Nnamdi Azikiwe, its members vigorously denounced the constitution. As a result, a new constitution, providing for elected representation on a regional basis, was instituted in 1951.

Three major political parties emerged—the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC from 1960 known as the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens), led by Azikiwe and largely based among the Igbo the Action Group, led by Obafemi Awolowo and with a mostly Yoruba membership and the Northern People's Congress (NPC), led by Ahmadu Bello and based in the north. The constitution proved unworkable by 1952, and a new one, solidifying the division of Nigeria into three regions (Eastern, Western, and Northern) plus the Federal Territory of Lagos, came into force in 1954. In 1956 the Eastern and Western regions became internally self-governing, and the Northern region achieved this status in 1959.

With Nigerian independence scheduled for 1960, elections were held in 1959. No party won a majority, and the NPC combined with the NCNC to form a government. Nigeria attained independence on Oct. 1, 1960, with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the NPC as prime minister and Azikiwe of the NCNC as governor-general when Nigeria became a republic in 1963, Azikiwe was made president.

The first years of independence were characterized by severe conflicts within and between regions. In the Western region, a bloc of the Action Group split off (1962) under S. I. Akintola to form the Nigerian National Democratic party (NNDP) in 1963 the Mid-Western region (whose population was mostly Edo) was formed from a part of the Western region. National elections late in 1964 were hotly contested, with an NPC-NNDP coalition (called the National Alliance) emerging victorious.

In Jan., 1966, Igbo army officers staged a successful coup, which resulted in the deaths of Federal Prime Minister Balewa, Northern Prime Minister Ahmadu Bello, and Western Prime Minister S. I. Akintola. Maj. Gen. Johnson T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, became head of a military government and suspended the national and regional constitutions this met with a violent reaction in the north. In July, 1966, a coup led by Hausa army officers ousted Ironsi (who was killed) and placed Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon at the head of a new military regime. In Sept., 1966, many Igbo living in the north were massacred.

Gowon attempted to start Nigeria along the road to civilian government but met determined resistance from the Igbo, who were becoming increasingly fearful of their position within Nigeria. In May, 1967, the Eastern parliament gave Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka O. Ojukwu, the region's leader, authority to declare the region an independent republic. Gowon proclaimed a state of emergency, and, as a gesture to the Igbos, redivided Nigeria into 12 states (including one, the East-Central state, that comprised most of the Igbo people). However, on May 30, Ojukwu proclaimed the independent Republic of Biafra, and in July fighting broke out between Biafra and Nigeria.

Biafra made some advances early in the war, but soon federal forces gained the initiative. After much suffering, Biafra capitulated on Jan. 15, 1970, and the secession ended. The early 1970s were marked by reconstruction in areas that were formerly part of Biafra, by the gradual reintegration of the Igbo into national life, and by a slow return to civilian rule.

Spurred by the booming petroleum industry, the Nigerian economy quickly recovered from the effects of civil war and made impressive advances. Nonetheless, inflation and high unemployment remained, and the oil boom led to government corruption and uneven distribution of wealth. Nigeria joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1971. The prolonged drought that desiccated the Sahel region of Africa in the early 1970s had a profound effect on N Nigeria, resulting in a migration of peoples into the less arid areas and into the cities of the south.

Gowon's regime was overthrown in 1975 by Gen. Murtala Muhammad and a group of officers who pledged a return to civilian rule. In the mid-1970s plans were approved for a new capital to be built at Abuja, a move that drained the national economy. Muhammad was assassinated in an attempted coup one year after taking office and succeeded by Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. In a crisis brought on by rapidly falling oil revenues, the government restricted public opposition to the regime, controlled union activity and student movements, nationalized land, and increased oil industry regulation. Nigeria sought Western support under Obasanjo while supporting African nationalist movements.

In 1979 elections were held under a new constitution, bringing Alhaji Shehu Shagari to the presidency. Relations with the United States reached a new high in 1979 with a visit by President Jimmy Carter. The government expelled thousands of foreign laborers in 1983, citing social disturbances as the reason. The same year, Shagari was reelected president but overthrown after only a few months in office Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was installed in power. Buhari, strongly opposed to corruption, established a harsh authoritarian regime.

In 1985 a coup led by Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida brought a new regime to power, along with the promise of a return to civilian rule. A new constitution was promulgated in 1990, which set national elections for 1992. Babangida annulled the results of that presidential election, claiming fraud. A new election in 1993 ended in the apparent presidential victory of Moshood Abiola, but Babangida again alleged fraud. Soon unrest led to Babangida's resignation. Ernest Shonekan, a civilian appointed as interim leader, was forced out after three months by Gen. Sani Abacha, a long-time ally of Babangida, who became president and banned all political institutions and labor unions. In 1994, Abiola was arrested and charged with treason.

In 1995, Abacha extended military rule for three more years, while proposing a program for a return to civilian rule after that period his proposal was rejected by opposition leaders, but five political parties were established in 1996. The Abacha regime drew international condemnation in late 1995 when Ken Saro-Wiwa, a prominent writer, and eight other human-rights activists were executed the trial was condemned by human-rights groups and led to Nigeria's suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations. Also in 1995, a number of army officers, including former head of state General Obasanjo, were arrested in connection with an alleged coup attempt. In 1996, Kudirat Abiola, an activist on behalf of her imprisoned husband, was murdered.

Abacha died suddenly in June, 1998, and was succeeded by Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, who immediately freed Obasanjo and other political prisoners. Riots followed the announcement that Abiola had also died unexpectedly in July, 1998, while in detention. Abubakar then announced an election timetable leading to a return to civilian rule within a year. All former political parties were disbanded and new ones formed. A series of local, state, and federal elections were held between Dec., 1998, and Feb., 1999, culminating in the presidential contest, won by General Obasanjo. The elections were generally deemed fair by international monitors. The People's Democratic party (PDP the centrist party of General Obasanjo) dominated the elections the other two leading parties were the Alliance for Democracy (a Yoruba party of the southwest, considered to be progressive), and the All People's party (a conservative party based in the north).

Following Obasanjo's inauguration on May 29, 1999, Nigeria was readmitted to the Commonwealth. The new president said he would combat past and present corruption in the Nigerian government and army and develop the impoverished Niger delta area. Although there was some progress economically, government and political corruption remained a problem. The country also was confronted with renewed ethnic and religious tension. The latter was in part a result of the institution of Islamic law in Nigeria's northern states, and led to violence that has been an ongoing problem since the return of civilian rule. Army lawlessness was a problem as well in some areas. A small success was achieved in Apr., 2002, when Abacha's family agreed to return $1 billion to the government the government had sought an estimated $4 billion in looted Nigerian assets.

In Mar., 2003, the Ijaw, accusing the Itsekiri, government, and oil companies of economic and political collusion against them, began militia attacks against Itsekiri villages and oil facilities in the Niger delta, leading to a halt in the delta's oil production for several weeks and military intervention by the government. The presidential and earlier legislative elections in Apr., 2003, were won by President Obasanjo and his party, but the results were marred by vote rigging and some violence. The opposition protested the results, and unsuccessfully challenged the presidential election in court. The Ijaw-Itsekiri conflict continued into 2004, but a peace deal was reached in mid-June. The Ijaw backed out of the agreement, however, three weeks later. Christian-Muslim tensions also continued to be a problem in 2004, with violent attacks occurring in Kebbi, Kano, and Plateau states.

Obasanjo's government appeared to move more forcefully against government corruption in early 2005. Several government ministers were fired on corruption charges, and the senate speaker resigned after he was accused of taking bribes. A U.S. investigation targeted Nigeria's vice president the same year, and Obasanjo himself agreed to be investigated by the Nigerian financial crimes commission when he was accused of corruption by Orji Uzor Kalu, the governor of Abia and a target of a corruption investigation. Ijaw militants again threatened Niger delta oil operations in Sept., 2005, and several times in subsequent years, resulting in cuts in Nigeria's oil production as large as 25% at times. Beginning in 2006 the Niger delta area saw an increase in kidnappings of foreign oil workers and attacks on oil operations the resulting government focus on protecting oil facilities allowed criminal gangs to expand their influence in populated areas there. In Oct., 2005, the government reached an agreement to pay off much of its foreign debt at a discount, a process that was completed in Apr., 2006.

The end of 2005 and early 2006 saw increased contention over whether to amend the constitution to permit the president and state governors to run for more than two terms. The idea had been rejected in July, 2005, by a national political reform conference, but senators reviewing the conference's proposals indicated they supported an end to term limits. The change was opposed by Vice President Atiku Abubakar, but other PDP leaders who objected were removed from their party posts. A census—a contentious event because of ethnic and religious divisions in Nigeria—was taken in Mar., 2006, but the head count was marred by a lack of resources and a number of violent clashes, and many Nigerians were believed to have been left uncounted. In May the Nigerian legislature ended consideration of a third presidential term when it became clear that there was insufficient support for amending the constitution. Nigeria agreed in June, 2006, to turn over the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon after a two-year transition period the region was finally ceded in Aug., 2008.

In July the vice president denied taking bribes from a U.S. congressman, but in September the president called for the Nigerian senate to remove the vice president from office for fraud, based on an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The senate agreed to investigate the charges, and the PDP suspended the vice president, blocking him from seeking the party's presidential nomination. Abubakar counteraccused Obasanjo of corruption. The EFCC was also investigating most of Nigeria's state governors, but the commission itself was tainted by charges that it was used for political retaliation by Obasanjo and his allies. Several state governors were impeached by legally unsound proceedings, moves that were seen as an attempt by Obasanjo to tighten his control prior to the 2007 presidential election.

When the vice president accepted (Dec., 2006) the presidential nomination of a group of opposition parties, the president accused him of technically resigning and sought to have him removed, an action Abubakar challenged in court the government backed down the following month, and the courts later sided with Abubakar. In Jan., 2007, the results of the 2006 census were released, and they proved as divisive as previous Nigerian censuses. The census showed that the largely Muslim north had more inhabitants than the south, and many southern political leaders vehemently rejected the results.

In February, the EFCC declared Abubakar and more than 130 other candidates for the April elections unfit due to corruption, and the election commission barred those candidates from running. Abubakar fought the move in court, but the ruling was not overturned until days before the presidential election. The state elections were marred by widespread and blatant vote fraud and intimidation, but the election commission certified nearly all the results, handing gubernatorial victories to the PDP in 27 states. In the presidential election, Umaru Yar'Adua, the relatively unknown governor of Katsina state who was hand-picked by Obasanjo to be the PDP candidate, was declared the winner with 70% of the vote, but fraud and intimidation were so blatant that EU observers called the election a charade and the president was forced to admit it was flawed. Nonetheless, Yar'Adua's inauguration (May) marked the first transition of power between two elected civilian presidents in Nigeria's post-colonial history.

Yar'Adua subsequently moved to reorganize and reform the national petroleum company, but those efforts stalled, as did action to fight government corruption. The federal government did not, however, interfere with challenges in the courts to state elections. In Dec., 2008, challenges in the courts to Yar'Adua's election came to an end when the supreme court ruled that opposition lawyers had not provided sufficient evidence to annul the vote.

In Feb., 2009, KBR, a U.S. company, pleaded guilty in U.S. court to giving $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to obtain a contract to build a liquefied natural gas plant. A significant army offensive against Niger delta militants that began in May, 2009, provoked an increased round of attacks against oil facilities, particularly pipelines. At the same time, however, Yar'Adua offered (June) amnesty to militants who lay down their weapons by Oct. 4, and many militants ultimately accepted the amnesty, though some did not. Subsequent slow progress by the government led to increased tensions in 2010. In July, 2009, Boko Haram, an extremist Islamist sect, launched attacks against the government in NE Nigeria after several leaders were arrested the subsequent fighting was especially fierce in Maiduguri, where the group's headquarters was destroyed and some 700 died. The group began a new series of attacks in Sept., 2010, that continued into subsequent years, with the attacks become more significant beginning in mid-2011.

The president traveled to Saudi Arabia in Nov., 2009, to seek medical treatment. As his stay there prolonged into 2010 many prominent Nigerians called for executive powers to be transferred on an interim basis to the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, but the president did not initiate the constitutional process necessary for it to happen. In Feb., 2010, the National Assembly unanimously voted to make Jonathan acting president, but the lack of a formal letter from the president notifiying the Assembly of his absence raised constitutional issues. Jonathan remained acting president after Yar'Adua returned later in the month, and succeeded him as president when Yar'Adua died in May.

Jonathan's subsequent decision to run for a presidential term in his own right threatened to split the PDP, which had alternated fielding northern and southern presidential candidates. In Dec., 2010, however, he won the support of most of the state governors who were members of the PDP, and the following month the PDP nominated him for the presidency. In Sept., 2010, one faction of Niger delta militants announced an end to their cease-fire, and the group subsequently set off car bombs in Abuja during an independence day parade on October 1.

The Apr., 2011, elections were won by Jonathan and the PDP. Jonathan won 57% of the vote, but overwhelmingly majorities in a number of southern states led to charges of vote rigging. The opposition candidates challenged the results, and in some northern states, where support for the opposition was strong, there were riots after the results were announced. International observers, however, generally described the presidential election as the country's freest and fairest in many years. In the National Assembly elections, the PDP won with a reduced majority in both houses, and it also lost control of a number of governorships in the subsequent gubernatorial elections.

By the first half of 2012 the increasingly violent, ongoing insurgency by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram was stoking sectarian tensions and worsening the economic situation in the already economically stagnant N Nigeria the situation had also led to significantly larger government expenditures on security, diverting money from other needs. Attempts since 2012 to establish a regional force to combat Boko Haram stalled due to tensions among, and the divergent aims of, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin, though the was greater progress from 2015. In May, 2013, after increasing Islamist-related violence, Nigeria imposed martial law in three northern states and launched an offensive against Islamist militants, but in many cases the militants fled without confronting the army, and subsquently they launched an increasing number of murderous attacks later in the year and in subsequent years. In April, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls in Borno state as many as 500 children were kidnapped later in the year, also in Borno. Though some later escaped or were freed, many remained captive several years later. The group established control over an increasing area of NE Nigeria during 2014, and in August Boko Haram announced it had established an Islamic state in areas it controlled.

In August, 2013, tensions in the PDP led to a split in the party, and several governors and a number of legislators left to form the New PDP later in the year, most of them joined the All Progressives Congress (APC), an opposition group formed by the merger of several parties earlier in 2013. Jonathan suspended the central bank governor in Feb., 2014, accusing him of misconduct the governor, who was highly regarded, had accused the state oil company of failing to account for at least $10 billion in revenue. Increasing conflicts over land between herders and farmers in central Nigeria became especially deadly in 2014, and violence between the two groups in the region remained a problem in subsequent years an even greater outbreak of violence occurred in 2018.

In early 2015, the African Union authorized a multinational force to counter Boko Haram, with contingents from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. Subsequently Chadian forces, in conjunction with Cameroon and Niger, mounted attacks against Boko Haram in along Nigeria's border and into bordering areas of Nigeria. Nigerian forces also had increased successes again the Islamists, and by Apr., 2015, many areas, including the larger towns, held by Boko Haram had been recaptured. The group, nonetheless, continued to mount deadly attacks through 2017, though they interfered little with Nigeria's federal and state elections in March and April of 2015, and by mid-2016 the territory Boko Haram controlled in Nigeria had been greatly reduced.

In the 2015 elections, Muhammadu Buhari , the APC candidate, defeated Jonathan, and the APC won a majority in both houses of the National Assembly. The APC also scored successes in many state elections as well. There were again charges of vote rigging, particularly in SE Nigeria, but the election was generally seen as fair and was relatively free from violence. Corruption, economic issues, and Boko Haram's insurgency were generally seen as the issues that led to the win by Buhari, who was regarded as incorruptible and better suited, as a former military officer, to deal with Boko Haram.

Niger delta militants mounted a string of attacks in 2016 that reduced petroleum output in the area. There were increasing concerns over the president's health and its affect on the leadership of Nigeria in 2017 Buhari was absent abroad for long stretches for undisclosed medical reasons, leading Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to assume the presidency temporarily for weeks at a time. In Feb., 2018, Boko Haram abducted 110 girls from a school in Yobe state, NE Nigeria, but nearly all were released in March. Late 2018 and early 2019 saw a series of deadly attacks by the group's various factions, and by late 2019 they controlled a number of rural areas in NE Nigeria.

In the 2019 presidential election Buhari faced Atiku Abubakar, who was the PDP and main opposition candidate. Logistical problems led to the postponement of the vote from February to March, and the resulting turnout was a record low 35.6%. Buhari won reelection, benefiting from a larger turnout in N Nigeria than in the south. The APC also won a majority in both houses of the National Assembly. In Aug., 2019, Nigeria closed its land borders to commercial traffic primarily to combat smuggling, especially of rice into Nigeria and gasoline out of the country the closure continued into 2020.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Nigeria Political Geography

Nigeria Culture

Religion in Nigeria

50% Muslim (mainly in the north and west of the country), 40% Christian (mostly in the south) and 10% traditional beliefs.

Social Conventions in Nigeria

Shaking hands with everyone is customary on meeting and departing. In Yorubaland, it is a sign of respect for women to curtsey when introduced and to enquire after relations, even if this is a first meeting. Unless the visitor knows someone well, it is unusual to be invited to a Nigerian's home. Most entertaining, particularly in Lagos, takes place in clubs or restaurants. A small gift of appreciation is always welcome and business souvenirs bearing the company logo are also acceptable. Casual wear is suitable and a lightweight suit and tie are only necessary for businesspeople on formal meetings on most other occasions men will not need to wear a jacket, although a tie might be expected.

Women should dress modestly, and respect local customs regarding dress, particularly in the Muslim north. It is inadvisable for women to wear trousers. There are over 250 tribes in Nigeria, the principal groups being the Hausa in the north, the Ibo (or Igbo) in the southeast and the Yoruba in the southwest. The larger of the minor groups are the Fulani, Idoma, Igala, Igbirra, Kanuri, Tiv and Nupe in the north the Efik, Ekoi, Ibibio and Ijaw in the east and the Edo, Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo in the west. A result of this ethnic variety is the diversity of art, dance forms, language, music, customs and crafts. Nigerians have a very strong sense of ethnic allegiance.


Having gone through the last unit, you will realise that up to 1914, western education system in Nigeria had no definite philosophy. The British Government had not taken any decision regarding the definite shape of education in its colonies. The education ordinances only ridiculously complicated the system without reflecting the conditions and aspirations of the Nigerian people for future development.
In this unit, attempt is made at getting you acquainted with the efforts made at developing a philosophy of education based on the aspirations of Nigerians. Discussion on the educational development that took place in Nigeria from 1919 and beyond will be made with a view to consolidating your knowledge of the trends of educational development in Nigeria over the years. The impacts of these developments will similarly be highlighted so that you learn how to further the course of education in this country.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
1. Discuss the background to the development of educational policies in Nigeria
2. Assess the impacts of these philosophies on the overall educational progress of our nation
3. Identify the problems (if any) militating against the realization of the intent of the educational planners over the years and what could possibly be done to solve these problems.

The reports of the two Phelps- Stoke’s committees that visited West Africa in 1920 and East and Central Africa in 1924, criticized the system of education being given to Africans as being classically book based. They accused the missionaries for following the ideals prevailing in their home countries, which might not work functionally in Africa. The reports further condemned the subjects being taught to Africans as being direct copies of the subject contents from British and America schools with little attempt to use local materials in the teaching of the subjects like history and geography.

The two commissions however recommended that:
1. Education should be developed along the vocational and cultural lives of the people.
2. The needs of African societies to met through education so as to promote development.
3. Educational and Religious responsibilities of Government should be effectively organised and supervised.
These criticisms and recommendations undoubtedly laid the foundation for the evolution of the colonial educational policies in Africa, for it influenced the British Government to asses sits responsibilities on education to its colonies. In 1923 therefore, it decided “to approve the establishment of an advisory committee on native education in tropical areas to advise the Secretary of state for the colonies on matters of native education and to assist him in advancing the progress of education in the British tropical Africa”(Adesina)The committee worked tirelessly and produced a thirteen point memorandum, which provided for the first time, a sound basis for Nigeria’s educational policies. They are as follows:
1. Government should control educational policies and cooperate with educational agencies. Each territory should have an Education Advisory Board on which all educational interests should be represented.
2. Education should be adapted to the mentality, aptitudes, occupations and traditions ofthe various peoples, conserving as far as possible, all sound and healthy elements in the fabric of their social life adapting them where necessary to changed circumstances and progressive ideas, as an agent of natural growth and evolution.
3. Government should be concerned with religious and character training.
4. Education service must be made to attract the best men from Britain, whether for permanent career or for short- service appointment.
5. Grant should be given to aid voluntary schools which satisfy the requirements.
6. African languages, as well as English, should be used in education.
7. African teaching staff must be adequate in number, in qualification, and in character, and should include women.
8. The system of specially trained visiting teachers is commended as a means of improving village schools.
9. A thorough system of inspection and supervision of schools is essential.
10. Technical Industrial training should best be given in a system of apprenticeship in government workshops. Instructions in village craft must be clearly differentiated from the training of the skilled mechanic.
11. Vocational, other than Industrial training should be carried out through a system of learning in government departments.
12. The education of girls and women is of vital importance, though with its own problems. Educated mothers mean educated homes. Health education is important..
Therefore, there must be trained women teachers. Education must provide for adult women as well as schools for girls.
13. A complete education, including infant secondary education of different typestechnical and vocational schools and institutions, some of which may hereafter reach university rank, for such subjects as teacher education, medicine, agriculture and adult education. The education of the whole community should advance pari-passu.
(Adesina)The ordinance of 1926, the colonial development act of 1929 and the 1948 educational ordinance merely re-echoed the provisions of the Phelps-stokes recommendations, which led to the decentralization of education and got the government to be more involved in the control and supervision of education. Curriculum content became more expanded and the training of indigenous teachers pursued more vigorously.
Between 1945 and 1970, Nigeria began to develop its higher education system. The various committees reports set to examine the possibility of developing the sector were studied by the government with a view to implementing the recommendations right away. In line with this therefore, the Government studied the Elliot commission reports, which was established in 1943 to examine the possibility of establishing university colleges in Nigeria, the Gold Coast(Ghana) and Sierra Leone.
The report suggested the establishment of the university college, Ibadan, which came into being in 1947.

In 1959, the government appointed another commission headed by Eric Ashby “to conduct an investigation into the Nigeria’s need in the field of post secondary school certificate and higher education over the next twenty years”. (Fafunwa)
This was the first time in Nigeria’s history that “Nigerians, represented by the minister of education, decided to examine the higher educational structure in terms of the needs of the country”. (Ibid)This afforded the Nigerian educationists to work, for the first time, together with their counterparts from Britain and America to fashion out the best practicable suggestions in the field of education. It was also the first time that a comprehensive review of education in Nigeria was undertaken by experts.
The recommendations of the commission, which paved the way for the development of higher education in Nigeria is as listed below:
1. The Federal Government should give support for the development of new university planned for 1955.
2. A university should be established in the North using the old site of the Nigeria College in Zaria as its base.
3. A university should be established in Lagos with day and evening degree courses in business, commerce and economics.
4. University College Ibadan should move from its conservative position, widen its curriculum and develop into a full university.
5. All Universities in Nigeria should be national in outlook.
6. There should be wider diversity and greater flexibility in university education.
7. All the universities should have B.A (Education) degree courses.
8. Courses in Engineering, Medicine, Law, Commerce, Agriculture, etc, should be offered.
9. The new Nigerian universities should be independent of one another and each should confer its own degrees.10. A National Universities Commission should be set up to have undisputed control over the affairs of the universities particularly, in terms of finance, staff and courses.
Looking at the trends in the development of education since the ‘40s’, you will notice that the development was becoming increasingly systematic. Series of educational plans right from 1942 saw the upsurge in the development of primary, secondary, teacher and university education. These will now be considered separately.

The development of primary education after independence was based on the Ashby recommendations. The Government of the Northern Region felt that the greatest need was to accelerate the expansion of the primary schools. Its aim was to attain the Ashby report target of 25% of children of school age to be in school by 1970. The Government also designed a programme that was to advance the region into Universal Primary Education as soon as possible. At the same time infrastructures were to be laid in terms of post-primary facilities in order to ensure a balanced education development.
The Eastern and Western Regions were already enrolling a high proportion of primary school population through their universal primary education programmes. However, problems were becoming enormous because of poor quality staff and falling standards amidst the high cost of education. The East had to scrap its own UPE and directed its attention to teacher training with a view to achieving high quality work in the schools. In the West, the successful implementation of the UPE since 1955 left them with the time to concentrate on raising the standard of teaching in schools.
The Post Independence development of secondary education centered around the following problem areas:
1. The expansion in primary education created a high demand for secondary education.
2. The Ashby Commission had called for increased number in the secondary school population and a revision of its curriculum.
3. Some commissions appointed to review the educational system found out that the content of secondary school education as well as the methods of instruction in such schools were inappropriate.
4. Other problems identified included the over emphasis on book education in the secondary schools. Pupils despised manual work. Science curriculum was poor. All these contributed to the so-called falling standards in education.
Government saw the root cause of all these problems as the poor quality and quantity of secondary school teachers. The graduate teachers were in very short supply. Government tried to have expatriate teachers to meet this demand. But paying for the passages and allowances of the expatriate teachers meant much on the lean resources of the regional governments. And, worse still, many of these hirelings stayed only for a term of two years or three and refused to renew their contract.However, to meet the increasing number of secondary school students, Government opened many new secondary schools. Generally, the curriculum was English Language, Mathematics, History, Geography, Religious Knowledge, Local Languages, Fine and Applied Arts, General Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. French was introduced gradually to replace Latin and Greek. The grammar school kept its lead and remained the darling of both parents and students. The higher school i.e. sixth form was not so successful except in a few government well established schools with enough graduate teachers and laboratory equipment. This was because the curriculum was tailored to meet the requirement of foreign examinations. Available resources in the schools could not meet these.


After independence the government of the Northern Region established twelve craft centre sand three technical schools all over the region. A technical institute at Kaduna admitted students from all parts of the North. By 1960, the Eastern Region had thirty-three technical and vocational institutions of various kinds. A College of Technology, now the Institute of Management and Technology was established at Enugu. In the Western Region, government established four trade centres and the women’so ccupational centre at Abeokuta. A Technical Institute now the Auchi Polytechnic was established at Auchi. In Lagos, we had the Yaba College of Technology and the Yaba Trade school at Surulere.It is important to observe that a number of the bigger industrial firms like the United African Company (UAC), departments and corporations like the Public Works Department (PWD) or the Ministry of Works, Posts and Telegraph (P&ampT), the Nigerian Railways and the Nigerian Coal Corporation had technical schools in which they trained artisans in their specific industries. Last but not the least are the roadside mechanics who acquire their skills from self-employed artisans while many girls acquire skills in needle work, sewing, catering and domestic science from such roadside artisans as well.


After independence, teacher education had two major problems – low output of teachers and poor quality of the teachers produced. To meet the two problems government granted the provision of additional Grade II Training Colleges and extra streams to the existing ones. To make up for the poor quality, government approved the up-grading of most of the Grade III Training Colleges to Grade II. Then, new Grade II Teachers’ Colleges were to be established. Unfortunately, the Ashby recommendation for the establishment of Teachers’Grade I Colleges was not vigorously pursued. However, the Western Government introduced the Ohio Project, a normal science centre admitting teachers with Grade II teacher’s certificate. Lagos had the Government Teachers’ Training College at Surulere. The Eastern Region established a science centre at Umudike, near Umuahia for the production of Teachers Grade I Certificates.
Soon, the Teachers’ Grade I programme gave way to the Nigerian Certificate in Education(NCE) for the preparation of teachers for the lower forms of secondary schools and for the teacher training colleges. They were three-year – programme institutions. The Advanced Teachers’ Colleges as they were initially called were established in Lagos in 1962, Ibadan 1962 (but in 1964 it became Adeyemi College of Education Ondo), Zaria in 1962 (but moved to Kano in 1964) and Owerri in 1963. In 1968 one was established at Abraka in Bedel State but took the name College of Education.
When the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was established, it took the lead in starting a new teachers programme known as the B.A., B.Sc. and B.Ed in Education. This meant that a student could combine education courses with one or two teaching subjects and offer them throughout the student’s four years to graduate. This replaced the traditional system of taking a degree before coming for a one year diploma in education.


By 1960, the University College Ibadan had established itself as a reputable institution of
higher learning. It was also making a great contribution to the man-power needs of Nigeria.But the need for a larger out-put of University graduates was increasingly felt and commonly expressed. For example, as far back as 1955, there were serious thoughts and attempts to establish another University. Ibadan was criticized for its low annual intake said to be conditioned by its residential nature. Partly because of these criticisms, the Federal Minister for Education, on behalf of the Federal and Regional Governments appointed the Ashby Commission. The commission’s recommendation gave support to the establishment of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife, Ile-Ife and the University of Lagos, Lagos. It was after 1970, that state governments joined in the establishment of Universities while the Federal Government started to establish Universities of Technology and others for Agriculture. Each of these 21 states of the Nigerian Federation nearly has two Universities.

In the area of primary schools, private enterprise did not feature much. This was left solely in the hands of the voluntary agencies and government. Some corporate bodies like the University of Ibadan and other universities at Nsukka, Ife, Lagos and Zaria tried to establish primary schools for the convenience of their staff. In the post secondary sector, local communities and individuals helped the government by establishing and running some secondary schools. Most of these private schools were not grant-aided from public funds and so turned to commercial and vocational subjects which attracted students. This gave rise to numerous private commercial secondary schools which were established after independence.It is true that most of these institutions were poorly equipped but they supplied the secretarial staff which enabled the Nigerian bureaucracy to stand when the colonial staff left in 1960. The period 1931-1959 witnessed a lot of local community participation at spreading science education in Nigeria as individuals, groups and communities set out to establish more secondary schools in the country.Prominent Nigerians who studied abroad like Professor Oyerinde, Professor EyoIta, N.D, Chief Daniel Henshew, Rev. O. Offiong and Alvan Ikoku saw the need for technical/vocational education. They formed a National Education Movement and later opened secondary schools that were somehow technically oriented. The schools emphasized the training in such trades as printing, carpentry, tailoring and bakery (Eke, 1998). Many of such schools were opened in Lagos, Calabar, Ibadan, Aba, Port-Harcourt, Ikot-Ekpeme and Arochukwu. Some of the schools founded by different categories of Nigerians according to Eke (1998)include the following:
Schools Established by the Elite Group1. Entonna High School, established in 1932 by Rev. Patts-Johnson, I.R.2. Aggrey Memorial College, established in 1933 by Alvan Ikoku.
3. Ibadan Boys High School, Ibadan, established in 1938 by Oyesina, O.L.
School Established by Non-Elite Nigerians

1. Christ High School, Lagos, established in 1934.
2. New African College, Onitsha, established in 1938
3. Okpe Grammar School, Sapele, established in 1941
4. New Bethel Collehge, Onitsha, established in 1942.
5. Lisabi Grammar School, Abeokuta, established in 1943.
6. African College, Onitsha, established in 1943
7. AdeolaOdutola College, Ijebu-Ode, established in 1945.
8. Western Boys High School, Benin-City, established in 1947.

Schools Established by Communities

1. Ibibio State College, Ikot-Ekpeme established in 1949 by the Ibibios.
2. Urhobo College, Effurum, established in 1949 by the Urohobos.
3. Egbado College, Ilaro, established in 1950 by the Egbados.
However, the massive growth of private secondary schools made planned expansion very difficult. Communities and villages competed against one another in the establishment of secondary schools. The quality of the schools varied from school to school as revealed by there sults of the West African School Certificate Examinations. These private schools were worst hit in terms of performance because of lack of finance which resulted in poor equipment and personnel. However, there were isolated exceptions such as the International School at Ibadan which was being sponsored by the University of Ibadan. In the case of primary schools, private schools were among the best because they were very few and the parents were prepared to pay high fees for running the schools. The aim of the parents was to ensure that their children secured admission in the few well equipped and staffed Government Colleges in each of the regions.In addition to the contributions of the private enterprise in the formal system, there are hundreds of artisans spread throughout the country who were self-employed and who train apprentices in their respective trade. Many girls acquired skills in needle work, sewing,catering and domestic science in this way. Many road-side mechanics acquired their skills,which are reasonably high in a few cases, from self employed artisans.

The National Curriculum Conference held in Lagos in September 1969 was a major land marking the history of Nigerian education. What was unique about this conference was that, it was not a conference of experts and professionals. Rather, it represented a conference of a cross section of the Nigerian society: trade unions, farmers, religious organizations, university lecturers and administrators, businessmen and women, youth clubs, and ministry officials.The curriculum conference was not concerned with reparing a national curriculum, nor was it expected to recommend specific contents and methodology. It was to review the old and identify new national goals for Nigerian education, bearing in mind the needs of youths and adults in the task of nation building and national reconstruction. The conference identified the following areas as crucial to the attainment of the conference objectives.
1. National philosophy of education
2. Goals of primary education
3. Objectives of secondary education
4. Purpose of tertiary education
5. The role of teacher education
6. Functions of science and technical education
7. The place of women’s education
8. Education for living
9. Control of public education.
The objectives of the 1969 curriculum conference culminated in the articulation of the current national policy on education, which spelt the objectives and the direction that education should follow. Of particular mention was the overhauling of the 7-5-2-3 system of education to the much popularised 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria. The system reduced the number of schooling years from seventeen to sixteen and expanded the scope of studies of each level of education in the country. Not only was the scope of education expanded, there relevance of the system to the overall development of the country was also envisaged in the new document. The document had since been put into practice and its impact is being felt across the country.
1. Describe the significance of the Phelps-Stokes Commission reports to the development of the British educational policies in its colonies.
2. How did the 1925 memorandum affect the educational policies in Nigeria?
3. Examine in detail, the recommendations of the Ashby reports and its significance to the development of higher education in Nigeria.
4. In what ways did the 1969 curriculum conference aided the development of the Nigeria’s educational policies of the ‘70s?


The threats facing the development of education in Nigeria are multifarious in nature.
Educationists over the years have pointed that the current National Policy on education was conceived and hatched at a time when the country’s economy was buoyant. But its real implementation started at a time of tight economic situation. This, according to them, was the major factor hindering the realization of the objectives outlined in the policy document. It is equally true that there was an increase in population and expansion of the facilities at all levels of education in the country. The facilities became over stretched and more are required to make the desired impact. It is equally true that the management and maintenance of these facilities are capital intensive, which the government alone can not bear now. There is the need therefore to mobilize the various segments of the society to complement the efforts of government towards realizing the goals set in the national policy.Many educationists have continued to question the sincerity of government in its determination to forge the country’s education system ahead, viewing from the continued decrease in government budgetary allocation to the sector over the years. Further misgiving son the quality of supervision by the various tiers of government remained unclear and much is needed to convince the public about the seriousness of government in this regard.It is equally disheartening to observe that capital projects in the education sector are not being giving immediate attention. There are no visible plans to expand the already overstretched facilities in all the levels of education well. Instead, much emphasis is now laid on the development of roads, rural electrification, polio eradication and so on. This does not posit that developments in these sectors are worthless. Rather, they should be considered secondary to the development of education, which is primarily concerned with the development of all the faculties of man, his attitudes and skills. Of what significance is life when illiteracy, hunger, disease and general under development are the ugly faces of our lives? Where will Nigeria be tomorrow if its educational system remains enshambles, incoherent, uncoordinated and unfounded today? Another major setback to the realization of the goals of the national policy is the corrupt tendencies of some officials, who will divert or make useless the allocations made to the sector. In the end, the money appropriated for education will not be spent for the purpose it was budgeted. Nigerians must change if the country is to move forward. We must change our country for our own good. It is an irony that education is the vehicle through which the most needed change in our attitudes and value system can achieved.

1. How has the current policy on education in the country turned around our educational system?
2. What major threats would you say are facing the development of education in Nigeria today?
3. How would these problems be overcome in your opinion?
4. In what ways can the value system of Nigerians be changed?
· The Unit has reviewed for you the developmental trends of education in the country since 1919. The British government started showing interest as to which direction education should take with the reports of the Phelps-Stokes committees that visited West, East and Central Africa in 1920 and 1924 respectively. It therefore constituted a committee to work out the direction, which education should take in its colonies in the tropical Africa in 1923. The committee produced a memorandum in 1925, which for the first time provided the sound basis for the country’s educational policies.
· The ordinances of 1926 and beyond re-echoed those recommendations of the Phelps-
Stoke’s reports and led to the decentralization of education and got government to be more involved in the control and supervision of education.

· Between 1947 and 1970, Nigeria developed steady educational policies that culminated into the development of higher education. The Ashby’s commission reports of 1959, for example, set the pace for the development of higher education in Nigeria, the impact of which is still being felt. The 1969 curriculum conference was another significant achievement in the development of education in the country. That was the first time Nigerians of different works of life gathered together to fashion out national education objectives for the country. These objectives provided the basis for further developments that translated into the policy document, called the National Policy on Education. The document was conceived and hatched at a time of economic buoyancy, but unfortunately implemented in a depressed economic. This and other factors, as pointed also in the unit, are responsible for the non realization of the objectives outlined in the policy document.
· In this unit, you have equally been told of some specific developments in education under the captions, primary, secondary, higher, teacher, technical and vocational education as well. These levels of development are opened for your criticism and to serve as a springboard from which you can contribute positively policy formulations, provisions and practices of education in the country.
· Finally, the unit has challenged you with some important questions, sharpen your mind on the expected contributions from, to enhance teaching and learning in our school system.

Carefully examine the trends in the development of education from 1919 to date, pointing out the significant achievements made, the threats confronting the system, and suggest ways of solving them.

Fafunwa, A. (1974) History of Education In Nigeria, George Allen &ampUnwin Ltd., London
Ozigi, A. &ampOcho, L. (1981) Education in Northern Nigeria, George Allen &ampUnwin Ltd.,
Taiwo,C.O (1980) The Nigerian Education System: Past, Present &amp Future, Butler &amp
Tanner Ltd, London.
NTI (1990), Historical Foundation of Education, NTI, Kaduna, Nigeria.

Nigeria Geography - History

Oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under a new reform-minded administration. Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from its overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 80% of budgetary revenues. The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth - Nigeria is Africa's most populous country - and the country, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. Following the signing of an IMF stand-by agreement in August 2000, Nigeria received a debt-restructuring deal from the Paris Club and a $1 billion credit from the IMF, both contingent on economic reforms. Nigeria pulled out of its IMF program in April 2002, after failing to meet spending and exchange rate targets, making it ineligible for additional debt forgiveness from the Paris Club. In the last year the government has begun showing the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry. In 2003, the government began deregulating fuel prices, announced the privatization of the country's four oil refineries, and instituted the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, a domestically designed and run program modeled on the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for fiscal and monetary management. In November 2005, Abuja won Paris Club approval for a debt-relief deal that eliminated $18 billion of debt in exchange for $12 billion in payments - a total package worth $30 billion of Nigeria's total $37 billion external debt. The deal requires Nigeria to be subject to stringent IMF reviews. GDP rose strongly in 2007, based largely on increased oil exports and high global crude prices. Newly-elected President YAR'ADUA has pledged to continue the economic reforms of his predecessor and the proposed budget for 2008 reflects the administrations emphasis on infrastructure improvements. Infrastructure is the main impediment to growth. The government is working toward developing stronger public-private partnerships for electricity and roads.

Watch the video: Nigerias civil war explained - BBC News (May 2022).