Timeline of Nigerian history

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This is a timeline of Nigerian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Nigeria and tis predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Nigeria. See also the list of heads of state of Nigeria.

Centuries: 17th · 18th · 19th · 20th · 21st

Early history[edit]

Nok sculpture on display in Paris.
  • 8000 B.C. – Creation of oldest currently known artifacts and stone shelters. Igboland mostly occupied by foragers, including Bantu ancestors.
  • 3000–500 B.C. – Development of agriculture (probably including yam cultivation) and animal husbandry.
  • 500 B.C. – A.D. 200 – Nok culture flourishes in Northern Nigeria.
  • 400–100 B.C. – Ironworking develops around Opi, Nsukka
  • 500 A.D. - End of the Nok culture

Rise of Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, and Muslim civilizations[edit]

17th century[edit]

Political map of West Africa in 1625. Modern Nigeria includes parts of Oyo, Borgu, Nupe, and Benin areas, as well as Igbo states.

18th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1728 Oyo Empire invades Kingdom of Dahomey.
1767 June British slave traders facilitate massacre on the Calabar River.[2]
1800 Sokoto Caliphate established through jihad; goes to war against the Yoruba states.

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1803 Escape to Igbo Landing in Georgia, USA.
1807 25 March Slave Trade Act 1807: Britain prohibits subjects from trafficking in slaves.[1]
1833 End of Oyo empire.[1]
1841 Niger Expedition of Christian missionaries.[1]
1846 Church Missionary Society sets up mission at Abeokuta.[1]
1851 1 January Treaty Between Great Britain and Lagos, 1 January 1852 1861 6 August Lagos Treaty of Cession: British annexes Lagos, with status of Crown Colony.[1]
1864 Samuel Ajayi Crowther becomes first African Anglican Bishop.[3]
1879 George Taubman Goldie amalgamated various British ventures to form the United African Company (later known as the Royal Niger Company).
1880 The conquest of Southern Nigeria by the British began.
1885 Other European powers acknowledged British sovereignty over Nigeria at the Berlin Conference.
1887 King Ja Ja of Opobo exiled to West Indies by British.[1]
1891 John Payne Jackson becomes publisher of Lagos Weekly Record.[3]
1892 British raid uses maxim guns to defeat Ijebu Kingdom, thereby moving towards complete dominance in the southwest area surrounding Lagos.
1893 British incorporate Yoruba lands in southwest into new protectorate.[1]
1894 Brassmen revolt against Royal Niger Company.[1]
1895 29 January King Koko leads successful attack on Royal Niger Company headquarters in Akassa.
2 February Consul-general Claude Maxwell MacDonald receives a letter from King Koko offering to release hostages in exchange for a redress of grievances against the Company. This request is declined.
20 February Royal Navy counter-attacks against King Koko, razes Nembe.
1897 4 January Covert foray of the Niger Coast Protectorate Force against Benin City is discovered and destroyed by the Kingdom of Benin.
9–18 February Retaliatory Benin Expedition of 1897 leads to capture of Benin City.
1898 Beginning of Ekumeku Movement against British rule.[1]
1900 1 January All Nigeria now under Crown rule. Protectorate of Northern Nigeria created from Company holdings.

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1901 Anglo-Aro war: The war began. The Aro Confederacy began to decline. (to 1902)
1902 Anglo-Aro war: The war ended.
1903 January Capture of Kano
The British conquered most of Northern Nigeria, including the Sokoto Caliphate.
1905 The British conquest of Southern Nigeria ended.
1906 1 May Colonial Office amalgamates Lagos Colony with Southern Nigeria Protectorate.
1908 German-owned Nigerian Bitumen Company began searching for petroleum off coast.[4]
Protests against water fees in Lagos, encouraged by nationalistic journalism of Herbert Macaulay.[1]
1912 Lord Frederick Lugard, Governor of Northern Nigeria, established a system of indirect rule. Creation of Southern Nigeria Civil Service Union; later, Nigerian Civil Servants' Union.[1]
1914 January Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated into Nigeria. British Crown gained monopoly rights over mineral extraction.
Nigerian soldiers fight under British command in World War I.[1]
1918 The Adubi War is fought in Egba Land.
1920 National Congress of British West Africa founded in Accra.
1922 Clifford Constitution.
1925 West African Students' Union.
1928 April British begin direct taxation.
1929 14 October New governor implements plans to expand taxation.
November "Women's War": Widespread revolt against taxation.
1931 Founding of Nigeria Union of Teachers.[1]
1936 Founding of Nigeria Youth Movement.[1]
1937 Shell D'Arcy Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (later Shell-BP) granted petroleum exploration rights.[4]
1944 National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons founded by Nnamdi "Zik" Azikiwe.[1]
1945 Countrywide general strike.[1]
Adoption of first Ten Year Plan for economic development.[1]
1946 Nigeria entered a period of decolonization and growing Nigerian nationalism.
1950 A conference of northern and southern delegates was held in Ibadan.
1951 MacPherson Constitution.
Yoruba-aligned Action Group founded; headed by Obafemi Awolowo.[1]
1953 1 May Northern vs. Southern violence breaks out in the Northern city of Kano.
1956 Shell-BP expedition makes first discoveries of major petroleum deposits, at Olobiri and Afam.[4]
1957 Nigeria held a Constitutional conference.
1959 Nigeria holds its first national election to set up an independent government. Northern politicians won a majority of seats in the Parliament.
1959 Petroleum Profits Tax Ordinance establishes 50–50 split of oil revenues between corporation and government. Socony Mobil receives offshore oil license.[4]
1960 The period of nationalism and decolonization ended.
Tiv uprising.
1 October Nigeria gained independence from Britain under Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and President Nnamdi Azikiwe.
1962 Tennessee Nigeria receives offshore oil license.
1963 1 October Nigeria severed its remaining ties to Britain, marking the birth of the Nigerian First Republic.
Amoseas and Gulf receive offshore oil licenses.[4]
1964 1 December National parliamentary election.
SAFRAP and AGIP receive offshore oil licenses.
Another Tiv uprising heavily suppressed by police.
1965 Elections held in Western Region.
Autumn Refinery completed at Port Harcourt; owned 60% by Federal Government, 40% by Shell-BP.[4]
1966 15 January A military coup deposed the government of the First Republic. Balewa, Premier of Northern Nigeria Ahmadu Bello, and Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh, were assassinated.
16 January The Federal Military Government was formed, with General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi acting as head of state and Supreme Commander of the Federal Republic.
23 February Isaac Adaka Boro declared the secession of the "Niger Delta Republic". The secession was crushed by Ojukwu and 159 men were killed.
29 July A counter-coup by military officers of northern extraction deposed the Federal Military Government. Aguiyi-Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi, Military Governor of the Western Region, were assassinated. General Yakubu Gowon became President.
1967 Killings of people of Eastern Nigerian origin claimed the lives of many thousands mostlyChristian Igbo people This was carried out by the Muslim Hausa and Fula people. This triggered a migration of the Igbo back to the East.
27 May Gowon announces further subdivision of Nigeria, into twelve states. These include subdivision of the Eastern Region which will undermine its political power.
30 May Nigerian-Biafran War: General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, declared his province an independent republic called Biafra.
1970 8 January Ojukwu fled into exile. His deputy Philip Effiong became acting President of Biafra
15 January Effiong surrendered to Nigerian forces. Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.
1971 Nigeria joins Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.[1]
1973 22 January A plane crashed in Kano, Nigeria, killing 176 people.
1975 29 January General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless coup. General Murtala Mohammed became Head of State.
1976 13 February Mohammed was assassinated on his way to work. His deputy, Lieutenant-General Olusegun Obasanjo, became Head of State and set a date to end military rule.
1979 Shehu Shagari won election to the Executive Presidency of the American-style Second Republic.
1 October Shagari was sworn in as President.
1983 Shagari won reelection.
31 December Shagari's government was ejected from power in a palace coup, marking the end of the Second Republic. General Muhammadu Buhari became Head of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria.
1984 17 April The Buhari regime promulgated Decree No. 4, the "Public Officer's Protection Against False Accusation" Decree, which made it an offence to ridicule the government by publication of false information.
1985 August Buhari was overthrown in a palace coup. General Ibrahim Babangida became Head of State and President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria.
1990 April Middle Belt Christian officers, led by Major Gideon Orkar, attempt to overthrow Babangida in an unsuccessful coup.
1992 Two political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) ware established by Babangida in an attempt to return to civilian rule.
1993 12 June Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a presidential election. Babangida annulled the results.
26 August Babangida stepped down due to pressure from the Armed Forces Ruling Council. Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan assumed power as Interim Head of State.
17 November Shonekan was forced to resign from office. Defence Minister Sani Abacha became Head of State and established the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria.
1995 13 March The Abacha administration arrested Obasanjo for allegedly supporting a secret coup plot.
10 November Human and environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged with eight others.
1998 8 June Abacha died from a heart attack. Abdusalami Abubakar became Head of State and Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria and lifted the ban on political activity.
15 June Obasanjo was released from prison.
1999 10 February Obasanjo was elected President.
29 May Obasanjo was sworn in, ushering in the Fourth Republic.
19 December Obasanjo ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to raid the town of Odi in the Niger Delta, in response to the murder of twelve policemen by local militia.
2000 27 January Sharia was established in the predominantly Muslim state of Zamfara.
May Religious riots erupted in Kaduna over the implementation of sharia.
5 June The Obasanjo administration established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to tackle human and ecological issues in the Niger Delta region of Southern Nigeria.

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2002 Religious riots erupt over the Miss World pageant due to be hosted in Abuja.
10 October The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled against Nigeria in favor of Cameroon over the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula territory.
2003 April Obasanjo won reelection as President.
29 May Obasanjo was sworn in for a second term as President.
2004 Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in response to the eruption of ethnoreligious violence in Plateau State.
2006 16 May The National Assembly of Nigeria voted against a Constitutional amendment to remove term limits.
13 June Obasanjo met with Cameroonian President Paul Biya and Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan in New York City to resolve a dispute over Bakassi.
1 August Nigerian troops began to pull out of Bakassi.
March through August Several buildings collapse in Lagos killing 27 people.
2007 15 March The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the names of twenty-four approved candidates for the presidential elections.
21 April Umaru Yar'Adua, Governor of Katsina State, was elected President of Nigeria.
2009 23 November President Umaru Yar'Adua travels to Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for a heart condition. This inspires a constitutional crises and calls for him to step down as he was deemed unfit to continue in power.
2010 5 May Umaru Yar'Adua, President of Nigeria pronounced dead after a long illness. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was already the Acting President at that time succeeds him. The Government of Nigeria declares seven days of mourning.
1 October Nigeria celebrates the Golden Jubilee of her independence (50 years). However, the celebrations are hindered by two car bombings close to the Eagles' Square in Abuja, where the elite had gathered to celebrate the golden jubilee.

2011 upward[edit]

2011 in Nigeria
2012 in Nigeria
2013 in Nigeria
2014 in Nigeria
2015 in Nigeria
2016 in Nigeria
2017 in Nigeria
2018 in Nigeria
2019 in Nigeria
2020 in Nigeria
2021 in Nigeria

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Falola & Heaton, A History of Nigeria (2008), "Chronology" (pp. xiii–xviii).
  2. ^ Randy J. Sparks, The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey; Harvard University Press, 2004; ISBN 0-674-01312-3; Chapter 1: "A Very Bloody Transaction: Old Calabar and the Massacre of 1767A.A.B".
  3. ^ a b G. I. C. Eluwa. "Background to the Emergence of the National Congress of British West Africa", African Studies Review, September 1971.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Bruno Pierri, “A New Entry into the World Oil Market: Nigeria and Its Relations with the Atlantic Powers, 1967–1973”, Eunomia. Rivista semestrale di Storia e Politica Internazionali 1.2, 2013.


Further reading[edit]