Brief History of Nigerian Government and Politics

By Livinus Nnebedum

There are about 55 countries in Africa and 200 countries in the world. Nigeria in West Africa is among the countries in the world. Ghana got her independence before Nigeria in 1957. Nigeria got her independence in October 1960.

It was Mr. Harold Macmillan then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (U.K) who announced the date of Independence for Nigerian at No 10 Downing Street, London. The following personalities from Nigeria were there in London during the announcement namely: ZIK, Awolowo, Balewa and Sarduana. They were with Harold Macmillan at No. 10 Downing Street London.

There were Military Regimes in Nigeria from January 1966 to 30th September 1979. From 1st October 1979 to December 31, 1983 it was Civilian Regime. But from 29th May 1999 till date, there is Civilian Regime. Therefore, there were military interventions in Nigerian politics.

At least Nigeria has recorded II Putsch/Coups and Counter-Coups from 15th January 1966 to 21st December 1997. Coups and Counter-Coups and Military interventions in Nigerian Politics cannot bring political stability.

The colonial leaders of Nigeria before independence include:

  1. Lord Fredrick Lugard 1914 to 1919
  2. Sir H. Clifford
  3. Sir Graemer Thompson
  4. Sir Donald Cameroun
  5. Sir Bernard Bourdillion
  6. Sir Arthur Richard
  7. Sir John Macpherson
  8. Sir James Robertson 1955 to 1960.

Nigerian leaders from 1960 to date include:

  1. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa 1st Prime Minister (1st October 1960 to 15th January 1966).
  2. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe – Governor General of Nigeria (1st October 1960 to 15th January 1966).
  3. Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi –
  4. General Yakubu Gowon –
  5. General Murtala Mohammed
  6. General Olusegun Obasanjo
  7. Alhaji Shehu Shagari – 1st Executive and elected President of Nigeria.
  8. General Muhammadu Buhari
  9. General Ibrahim B. Babangida (IBB)
  10. Chief Ernest Shonekan.
  11. General Sani Abacha.
  12. General Abdulsalami Abubakar
  13. Chief Olusegun Matthew Obasanjo (Elected Civilian President)
  14. Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua
  15. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
  16. President Muhammadu Buhari (Elected Civilian President)

In 1898 Nigeria was named Niger Area by Flora Shaw which later was modified as Nigeria in 1945. In 1906, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria was re-located from Calabar to Lokoja. Then it was later relocated from Lokoja to Lagos and finally in December 12, 1991 to Abuja. Lord Luggard is the 1st Governor-General of Nigeria and has his base at Lokoja. Monument is still there at Lokoja close to Niger-Benue Rivers Confluence. This writer Livinus Nnebedum on his trip to Abuja in June 2010 saw Lord Luggard House well preserved as Historical and tourist centre.

Mungo Park discovered the source of River Niger in 1795 while Richard Lander discovered the mouth of River Niger in 1830 where it enters the Atlantic Ocean. The source of River Niger is Fouta Jallon Highlands in Guinea. It rises from Fouta Jallon Highland in Guinea, pass through Mali and joins River Benue in Lokoja.

Nigeria is the giant of Africa. In 1960’s Nigeria was the largest producer of oil palm products in the world. In the year 2019 Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava.

The population of Nigeria was 17 million in 1921. In 1931 it was 21 million and 31 million in 1953. In 1991 official census it was 88.99 million. In 2006 latest official census, it was 140 million. As at 2022 it is estimated that the population of Nigeria is about 200 million while the world population is over 7 billion.

Northern and Southern Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Luggard. The 1st Air Route was established in Nigeria between Lagos and Kano in 1935. In 1859 the 1st Newspaper called Iwe Irohin was established in Nigeria at Abeokuta by Rev. Henry Townsend which was in Yoruba Language.

Daily Times Federal Government Newspapers was established in 1926. Niger Bridge was opened in 1964. There are about 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, some of them include Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, TIV, Edo, Kanuri, Nupe, Urhobo, Ibibio, Ijaw, Igala, Efik, Itshekiri, Oron, Idoma, Annag etc.

Nigeria is surrounded in the North by Niger Republic, in the South by Atlantic Ocean, East by Cameroon and West by Republic of Benin (Diahomey). The longest distance by Air from East to West is 1,300 kilometers (KM) and the distance from North to South is 1,100 KM.

There are 36 states in Nigeria. The largest state in Nigeria by landmass is Niger and the smallest by landmass is Lagos. The most populous state is Kano as at 2006 official census. The number of L.G.A’s in Nigeria is 774 and Landmass of Nigeria is 925,770km2.

Nigeria is a member of many International Organizations to mention but few viz: ECOWAS, A.U. (formerly OAU), etc. Thus Nigeria is recognized in West Africa Regional Politics, Continental African Politics and in world politics internationally. But a lot of home work needs to be done for good reputation. There is need to rebuild the image and characters of Nigerians at abroad and home. Nigeria has achieved political Independence from Colonial Rule that is, from Britain, but are we Economically Independent?

Livinus Nnebedum was a former Director in Anambra State Agricultural Development Program (ADP) & Ministry of Agriculture. Author, Public Affairs Analyst and Visiting Lecturer at Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze in Weekend/CEP Programme