Nigerian Historical Events: Dates In Nigeria’s History

In this write-up, you are going to be shown timeline of Nigerian history. The information below comprise all the important territorial and legal changes, including political events that occurred since the history of Nigeria began till date.


Early history of Nigeria

Historical events at this period are highlighted below:

  • 8000 BC: This was when the oldest artifacts and stone shelters were created in Nigeria. The igboland, the eastern part of Nigeria, was occupied by the Bantu and a host of other tribes , who were foragers
  • 3000 to 600BC: Agricultural development started in earnest in Nigeria. People went into full scale farming, especially the cultivation of yam. Those occupying Nigeria then were also deeply into animal husbandry.
  • 500BC to AD 200: The northern part of Nigeria was dominated by Nok culture during this period of time.
  • 400 to 100BC. This was when Nigerians went full scale into ironwork development. It received most popularity around Opi. Opi is one of the communities in the eastern part of Nigeria, especially in Enugu State. This community is specifically located at Nsukka region. Iron smelting furnace as far back as 750 BC was found in this place.

Igbo, Yoruba, Edo and Muslim civilization

The rise of these main tribes and groups in Nigeria are highlighted below:

  • 770 AD: This time represents the period for early Ijaw settlement in Nigeria. This makes them one of the last ethnic groups to settle in Nigeria.
  • 800AD: By this time, the Yoruba civilization had already been established. This was composed of only 13 farming villages and they were all centered at Ile-Ife. A megastate was already formed at Igbo-Ukwu too by this time. This was a highly complex social structure and they produce copious artifacts like bronze.
  • 1000 AD: This was when Kingdom of Nri began in Nigeria.
  • 1100 AD: This represents when the Islamic state of Borno got established in the northern part of Nigeria.
  • 120-0 AD: This was when the town of Ile-Ife got recognized as Yoruba metropolis.
  • 1255 AD: This was when Oba Ewedo became the king in Benin Empire
  • 1450 AD: This marked the beginning of European contact on the Atlantic coast. This was also around when slave trade started.
  • 1500 AD: This was when the nominally Muslim Hausa Kingdom got established in the northern part of Nigeria.

17th Century

By 17th century, Oyo kingdom was the largest kingdom in Nigeria. Other established kingdoms were the Benin kingdom, the Sabe Kingdom, Borgu Kingdom, Nupe Kingdom, Zamfara kingdom, Kabi Kingdom, Katsina Kingdom, Igala Kingdom and Igbo kingdom, which is composed by up to 50 independent states.  Present day Nigeria actually includes just a fraction of the old Oyo kingdom, Borgu, Nupe and Benin areas, including Igbo states.

18th century

Important events that happened in the 18th century in Nigeria are highlighted below:

  • 1728 AD: This was when the great Oyo Empire invaded Dahomey, an area now in present day Benin Republic.
  • June, 1767 AD: This was when British slavery led to a great massacre on Calabar River.
  • 1800 AD: This was when the northern Sokoto Caliphate established jihad. This was when they went to war with Yoruba states. It also led to the fall of Ilorin to the Fulanis.

19th century

Key events that took place in the 19th century in the history of Nigeria are highlighted below

  • 1803: This was when Igbos at Georgia USA took control of the ship bringing them into the USA for slavery and refused to submit themselves to their slave masters. This led to a mass suicide of these Igbo people. This particular event is symbolic in African American folklore as well as literary history.
  • 25th of March, 1807: This was when the Slave Trade Act 1807 was enacted. The British placed prohibition on all subjects belonging under British rule to put an end to slave trafficking
  • 1833: This year marked the end of the Oyo Empire.
  • 1841: The year marked the time Niger Expedition of Christian Missionaries took place.
  • 1846: This was the year the Church Missionary Society (CMS) set up their Christian mission in Abeokuta. This marked one of the first missions of the CMS in Nigeria and the influence of Christianity in Nigeria.
  • 1st of January 1852: This was the year that a treaty was signed between Lagos and Great Britain
  • 6th of August, 1861: This marked the year Lagos Treaty of Cession took place. This as the year the British turned Lagos to its annex and the city was named Crown Colony.
  • 1864: This was the year Samuel Ajayi Crowther became the very first Anglican Bishop of African origin.
  • 1879: It is the year George Taubman Goldie decided to amalgamate various ventures of the British to form what is called United African Company. At a later date, the name was changed to Royal Niger Company.
  • 1880: This year marks the beginning of British conquest of southern party of Nigeria
  • 1885: The Berlin Conference took place this year and at this conference, other European countries acknowledged that Nigeria was owned by the British government.
  • 1887: King jaja of Opobo got exiled by the British to West Indies this year.
  • 1891: This year, John Payne Jackson started publishing a newspaper called Lagos Weekly Record
  • 1892: Ijebu Kingdom was defeated this year by the British army. They made use of maxim guns in the battle.  This led to the almost complete dominance of the southwestern part of Nigeria and the areas that surround Lagos. The maxim gun was the very first type of gun that operated using recoil technology
  • 1893:The British incorporated all parts of Yorubaland into a new protectorate.
  • 1894: Men of brass went on a revolt against the Royal Niger Company owned by the British government
  • 29th of January 1895: The Royal Niger Company was attacked by a group of men led by King Koko. The attack took place at the Royal Niger Como any located in Akassa. This same year, on the 2nd of February, Claude Maxwell MacDonald, the Consul-General received letter from King Koko. In the letter, King Koko offered to release hostages in exchange for redress of all grievances the people had against the Company. The British however declined the request. On 20th of February, the Royal Navy however staged a counter attack against King koko and they razed Nembe.
  • 1900: All parts of Nigeria was under British rule. This was the year Protectorate of Northern Nigeria was created.
  • 1914: This was the year both northern and southern protectorates got amalgamated by the British to form Nigeria.
  • 1931: Nigerian Union of Teachers was formed this year
  • 1936: Nigeria Youth Movement was found this year
  • 1944: National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons, a politically party, was founded by Nnamdi Azikiwe.
  • 1945: A general strike took place all over Nigeria
  • 1946: Period of decolonization began in Nigeria.
  • 1950: Conference of southern and northern delegates was held in Ibadan
  • 1951: Formation of MacPherson Constitution occurred in this year. Also, Chief Obafemi Awolowo founded the Action Group, a political party, this year.
  • 1953: Violence broke out between the north and the south in the city of Kano.
  • 1956: Major crude oil deposit was discovered at Afam and Olobiri by Shell Petroleum company
  • 1959: First national election was held in Nigeria and majority seats were won in the parliament by northern politicians.
  • 1960: Nigeria became an independent country.
  • 1963: Nigeria severed all ties to Britain and became a republic.
  • 1965: Election was held in western region of Nigeria.
  • 1966: First military coup occurred on 15th January and brought Aguiyi Ironsi to power. A counter-coup took place on 29th of July of same year and brought Yakubu Gowon to power.
  • 1967: Genocide against the Igbo Christians occurred and carried out by Hausa/Fulani people in the north. On 30th of May, he Nigeria-Biafra civil war began.
  • 1970: The civil war ended.
  • 1971: Nigeria became a member of OPEC
  • 1975: General Murtala Mohammed overthrew General Yakubu Gowon
  • 13th of February, 1976: Assassination of Murtala Mohammed.
  • 1976: It marked beginning of Second Republic and adoption of American style of government.
  • 1983: Shagari won presidential reelection. On 31st of December, Shagari got ejected from office via a coup and Muhammadu Buhari became the president.
  • August 1985: Buhari was overthrown and Badamasi Babangida became military Head of State.
  • 1990 April: Gideon Orkar unsuccessful coup took place
  • 12 June, 1993: MKO Abiola won the presidential election, but Babangida annulled the election.
  • 1993: The Abacha administration began after ousting Shonekan
  • 1998: Abacha died of heart attack
  • 1999: Obasanjo was elected as President, marking the start of the 4th

21st century

  • 2003: Obasanjo won election for second term as president
  • 2007: On the 15th of March, 24 candidates were approved by INEC to contest for presidential election. On 21st of April, Umaru Yar’Adua was elected president under the umbrella of PDP.
  • 5th of May, 2009: Musa Yar’Adua was declared dead.
  • October 1st, 2010: Nigeria became 50 years old.
  • 2011: Goodluck Jonathan was elected president
  • 2015: Muhammadu Buhari became president under the umbrella of APC.

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