Chronography of Nigeria

Page last modified 26 January 2023


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9 November 2014, Islamic terrorists dressed in school uniforms set off suicide bombs at a school assembly.

14 April 2014, Islamic terrorists set off a bomb in Abuja, Nigeria, killing 70. Meanwhile Boko Haramabducted 200 girls from a boarding school in Chibok, northern Nigeria.

23 November 2003, Miss World contestants had to leave Nigeria after 215 people were killed in riots by people offended by the competition.

27 January 2002, Several explosions at a military dump in Lagos, Nigeria caused the deaths of over 1,000 people.

2001, Bauchi became the10th State to declare Sharia Law; divisions between the Muslim North and the Christian South were deepening.

2000, Ethnic violence in Nigeria was growing.

2/1999, Free Presidential elections took place in Nigeria, possible due to the death by a stroke of Abacha. They were won by a retired General, Olusegun Obasanjo.


Abacha administration

8 June 1998, Nigerian dictator General Abacha died suddenly.

1998, Under foreign pressure, Abacha agreed to �elections�. He authorised five �opposition� parties, and funded them once they expressed support for his Presidency. Real political opponemts were imprisoned, some 7,000 in number, of whom some were shot by firing squads.

18 October 1998, 700 people died in a fire in southern Nigeria as they scavenged oil leaking from a pipeline.

10 November 1995, The Nigerian military government hanged the dissident Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists. They had been protesting against the exploitation of the Ogoni people and their lands by large oil companies. In particular, an oil leak from an old pipeline in August 1995 had polluted Ogoni lands. Oil and gas had been discovered in the Niger delta in 1957 and commercial exploitation began a year later. In 1995 oil accounted for 80% of Nigerian government earnings and 90% of foreign exchange earnings.

1993, Sani Abacha seized power in an army coup. He proceeded to crush all dissent.


9 May 1987, Abufemi Awolowo, Nigerian politician, died.

1986, The new Nigerian capital of Abuja was completed.

27 August 1985, President Buhari of Nigeria was overthrown in a coup, and replaced by Major General Babangida.

1 January 1984, In Nigeria, a 19-member Supreme Military Council assumed power.

1983, Military coup; Major General Mohammed Buhari headed the Supreme Military Council.

30 January 1983, Nigeria expelled 2 million foreigners from its territory. The country�s oil boom of the 1970s had diverted much infrastructure into the oil sector, with much migration into the cities. Basic infrastructure collapsed and debt and poverty were major problems. Nigerian President Shehu Shagari made foreigners the scapegoats for Nigeria�s problems.

1979, Nigerian elections won by Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Returen to civilian government.

31 July 1979, Nigeria seized British oil installations, in a bid to persuade Mrs Thatcher to take a harder line on Apartheid.

1978, Nigeria legalised political Parties, on condition that they represented national, not tribal, interests.

13 February 1976, Nigerian President General Mohammed was assassinated.

29 July 1975, A military coup in Nigeria.


Biafra attempted secession

12 January 1970. Nigeria�s civil war ended when the Biafran Army surrendered. The expected massacre of Biafrans by Nigerian soldiers never occurred; Gowon pursued a policy or reconciliation, with the line that Biafra had been �led astray� by Ojukwu.

10 January 1970, At the last meeting of the Biafran Cabinet, General Ojukwu handed command to his Chief of Staff, General Effiong, and fled to Cote D�Ivoire. Morale in the Biafran Army finally cracked, with soldiers discarding their uniforms and mingling with refugees.

30 June 1969, The Nigerian Government seized control of all relief for Biafra. Two weeks later Nigeria decided to allow medical aid into Biafra but still banned food aid from entering.

27 March 1969, Harold Wilson arrived in Nigeria for talks with General Gowon.

2 July 1968, Britain offered famine relief to both Nigeria and Biafra. Biafra refused it whilst the UK was still supplying arms to Nigeria.

31 May 1968, Nigerian � Biafran peace talks in Kampala, Uganda, broke down.

19 May 1968. Nigerian forces captured Port Harcourt in the civil war against the breakaway region of Biafra.

4 October 1967,Enugu, the Biafran capital, was taken by Nigerian forces.

7 July 1967. Nigerian troops invaded the breakaway region of Biafra, see 30 May 1967. The Biafrans had, initially, the main oil reserves and the refinery at Port Harcourt, so were able to secure help and weapons from abroad. However they faced an overwhelmingly larger Federal Nigerian Army. The ruler of Nigeria, Gowon, faced the threat of regional secession and was determined to maintain the unity of his country.

30 May 1967. Biafra, 44,000 square miles, seceded from Nigeria under the military commander of the Eastern Ibo region, Odumegwu Ojukwu, starting a civil war. See 7 July 1967, 19 May 1968, and 12 January 1970.Nigeria at independence in 1960 had a population of around 50 million, consisting mainly of Muslim Hausa and Fulani in the north, Catholic Ibos in the east, and Muslim Yorubas in the west. There was considerable enmity between the Ibos and the Muslims.The Ibos had been priveliged over the northern Muslims under British rule, and enjoyed a higher standard of education.

In January 1966 a coup by Major-General Johnson Ironsi, an Ibo, replaced the civilian post-independence government, This coup provoked a massacre of Ibos in the northern Muslim regions. At end July 1966 a second coup, by northern Army officers, deposed Ironsi, who was then tortured and murdered. General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian from a minority tribe, now came to power. He tried to reassure the Ibos but hundreds of thousands of them fled to the eastern Ibo region for safety. Gowon planned to institute a 12-region federal structure for Nigeria, but the military Governor of the eastern region, Colonel Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, refused to accept this. Ojukwu was a wealthy Ibo, Oxford-educated, who declared the oil-rich Eastern Region independent on 30 May 1967 as Biafra, hoping for support from the oil multinationals. However Nigerian troops overran Biafra, over an extended time period, making Biafra a byword for mass starvation.

Biafran-controlled territory shrank, by September 1968, to a landlocked enclave 100km by 50 km. Ojukwu hired a Swiss public relations firm, Markpress, to plead his cause to the world. Markpress played the religious factor, painting (to the West) Ojukwu as a Christian under Muslim threat; Gowon countered that many on the Nigerian side, including Gowon himself, were also Christian. From August 1968 aid agencies began sending food aid to the starving Biafrans. France backed the Biafran side and sent military aid via Gabon and Cote D�Ivoire. Britain and Russia both backed the Nigerian side. Mercenaries under Colonel Rolf Steiner arrived to bolster the Biafran forces; this held back the Nogerian forces, however only prolonging the suffering of the Biafran people. Nigeria, unable to overcome Steiner�s men, settled upon bombing raids and blockade. Gowon blocked food aid, arguing it was being used as a cover for arms shipments.


29 July 1966, General Yakubu Gowon succeeded General Ironsi as ruler of Nigeria, after an army mutiny.

21 January 1966, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi proclaimed himself the President of Nigeria.

1 October 1963. Nigeria became a republic within the Commonwealth.

1 June 1961. Northern Cameroon joined the Federation of Nigeria.

1 October 1960. Nigeria became independent from Britain.

27 October 1959, The Queen�s Speech promised independence for Nigeria.

1914, The Protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria were joined to form Nigeria.

11 March 1913, Britain and Germany agreed on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

1906, Lagos was incorporated into the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.

1904, Nmandi Azikiwe, member of the Ibo community, the first President of independent Nigeria, was born at Zungeri in northern Nigeria. He was principal director of the African Continental Bank, becoming Governor General of independent Nigeria in 1960, and President when Nigeria became a Republic in 1963. He was overthrown by an army coup in 1966; the army officers were also mostly Ibo, and dod not harm Azikiwe but forced him into private retirement.

16 November 1904, Nnamdi Azikiwe, 1st President of Nigeria (1963-66), was born in Zungeru, (died 1996)

15 March 1903. The British completed the conquest of northern Nigeria.

3 February 1903, The British captured Kano from Nigerian rebels.

1 January 1900. Nigeria became a British protectorate. Previously the area had been under control of the Royal Niger Company, which was compensated by a payment of �865,000. Frederick Legard became HighCommissioner of the territory.

2/1897, The British deposed Oba Ovonramwen, ruler of the Kingdom of Benin (now part of Edo State, southern Nigeria, a different location to Benin State, formerly the French colony of Dahomey). This was in retaliation for the masscare of Captain James Phillips and his men in late 1896, who, against advice, had sought an audience with Oba dutring a sacred religious festival. The British also had a commercial aim, to gain control of Benin�s resources, such as palm oil. Many artworks were also looted from Benin at this time and taken to museums and private collections in Europe, including the famous Benin Bronzes.

1890, Britain concluded an agreement with France over the northern frontier of Nigeria with Niger. However this did not stop attempted French incursion into British-controlled Nigeria from Dahomey (Benin).

7/1890, Britain concluded the Heligoland Agreement with Germany. Previously, through the 1880s, Prince Bismarck of Germany had made considerable efforts to secure German control (through the German Colonial Society) of a wide area from Cameroon and Lake Chad westwards into areas valuable to the British Royal Niger Company. However when Bismarck lost power in 3/1890, Lord Salisbury of Britain was able to secure German consent to British control of these areas, and the Nigeria-Cameroon frontier was fixed. Britain arranged to concede to Germany a strip of territory running north from Adamawa to Lake Chad, to which Germany had no strong claim, in order to create a buffer between British-controlled Nigerian territory and French expsnsion westwards from Chad.

7/1886, The Royal Niger Company (formerly the National African Company) were given official responsibility for the British area of influence along the Niger and Benue Rivers. British armed forces coerced local rulers into accepting British rule.

1885, French interests and trading stations/forts on the lower Niger had been bought out by the British, consolidating their control over the region.

1879, Under Sir George Goldie, all British commercial interests in the middle and lower Niger Valler were combined under the United African Company.

1861, Britain annexed Lagos, and the creation of a British colony of Nigeria began.

20 May 1846, Sir George Goldie, who played a major role in the creation of the British colony of Nigeria, was born. See 1879.

1700s, The slave trade from Nigeria was resulting in the export of 15,000 slaves a year from the Bight of Benin, also a further 15,000 annually from the Bight of Biafra. The British were the main slave traders here.

1500s, The Songhai Empire ruled what is now northern Nigeria, until conquered by Morocco in 1591.

1400s, The Oyo and Benin States flourished in what is now southern Nigeria. Ife State was situated in the west, with Igbo villages in the south-east. European contact began at this time with visits by the Portuguese.

999, Baguda became King of Kanem (now in Nigeria). The Kanem State grew rich on trans-Saharan caravan trade

950, The Igbo-Ukwu culture began flourishing in eastern Nigeria.

800 BCE, The Nok culture developed in Nigeria.


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