Timeline of Nigerian history

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

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

17th century

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

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

19th century

1803Escape to Igbo Landing in Georgia, USA.
180725 MarchSlave Trade Act 1807: Britain prohibits subjects from trafficking in slaves.[1]
1833End of Oyo empire.[1]
1841Niger Expedition of Christian missionaries.[1]
1846Church Missionary Society sets up mission at Abeokuta.[1]
18511 JanuaryTreaty Between Great Britain and Lagos, 1 January 1852 18616 AugustLagos Treaty of Cession: British annexes Lagos, with status of Crown Colony.[1]
1864Samuel Ajayi Crowther becomes first African Anglican Bishop.[3]
1879George Taubman Goldie amalgamated various British ventures to form the United African Company (later known as the Royal Niger Company).
1880The conquest of Southern Nigeria by the British began.
1885Other European powers acknowledged British sovereignty over Nigeria at the Berlin Conference.
1887King Ja Ja of Opobo exiled to West Indies by British.[1]
1891John Payne Jackson becomes publisher of Lagos Weekly Record.[3]
1892British raid uses maxim guns to defeat Ijebu Kingdom, thereby moving towards complete dominance in the southwest area surrounding Lagos.
1893British incorporate Yoruba lands in southwest into new protectorate.[1]
1894Brassmen revolt against Royal Niger Company.[1]
189529 JanuaryKing Koko leads successful attack on Royal Niger Company headquarters in Akassa.
2 FebruaryConsul-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 FebruaryRoyal Navy counter-attacks against King Koko, razes Nembe.
18974 JanuaryCovert foray of the Niger Coast Protectorate Force against Benin City is discovered and destroyed by the Kingdom of Benin.
9–18 FebruaryRetaliatory Benin Expedition of 1897 leads to capture of Benin City.
1898Beginning of Ekumeku Movement against British rule.[1]
19001 JanuaryAll Nigeria now under Crown rule. Protectorate of Northern Nigeria created from Company holdings.

20th century

1901Anglo-Aro war: The war began. The Aro Confederacy began to decline. (to 1902)
1902Anglo-Aro war: The war ended.
1903JanuaryCapture of Kano
The British conquered most of Northern Nigeria, including the Sokoto Caliphate.
1905The British conquest of Southern Nigeria ended.
19061 MayColonial Office amalgamates Lagos Colony with Southern Nigeria Protectorate.
1908German-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]
1912Lord 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]
1914JanuaryNorthern 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]
1918The Adubi War is fought in Egba Land.
1920National Congress of British West Africa founded in Accra.
1922Clifford Constitution.
1925West African Students' Union.
1928AprilBritish begin direct taxation.
192914 OctoberNew governor implements plans to expand taxation.
November"Women's War": Widespread revolt against taxation.
1931Founding of Nigeria Union of Teachers.[1]
1936Founding of Nigeria Youth Movement.[1]
1937Shell D'Arcy Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (later Shell-BP) granted petroleum exploration rights.[4]
1944National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons founded by Nnamdi "Zik" Azikiwe.[1]
1945Countrywide general strike.[1]
Adoption of first Ten Year Plan for economic development.[1]
1946Nigeria entered a period of decolonization and growing Nigerian nationalism.
1950A conference of northern and southern delegates was held in Ibadan.
1951MacPherson Constitution.
Yoruba-aligned Action Group founded; headed by Obafemi Awolowo.[1]
19531 MayNorthern vs. Southern violence breaks out in the Northern city of Kano.
1956Shell-BP expedition makes first discoveries of major petroleum deposits, at Olobiri and Afam.[4]
1957Nigeria held a Constitutional conference.
1959Nigeria 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]
1960The period of nationalism and decolonization ended.
Tiv uprising.
1 OctoberNigeria gained independence from Britain under Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and President Nnamdi Azikiwe.
1962Tennessee Nigeria receives offshore oil license.
19631 OctoberNigeria severed its remaining ties to Britain, marking the birth of the Nigerian First Republic.
Amoseas and Gulf receive offshore oil licenses.[4]
19641 DecemberNational parliamentary election.
SAFRAP and AGIP receive offshore oil licenses.
Another Tiv uprising heavily suppressed by police.
1965Elections held in Western Region.
AutumnRefinery completed at Port Harcourt; owned 60% by Federal Government, 40% by Shell-BP.[4]
196615 JanuaryA 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 JanuaryThe Federal Military Government was formed, with General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi acting as head of state and Supreme Commander of the Federal Republic.
23 FebruaryIsaac Adaka Boro declared the secession of the "Niger Delta Republic". The secession was crushed by Ojukwu and 159 men were killed.
29 JulyA 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.
1967Killings 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 MayGowon announces further subdivision of Nigeria, into twelve states. These include subdivision of the Eastern Region which will undermine its political power.
30 MayNigerian-Biafran War: General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, declared his province an independent republic called Biafra.
19708 JanuaryOjukwu fled into exile. His deputy Philip Effiong became acting President of Biafra
15 JanuaryEffiong surrendered to Nigerian forces. Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.
1971Nigeria joins Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.[1]
197322 JanuaryA plane crashed in Kano, Nigeria, killing 176 people.
197529 JanuaryGeneral Yakubu Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless coup. General Murtala Mohammed became Head of State.
197613 FebruaryMohammed 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.
1979Shehu Shagari won election to the Executive Presidency of the American-style Second Republic.
1 OctoberShagari was sworn in as President.
1983Shagari won reelection.
31 DecemberShagari'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.
198417 AprilThe 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.
1985AugustBuhari was overthrown in a palace coup. General Ibrahim Babangida became Head of State and President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria.
1990AprilMiddle Belt Christian officers, led by Major Gideon Orkar, attempt to overthrow Babangida in an unsuccessful coup.
1992Two 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.
199312 JuneMoshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a presidential election. Babangida annulled the results.
26 AugustBabangida stepped down due to pressure from the Armed Forces Ruling Council. Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan assumed power as Interim Head of State.
17 NovemberShonekan was forced to resign from office. Defence Minister Sani Abacha became Head of State and established the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria.
199513 MarchThe Abacha administration arrested Obasanjo for allegedly supporting a secret coup plot.
10 NovemberHuman and environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged with eight others.
19988 JuneAbacha 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 JuneObasanjo was released from prison.
199910 FebruaryObasanjo was elected President.
29 MayObasanjo was sworn in, ushering in the Fourth Republic.
19 DecemberObasanjo 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.
200027 JanuarySharia was established in the predominantly Muslim state of Zamfara.
MayReligious riots erupted in Kaduna over the implementation of sharia.
5 JuneThe 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

2002Religious riots erupt over the Miss World pageant due to be hosted in Abuja.
10 OctoberThe International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled against Nigeria in favor of Cameroon over the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula territory.
2003AprilObasanjo won reelection as President.
29 MayObasanjo was sworn in for a second term as President.
2004Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in response to the eruption of ethnoreligious violence in Plateau State.
200616 MayThe National Assembly of Nigeria voted against a Constitutional amendment to remove term limits.
13 JuneObasanjo 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 AugustNigerian troops began to pull out of Bakassi.
March through AugustSeveral buildings collapse in Lagos killing 27 people.
200715 MarchThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the names of twenty-four approved candidates for the presidential elections.
21 AprilUmaru 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

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


  1. 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. G. I. C. Eluwa. "Background to the Emergence of the National Congress of British West Africa", African Studies Review, September 1971.
  4. 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