Colonialism in Nigeria

The earliest known documentation of Nigeria is that it was the sight of a group of organized states called Hausa. The earliest Nigerians were the Nok people. These Noks were skilled artisans, but they didnít last long. The Noks had disappeared by the second millennium. The Southwest region of Lake Chad, Africa was ruled by the Kanem-Bornu during the 8th century. By the 1300ís, the empire of Kanem-Bornu was a flourishing center of Islamic culture, rivaling Mali in the west. As this African kingdom began to stagnate, the western states fell under the rule of Songhai and the empire fell in result. During the 15th century, Nigeria was a very prosperous country with great cultivation and trading. By the late 16th century, the Kanem-Bornu broke up and the Hausa states regained their independence. In the 19th century, the Fulani then took dominance in the lands of Hausa and the southern part of the country was divided at this time. In the west, Yoruba had their own states; the Edo ruled in Benin in the south-central parts; and the Ibo had control in the east, in and north of the Niger delta.

People such as Mungo Park, Richard Lemon Lander, and John Lander first explored the interior in 1830-31. Realizing the potential of the area, the Portuguese, the British, and others established slave-trading stations in the Niger delta. The British sent consuls to Calabar and Lagos, where traders were established, and they took full possession of Lagos. The British then established protectorates after the conclusion of several treaties with the native chiefs and in 1893, the name Niger Coast Protectorate was established. Then, in 1900, after expansion in the southwest, which brought about the addition of the kingdom of Benin, the name was changed to the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. In the same year, the British proclaimed the protectorate of Northern Nigeria as well.

British didnít have full control over either of the two protectorates at the time of their establishments. However, France, Britain, and Germany had so-called spheres of influence and it was understood that Britain had control of Nigeria. British troops were engaged in conflicts with the people of Nigeria who were still involved in slave trade after it was prohibited by the British in 1807. In 1914, North and South Nigeria merged into the colony and protectorate of Nigeria with Sir Fredrick Lugard as the governor. However, for administrative purposes, the country was divided into the Colony of Lagos, Northern province, and Southern province. Lugard allowed the native chiefs and councils to rule over Nigeria while under the watch of the British government.

During the time of World War II, the people of Nigeria demanded self-government and wrote multiple constitutions, none of which stuck. By succeeding constitutional changes, Nigeria was able to become a federation in 1954 and each region was given the option of claiming self-government. Self-government was first granted to the Eastern and Western regions in 1957 and then to the northern region in 1959. Nigeria was accepted as an independent state on October 1, 1960 by the UN and on October 7th by the Commonwealth of Nations. On February 11-12, 1961, the northern section voted to become part of Nigeria.

At this time, Nigeria was divided into three separate states: the northern region, dominated by Hausa speakers; the Western Region, of the Yoruba; and the predominately Igbo Eastern Region. National conflicts were soon caused because of the national politics. There were constant treats of seceding from the federation by the politicians of each region.

Thirteen years of military rule ended in 1979. A new constitution was written completely free of any British involvement. They modeled their government off of the United States balance-of-powers system. Nigeria is a federation of 19 states and Federal Capital Territory. The people of Nigeria are ruled by a president who is elected for a period of 4 years at a time. Also, a governor who is elected for four years at a time and who holds the executive power in the state rules each state. The current political parties are the Social Democratic Party and the National Republican Convention.

In 1966, the dream of flourishing democracy was diminished when a series of massacres occurred, inter-country arguments came about, and a military coup started the first of a series