As heirs of the old Nok civilization, the Yoruba
people lived in cities surrounded by high walls and equipped
with wide boulevards. Already from the 9th century a
democratic system existed around the city administration
with a mayor and a city council elected by the inhabitants.
Artistically, civilization did wonderful things in
terracotta and bronze sculptures. In it 10-11. century, Ifé,
Oyo, Ilorín and Benin were the most important city states of
a confederation, whose influence extended from Niger to
present-day Togo. ( Benin is not to be confused with the
current state of the same name).
From the outset, the city of Ifé was considered to be the
most important religious center, and it remains so. The oni
from this city is the chief priest of all the Yoruba people.
In contrast, the city of Oyo led by the Alafin (king) played
a central economic role until the 16th century due to the
trade in slaves. The city began to decay as a ban on slave
trade was introduced.
the northern part of the country consisted of the Hausa and
Fulani Emirates, which were culturally quite diverse. The
southern part of the country was inhabited by the ibo people
who were active traders, originating from the same
population group as the Yorubians, but without developing
Alongside the slave trade, palm oil, cotton and peanuts
from the 19th century came to constitute the most important
British import from the South Nigeria protectorate. Nigeria
emerged as a national entity only in 1914 when the British
merged the protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern
Nigeria. The colonization of the area took place in stages
and was completed at the beginning of the century. Most of
the territory had to be conquered by military force.
The immediate reason why the British used armed force to
secure trade was conflicts and wars between the states and
peoples of the area, but also direct opposition to the
British taking over the intermediary in trade. The British
state took over responsibility from The Royal Niger Company
when it became clear that in the late 19th century the
company was unable to maintain effective control. The West
African Frontier Force was established under the leadership
of Lord Lugard to conquer northern Nigeria.
The unification of Nigeria was thus a result of the needs
of the colonial power. No natural conditions formed the
basis of the country's borders. The central British
administration in Lagos was long Nigeria's only government
organization. It was not until after World War II that a
joint political forum for Nigerians - the Central
Legislative Council - was established, which brought
together the British selected partners from the three
administrative areas - Northern, Western and Eastern
The dominant issue of post-war Nigerian politics was the
distribution of power and competence between the peoples and
the regions among themselves, and between them and the
central government. National independence had then become
the common goal of the parties, and a gradual expansion of
the Nigerian political institutions should prepare for the
transition. The parties became both regional interest groups
and advocates for liberation at national level.
Three major parties dominated political life in the
1950s: The National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)
under Nnamdi Azikiwe - the unifying figure of Nigerian
nationalism - became increasingly an East Nigerian party,
with strong ties to the Ibbo people. In the northern part,
Ahmado Bello formed The Northern People's Congress (NPC),
which was dominated by chiefs. The Action Group led by
Obafemi Awolowo in the western region became predominantly a
party for the Yoruba people.
The western and eastern regions gained internal autonomy
in 1956, the northern region in 1959. By independence on
October 1, 1960, the NPC and NCNC formed a coalition
government, with The Action Group in opposition in the
National Assembly. NPC parliamentary leader Sir Abubakar
Tafawa Balewa became prime minister, Awolowo became leader
of the opposition and Azikiwe became general governor and
then president when Nigeria became a republic in 1963.