Lagos Island annexed
as a colony of Britain
Mr. H.S Freeman became Governor of Lagos Colony (Jan. 22)
Rivers Protectorate renamed Niger Coast Protectorate with
Calabar as capital.
1890's: British reporter Flora Shaw, who later married
Lord Frederick Lugard, suggests that the country be named "Nigeria"
after the Niger River.
1897: The British overthrew Oba Ovonramwen of
Benin, one of the last independent West African kings.
1900: The Niger Coast Protectorate, merged with the colony
and protectorate of Lagos, was renamed the Protectorate of Southern
Sir Lord Fredrick Lugard
1914: The northern and southern protectorates were
amalgamated to form Nigeria. Colonial officer Frederick Lugard was
1929 (October): Women in the eastern commercial city of
Aba held a rowdy but effective and victorious protest against high
taxes and low prices of Nigerian exports.
1951: The British decided to grant Nigeria internal
self-rule, following an agitation led by the NCNC, Dr Azikiwe’s
1954: The position of Governor was created in the three
regions (North, West and East) on the adoption of federalism.
1958: Nigerian Armed Forces transferred to Federal
control. The Nigerian Navy was born.
1959: The new Nigerian currency, the Pound, was introduced
1959: Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and Niger Delta
Congress (NDC) formed an alliance to contest parliamentary
1960 (October 1): Independence.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
became Nigeria’s first indigenous Governor General.
1960-1966: First Republic of Nigeria under a British
parliamentary system. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was elected Prime
1960: Nigeria's joined with Liberia and Togo in the
"Monrovia Group", seeking some form of a confederation of African
1961 (February 11 and 12): After a plebiscite, the
Northern Cameroon, which before then was administered separately
within Nigeria, voted to join Nigeria. But Southern Cameroon became
part of francophone Cameroon.
1961 (June 1): Northern Cameroon became Sardauna Province
of Nigeria, the thirteenth province of Northern Nigeria as the
country’s map assumed a new shape.
1961 (October 1): Southern Cameroon ceased to be a part of
1962:Following a split in the leadership of the AG that
led to a crisis in the Western Region, a state of emergency was
declared in the region, and the federal government invoked its
emergency powers to administer the region directly. Consequently the
AG was toppled as regional power. Awolowo, its leader, and other AG
leaders, were convicted of treasonable felony. Awolowo's former
deputy and premier of the Western Region formed a new party--the
Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP)--that took over the
government. Meanwhile, the federal coalition government acted on the
agitation of minority non-Yoruba groups for a separate state to be
excised from the Western Region
1963: Nigeria shed the bulk of its political affinity with
the British colonial power to become a Republic. Nnamdi Azikiwe
became the first President. Obafemi Awolowo leader of the Action
Group (AG) became leader of the opposition. The regional premiers
were Ahmadu Bello (Northern Region, NPC), Samuel Akintola (Western
Region, AG), Michael Okpara (Eastern Region, NCNC). Dennis Osadebey
(NCNC) became premier of the Midwestern Region just created out of
the old Western region.
1964: Prime Minister Balewa’s Northern Peoples Congress
(NPC) aligned with a faction of the Action Group (AG) led by Chief
Ladoke Akintola, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), to
form the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) in readiness for the
elections. At the same time, the main Action Group led by Chief
Obafemi Awolowo formed an alliance with the United Middle-Belt
Congress (UMBC) and Alhaji Aminu Kano's Northern Elements
Progressive Union (NEPU) and Borno Youth Movement to form the United
Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA).
1965 (November): Violence erupted in the western region,
and criticism of the political ruling class created unease in the
1966 (January 15): Junior officers of the Nigerian army,
mostly majors overthrew the government in a coup d’etat. The
officers, most of whom were Igbo, assassinated Balewa in Lagos,
Akintola in Ibadan, and Bello in Kaduna, as well as some senior
northern officers. The coup leaders pledged to establish a strong
and efficient government committed to a progressive program and
eventually to new elections. They vowed to stop the post-electoral
violence and stamp out corruption that they said was rife in the
civilian administration. General Johnson T. Aguiyi-Ironsi, the most
senior military officer, and incidentally an easterner (Igbo), who
stepped in to restore order, became the head of state.
1966 (May 29): Massive rioting started in the major towns
of Northern Nigeria and attack the Igbos and other easterners to
avenge the death of many senior northerners in the coup.
1966 (July 29): A group of Northern officers and men
stormed the Western Region’s governor’s residence in Ibadan where
General Aguiyi Ironsi was staying with his host, Lt. Col Adekunle
Fajuyi. Both the head of state and governor are killed.
1966 (August 1): Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon a fairly junior
officer from the north became the new head of state.
1967 (January 4): Nigeria's military leaders travelled to
Aburi in Ghana to find a solution to problems facing the country and
to avert an imminent military clash between the north and the east.
1967 (May 30): Lt Col Ojukwu, governor of the east,
declared his region the Republic of Biafra.
1967 (July 6): First shots were fired heralding a 30-month
war between the Federal government and the rebel Republic of Biafra.
1970 (January 15): The civil war ended and reconstruction
and rehabilitation begin.
1971 (April 2): Nigeria switches with amazing smoothness
from driving on the left hand side (like Britain) to the left, like
all its neighbouring countries.
1973 (May): Gowon establishes the National Youth Service
Corps Scheme and introduces compulsory one-year service for all
university graduates, to promote integration and peace after the
1974: General Gowon said he could not keep his earlier
promise to return power to a democratically elected government in
1976. He announced an indefinite postponement of a programme of
transition to civil rule.
1975 (October): Gowon was overthrown in a coup, on the
anniversary of his ninth year in office. Brigadier (later General)
Murtala Mohammed, the new head of state promised a 1979 restoration
1976: The federal government adhering to the
recommendations of a panel earlier set up to advise it, approves the
creation of a new Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, away from Lagos.
1976 (February 13): Murtala Mohammed was killed in the
traffic on his way to work. But the coup executed by an easy-going
physical education corps Lt colonel, and heralded by a quixotic
announcement on the radio, was botched.
1976 (February 14): General Mohammed is succeeded by
General Olusegun Obasanjo who pledged to pursue his predecessor’s
1976 (September 2): The Universal Primary Education Scheme
(UPE) was introduced, making education free and compulsory in the
1977: Nigeria hosted FESTAC the festival of arts and
culture drawing black talent and civilization from around the world.
1979: Nigeria got a new constitution.
1979 (October 1): General Obasanjo handed over to Alhaji
Shehu Shagari as first elected executive President and the first
politician to govern Nigeria since 1966. Five parties had competed
for the presidency, and Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria
(NPN) was declared the winner. The other parties were: Unity Party
of Nigeria (UPN), National People’s Party (UPN), Great Nigeria
People’s Party (GNPP), People’s Redemption Party (PRP)
1983: The conduct of the general elections was criticised
by opposing parties and the media. Violent erupted in some parts of
1983(September): Shagari was re-elected president of
Nigeria in August-September 1983.
1983(December 31): Following a coup d’etat, the military
returned to power. Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was named head of
1985 (August 27): Following accusations of callousness and
overzealousness, Buhari was overthrown in a palace coup. The army
chief, General Ibrahim Babangida took over power.
1986: The seat of government was officially moved from
Lagos to Abuja
1993 (June 12):
After several postponements by the
military administration, presidential elections were held.
Businessman and newspaper publisher Moshood Abiola of the SDP took
unexpected lead in early returns.
1993 (June 23): Babangida on national television offered
his reasons for annulling the results of the Presidential election.
At least 100 people were killed in riots in the southwest, Abiola's
1993 (August 26): Under severe opposition and pressure,
Babangida resigned as military president and appointed an interim
government headed by Chief Ernest A. Shonekan.
1993 (October): A ragtag group of young people under the
name of Movement for the Advancement of Democracy (MAD) hijacked a
Nigerian airliner to neighbouring Niger in order to protest official
corruption. Nigerian troops stormed liberated the plane at the
N’djamena airport, Republic of Niger.
1993 (November 17): General Sani Abacha, defence minister
in the interim government and most senior officer, seized power from
Shonekan, abolishes the constitution.
1994: Abiola, who had escaped abroad after the annulment,
returned and proclaimed himself president. He was arrested and
charged with treason.
1995 (July): Former head of state, Obasanjo was sentenced
to 25 years in prison by a secret military tribunal for alleged
participation in an attempt (widely believed to have been fictional)
to overthrow the government.
1996 (May): Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria's first president,
1998 (June 8): General Abacha died suddenly and
mysteriously. The official cause of death: heart attack. Nigerians
swarmed the streets rejoicing.
1998 (June 9): Gen. Abdulsalaam Abubakar was named
Nigeria's eighth military ruler. He promised to restore civilian
1998: A month after General Abacha's death the United Nations
General-Secretary Kofi Annan arrived in Nigeria to conclude deals
for the release of Chief Abiola.
1998 (July 7): Abiola died in detention of a heart
disease, a week after Annan’s visit, before he could be released in
a general amnesty for political prisoners. Rioting in Lagos led to
over 60 deaths.
1998 (July 20): Abubakar promised to relinquish power on
May 29, 1999.
1999 (February 15): Former military ruler Obasanjo won the
presidential nomination of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
1999 (May): A new Constitution was adopted. It was based
on the 1979 Constitution.
1999 (May 29): Former Military Head of State, Olusegun
Obasanjo, was sworn in as Nigeria's democratically elected civilian