Historical Timeline

Historical Timeline

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Nigeria became a republic. Nnamdi Azikiwe became President of the country with Sir Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister. In an attempt to starve off ethnic conflict, the Midwest region was created in August 1963 by dividing the Western region (Benin and Delta).

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Shortly after Nigeria gained its independence, the country held its first national elections to establish the country's first independent government. The elections took place in the month of December. The result was a victory for the Northern People's Congress, which won 162 of the 312 seats in the House of Representatives.

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Nigeria became the first Anglophone independent state in Africa to become an associate member of the European Economic Community (EEC).

Nigeria’s Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was assassinated in the country's first military coup.
General Yakubu Gowon was named Head of State.

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General Yakubu Gowon announced on May 5th the division of the 3 Nigerian regions into 12 states: North-Western State, North-Eastern state, Kano State, North-Central State, Benue-Plateau State, Kwara State, Western State, Lagos State, Mid-Western State, and from the Eastern Region, a Rivers State, a South-Eastern State, and an East-Central State. The non-Igbo South-Eastern and Rivers states which had the oil reserves and access to the sea were carved out to isolate the Igbo areas as East-Central state.

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Republic of Biafra, a predominantly Igbo secessionist state in eastern Nigeria, was founded by Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Nigerian Civil War erupts as Nigerian forces invade the secessionist state of Biafra.

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General Odumegwu Ojukwu’s Deputy, Philip Effiong became Acting President of Biafra. Effiong surrendered to Nigerian forces, ending the Nigerian Civil war and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.

Nigeria joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

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The National Youth Service Corps was created to promote national unity and to help reconcile the people after a 31-month civil war. It called for a mandatory year-long assignment for all Nigerians who graduate from university aged 30 years and below.

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General Yakubu Gowon set a date for returning power to civilians but was overthrown by General Murtala Mohammed.

Seven new states were created by General Murtala Mohammed, bringing the total number of states to 19. Abuja (FCT) was carved out of Niger State. North Western State was divided into Sokoto and Niger, while North Eastern State was divided into Borno, Gongola and Bauchi. Benue-Pleateau was separated into Benue and Plateau. Western State was divided into Oyo, Ogun and Ondo. East Central State was divided into Anambra and Imo.

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Seven new states were created by General Murtala Mohammed, bringing the total number of states to 19. Abuja (FCT) was carved out of Niger State. North Western State was divided into Sokoto and Niger, while North Eastern State was divided into Borno, Gongola and Bauchi. Benue-Pleateau was separated into Benue and Plateau. Western State was divided into Oyo, Ogun and Ondo. East Central State was divided into Anambra and Imo.

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General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated in a failed coup attempt and replaced by his deputy, Lt-General Olusegun Obasanjo.

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Festac '77 also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, held in Lagos, Nigeria.

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Shehu Shagari won the election of the American-style Second Republic and was sworn in as President.

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Major General Muhammad Buhari seized power in a bloodless coup.

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War Against Indiscipline; a controlled mass mobilisation corrective response to social maladjustment was launched by the Buhari regime.

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Major General Muhammadu Buhari was overthrown by General Ibrahim Babangida who became Head of State and President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria.

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Prof. Wole Soyinka won the Nobel prize in Literature. This made him the first African to be a Nobel prize winner.

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General Ibrahim Babangida created two more states (Akwa Ibom and Katsina), bringing the number of states in Nigeria to 21.

The city of Abuja, Nigeria, officially replaced Lagos as the capital.

Nine additional states came into existence - Abia, Enugu, Adamawa, Taraba, Edo, Delta, Jigawa, Yobe, Kebbi, Osun and Kogi also came into existence bringing the total number of states to 30.

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Two political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) were established during General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime in an attempt to return to civilian rule.

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Kenneth Nnebue, a Nigerian trader based in Onitsha, shot a film called ‘Living in Bondage’ to help sell a large stock of blank video cassettes that he had purchased from Taiwan. The film sold 750,000 copies and prompted the growth of ‘Nollywood’.

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Babangida stepped down due to pressure from the Armed Forces Ruling Council. Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan assumed power as Interim Head of State.

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The Nigerian Presidential election was held on June 12, 1993 in the Nigerian Third Republic, the first since the 1983 military coup ended the country's Second Republic. The elections were the outcome of a transitional process to civilian rule spearheaded by the military ruler, Babangida (IBB). However, the military annulled elections when preliminary results showed victory of Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

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The Nigerian Presidential election was held on June 12, 1993 in the Nigerian Third Republic, the first since the 1983 military coup ended the country's Second Republic. The elections were the outcome of a transitional process to civilian rule spearheaded by the military ruler, Babangida (IBB). However, the military annulled elections when preliminary results showed victory of Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

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Nigeria made Olympic football history by becoming the first African, non-European and non-South American team to win the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta.

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President Sani Abacha died and General Abdusalami Abubakar became Head of State and Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria.

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Following the Parliamentary and Presidential elections, Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as President. A new constitution was enacted, ushering in the Fourth Republic.

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Global System for Mobile (GSM), was introduced into the Nigerian market. The first GSM service was rolled out in August which spurred what is today called the ‘Telecom Revolution’. Though a late adopter into the GSM market, Nigeria outpaced many countries across the globe in terms of market size and telephone penetration.

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First legislative elections took place since the end of military rule in 1999. The People's Democratic Party (PDP) won a parliamentary majority and Olusegun Obasanjo was elected for a second term.

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Nigeria's first satellite, Nigeria Sat-1, was launched by a Russian rocket.

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National Head Count of persons and houses tagged “Census 2006” took place nationwide.

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Umaru Musa Yar'Adua of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) won the presidential election in the third democratic election.

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United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) rated Nollywood as the second biggest film industry in the world after Indian cinema in terms of output.

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President Umaru Yar'Adua died after a long illness. Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, Acting President at the time Yar'Adua's death, succeeded him.

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Nigeria celebrated the Golden Jubilee of her independence (50 years).

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Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan won the presidential seat in the 4th democratic election.

According to the World Bank, Nigeria became the continent's largest economy thanks to a long overdue "rebasing" of GDP.

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Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election, becoming the first opposition candidate to do so in Nigeria’s history.

In May 2018, Muhammadu Buhari signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill into law, which is a constitutional amendment movement led by young Nigerians. The bill was conceived and pushed by several civil society groups including YIAGA Africa with the objective of reducing the age of running for elective positions.

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The 6th democratic presidential elections were held after a last-minute delay of a week and was won by Muhammadu Buhari for a second term

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