Nigeria has many different tribes, but the Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo are the largest and probably the strongest tribes. There are up to 371 tribes that make up these ethnic groups.
Still, the fact that the country is made up of many tribes may confuse some people, especially when certain tribes start to show their own culture, language, etc.
Even though the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are the largest tribes in the country, there are still other minority tribes that have a reputation and have thus gained some popularity in the country as strong tribes.
To be fair, each tribe in Nigeria is strong, even if they live in different parts of the country, but some are stronger than others. In this article, we will see some of the strongest tribes in Nigeria and highlight what makes them strong.
Similar: Tribes in Nigeria: The Full List
Determinants of The Strongest Tribe in Nigeria
These are some of the metrics used in determining the strongest tribes in Nigeria.
1. Political Strength/Military Might
Some tribes in Nigeria have the most powerful individuals in politics and the military. Tribes like the Hausa and Fulani are known for occupying most top positions in the military and have held the position of Head of State most.
Historically, the Fulani were also known to be warriors who fought and conquered many regions due to their warrior spirit.
Having political strength and military power certainly makes you strong, if not the strongest, in any given region.
2. Financial Dominance
They say money answers all things, and rightly so; money can fetch you many things, including power and influence.
Certain tribes in the country have mastered the science of business and money-making, which has given them a reputation as one of the strongest tribes based on finance and business.
Some of these tribes have even created a system such as an apprenticeship system that has recorded high success rates and is being studied by higher institutions as a workable business process.
3. Academic Dominance
Knowledge, they say, is power, and this is where some tribes have excelled most in. They have the reputation of being widely read and knowledgeable in academics. So they study hard and become doctors of learning.
The only Nobel prize winner in Nigeria, Prof. Wole Soyinka, hails from one of such tribes.
An army has more chances of winning a war than ten soldiers; hence, having a higher population always benefits any group.
Considering this, the strongest tribes in the country all have a higher population than the other tribes that didn’t make the list.
5. Historical Accomplishment and Bravery
Just like it is with military power, having a historical reputation for bravery can get you a spot on the list of strongest tribes in the country. These accomplishments include military conquests, rulership and business, which are sometimes used to tell folklore or Legends.
Strongest Tribes in Nigeria
The Hausa/Fulani are the largest tribe in Nigeria, and they have the most people with a total of 30% of Nigeria’s population. They live in 19 of the 36 states that make up Nigeria’s northern geopolitical zone. Although the Hausa and Fulani are two different tribes, most people regard them as the same because of their many similarities.
However, within these ethnic groups, there are different ways of life. Christianity and other religions are not as common in the states where the Hausas or Fulanis live, so Islam is their main religion.
The Fulanis are one of the most outstanding African warriors and have conquered many regions in the past, giving them a spot on our list.
The Hausas and Fulanis are also thought to be the most powerful tribe in Nigeria because so many of them hold important jobs in the government.
Since 1960, when Nigeria became an independent nation, 90% of the presidents the country has had came from this group. Aside from that, there are a lot of them in the Nigerian military, and they are also proud to have Aliko Dangote, who is the richest person in Africa.
Ironically, despite all the political and economic power they possess, they are the poorest of all large ethnic groups in the country, with the highest death rate.
The ability of the Igbo-speaking people to effectively manage their finances, conduct business, and at the same time, produce outstanding entrepreneurs who drive the Nigerian economy is a testament to their strength.
This tribe is spread over five countries in southeastern Nigeria, where the Igbo language is the most common one. You hardly ever travel anywhere where you can’t run into an Igbo individual who runs one or two businesses globally.
They are regarded as Nigeria’s hardest-working tribe with the biggest concentration of prosperous businesspeople.
In Nigeria, the Yorubas are considered to be a powerful tribe based on their academic and political achievements. They have the most professors per capita and alumni from several of the best colleges in the world.
The Yoruba-speaking nations can be found in Nigeria’s southwestern geopolitical region. The Yorubas’ involvement in politics is another factor contributing to their reputation as one of Nigeria’s strongest tribes.
Additionally, they have a respectable number of powerful, important politicians that are in charge of the nation’s top posts.
Ijaw is a predominantly Niger Delta-based ethnic group in Nigeria, having a sizable population in Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers. Other Nigerian states like Ondo and Edo States also have significant Ijaw populations.
As migrant fishers, many can be found in camps as far east as Gabon and as far west as Sierra Leone. The Ijaw population is estimated to be just over 4 million, or 1.8% of the total population of Nigeria.
Due to their history of international trade, which stretches all the way back to the 15th century, the Ijaw are regarded as one of the strongest tribes. This was made possible by their location along sea-trade routes.
The Ijaw people are regarded as one of the strongest due to the strength of their local militia and their audacious bravery on land and water. They have a reputation for maintaining their ground and defending what they feel they are entitled to.
This was especially significant during Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration’s militant phase, where the local militants waged war on the Federal government for its neglect despite them being one of the major revenue-generating regions in the country.
Asari Dokubo and Ateke Tom are well-known Ijaw individuals that exemplify the courageous nature of the typical Ijaw man.
The Bini people, also called the Edo tribe, are mainly concentrated in Edo State in southern Nigeria, but they are also dispersed throughout the states of Delta, Ondo, and Rivers. They are Benin Empire descendants who speak a variety of dialects of the Edo language.
The word “Ubinu,” which was used to refer to the kingdom’s capital, was the source of the name Benin. However, the Portuguese mispronounced it as “Bini,” and around 1485, when they started doing business with Oba Ewuare, the then-traditional monarch, they changed it to Benin.
Due to their long history of wealth and supremacy, the Bini is one of the strongest ethnic groups in Nigeria. One of the earliest and most advanced historical kingdoms, the bini empire covered much of southwestern Nigeria, including the current Lagos state.
The Bini people also have a reputation for being good at sorcery which makes them feared by many.
Approximately 3.5% of Nigeria’s population is Ibibio. They can be found in Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom state and are primarily found in the south-south of the nation.
They have a rich oral history that has been preserved by being passed down through the centuries.
The tribe, one of the most powerful in the nation, attempted to establish their own independent state within Nigeria before the country’s independence and even engaged in negotiations with the British Crown.
The Ibibio people, who primarily identify as Christians, are renowned for their artistic talent, particularly in the production of beautiful wooden carvings and masks.
The Kanuri ethnic group is thought to account for roughly 4% of Nigeria’s total population. They are found in the Northeast, mainly in present-day Borno state.
The majority of Kanuris are Sunni Muslims and are known to be great businesspeople making them one of the strongest tribes in the country.
The millet industry is the foundation of the Kanuri economy, but in recent years, peanuts (groundnuts) have emerged as a significant new cash crop. The Kanuri cultivate the sandy soil of the nearby countryside while residing in developed communities and towns.
The Kanuris’ are business people with a sophisticated internal commerce system; they exchange dairy goods for goods with the Fulani and Shuwa Arab herders.
Unfortunately, Boko Haram, an extremist organization, has made use of Kanuri territory as a base of operations, subjecting the Kanuri people to Sharia law and terror.
Aside from the tribes listed above, there are a few other smaller ethnic groups that are also important to the country. As an example, think about the Ogoni, Ekoi, and other tribes in the south-south region of Nigeria.
They come from the oil-producing regions, which make up most of Nigeria’s wealth because of the crude oil they make.