Every October Ist, Nigeria clocks a year older. Have you ever asked the question, “How did Nigeria gain independence in 1960?” If you have, now is the time to learn about it. This article narrates the journey of Nigeria’s becoming a country from the pre-colonial era to what it is today.
How Did Nigeria Gain Independence?
The Pre-Colonialism Era
Before the Europeans came and the country we know as Nigeria today emerged, there were people living in the geographical area as early as 1100BC. History has it that these people were settlers who traded across the Middle East and Africa. They are from different kingdoms and empires that comprise what we know now as the ancient African civilizations.
At that time, there were just settlers from the Kingdom of Nri, the Benin Empire, and the Oyo Empire. But around 1385 AD, during the 11th century, the Hausa states joined the settlers in what was then Nigeria. They all did business together, and the slave trade was one of the businesses they were involved in.
The Colonial Era and Amalgamation
The colonial era in Nigeria began in 1886 with Lagos becoming a British colony. This is after the Berlin conference in 1884-1885. However, the presence of Europeans in Nigeria dates back to the 15th century (between January 1, 1401, and December 31, 1500), when European slave traders came into Africa to buy enslaved Africans as part of the Atlantic slave trade.
Then, the first Nigerian port used by European slave traders was Badagry, a coastal harbor. There, the local merchants supplied them with slaves. But European slave traders were not the only ones who found their way to Nigeria. The Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal also brought Christianity to the settlers around that time. However, slave trading lasted until the 19th century.
After claiming Lagos as a British colony in 1886, Britain also made Southern Nigeria a British protectorate in 1900. In 1905, they made Northern Nigeria a British protectorate. Then, they joined the southern protectorate and the Lagos colony together in 1906. On January 1, 1914, northern and southern Nigeria amalgamated to become one country, Nigeria, and made Lord Lugard the governor-general.
With the amalgamation came constant conflict among the different regions of the country, which made British rule difficult. So, they decided to divide the country into the Northern, Eastern, and Western regions in 1951, with each having its own house of assembly.
The British ruled Nigeria until October 1, 1960, when Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom, establishing a parliamentary constitutional monarchy led by Queen Elizabeth II.
However, in 1963, Nigeria ceased to be a Commonwealth Realm and became a Republic because they formed a new constitution adopting the federal system of government and electing a prime minister and a ceremonial head of state.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the prime minister, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the president of the senate (the ceremonial head of state).
Still wondering How did Nigeria gain independence? Keep reading.
Present-day Nigeria is now in its fourth republic following a series of intermittent military rule from 1966 to 1999 when civilian rule was restored by Olusegun Obasanjo’s government on May 29, 1999. Since then, Nigeria’s Democracy Day has been observed annually on May 29.
However, the date was changed by President General Muhammadu Buhari to June 12 to commemorate the June 12th, 1993 election and the events that led up to it. The announcement was made on June 12, 2018, and it took effect the very next year, June 12, 2019.
The current president of Nigeria is General Muhammadu Buhari. He is the 15th president on the list of presidents Nigeria has had as a country. He took over the presidential office following a peaceful transfer from the Jonathan administration.
Winning the 2015 elections, he became the first opposition figure to win a presidential election since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. He was sworn in as President of Nigeria on May 29, 2015. After winning the presidential election in February 2019, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in for a second term as Nigeria’s president on May 29, 2019.