The history of Nigeria can be traced to prehistoric settlers living in the area as early as 11,000 BC. Numerous ancient African civilizations settled in the region that is today Nigeria, such as the Benin Empire, the Kingdom of Nri and the Oyo Empire. Islam reached Nigeria through the Hausa States during the 11th century, while Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal. The Songhai Empire also occupied part of the region. Lagos was invaded by British forces in 1851 and formally annexed in 1861.
Nigeria became a British protectorate in 1901. Colonization lasted until 1960, when an independence movement succeeded in gaining Nigeria its independence. Nigeria first became a republic in 1963, but succumbed to military rule three years later after a bloody coup d’état. A separatist movement later formed the Republic of Biafra in 1967, leading to the three-year Nigerian Civil War. Nigeria became a republic once again after a new constitution was written in 1979. However, the republic was short-lived, when the military again seized power four years later. A new republic was planned and established in August 1993, but was dissolved once again by General Sani Abacha three months later. Abacha died in 1998 and a fourth republic was established the following year, which ended three decades of intermittent military rule.
The emergence of democracy in Nigeria in May 1999 ended 16 years of consecutive military rule. Olusegun Obasanjo inherited a country suffering economic stagnation and the deterioration of most democratic institutions. Obasanjo, a former general, was admired for his stand against the Abacha dictatorship, his record of returning the federal government to civilian rule in 1979, and his claim to represent all Nigerians regardless of religion.
In the 2007 general election, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, both of the People’s Democratic Party, were elected president and vice president, respectively. Umaru Yar’Adua died in office from an illness and in February 2010, Goodluck Jonathan began serving as acting president in the absence of Yar’Adua. Jonathan called for new elections and stood for re-election in April 2011, which he won. However, his re-election bid in 2015 was truncated with the emergence of former military ruler General Muhammadu Buhari. General Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the 2015 presidential elections. General Buhari took over the helm of affairs in May 2015 after a peaceful transfer of power from the Jonathan-led administration.
To read and also download our e-book on A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR EXPATS COMING TO LIVE IN NIGERIA, click here.
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