Omololu Ogunmade refreshes memory with some of the key dates in history since October 1, 1960 when Nigeria became an independent country
October 1, 1960
After about 100 years of British imperialism, the country obtained independence from the colonialists. Consequently, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) formed a coalition government that took over from Great Britain. Under this arrangement, the late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the NPC became the first prime minister of the newly independent Nigeria, while the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the NCNC became the nation’s governor-general. Consequently, Nigeria adopted the parliamentary system of government as practised by its colonial masters.
October 12, 1960
Less than two weeks after Nigeria obtained independence, a defunct newspaper, THE PARROT, published a shocking comment by the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, where he was quoted to have said: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to have control over their future.”
May 21, 1962
On this day, the Governor of Western Region, the late Sir Adesoji Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife, removed Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, the then Premier of Western Region following unhealthy rivalry between supporters of Akintola and his predecessor, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, which heated the polity. In his place, Aderemi appointed Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro, a leader in the Action Group (AG) as the new premier. But Akintola challenged his removal in a law court.
May 29, 1962
Balewa declared a state of emergency in Western Region following a breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of the removal of Akintola. Earlier, the council of ministers at the federal level had met in Lagos to discuss the situation. This was followed by a broadcast to the nation by the prime minister, where he stated that no responsible government could fold its hands and watch the scenario in the region deteriorate without prompt intervention.
October 1, 1963
Nigeria became a republic and ceased to take orders from the Queen of England. Under the new arrangement, Azikiwe became the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while Balewa retained his seat as Prime Minister.
July 13, 1963
A plebiscite was conducted following the March 29, 1963 responsibility given to the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs to organise a referendum to decide whether a new region should be carved out of the old Western Region to be called the Mid-West Region. The plebiscite, which had been described as the only constitutional exercise embarked upon so far in Nigeria before the creation of a constituent part of the country, was done, gave birth to the Mid-west Region, which comprised the Benin and Delta provinces. The then Mid-west Region now constitutes the present day Edo and Delta States.
September 11, 1963
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by Justice Sobo Sowemimo, after he was found guilty of treason for plotting to overthrow the government of Balewa. Awo’s concerted efforts to stall the sentence failed as Sowemimo said while delivering his judgment: “My hands are tied.”
May 25, 1965
Violence erupted at the Western House of Assembly in Ibadan, the then capital of Western Region, which stalled two separate meetings slated for the day at the House of Assembly complex. Both supporters of Awolowo and Akintola engaged in a free for all, culminating in destruction of government property.
October 11, 1965
A regional election held in the Western Region was characterised by widespread electoral malpractices allegedly orchestrated by Akintola’s Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). This sparked off violence, tagged ‘Operation Wetie’, an act that earned the region the appellation: Wild, Wild, West!
October 12, 1965
As a result of the widespread irregularities that marred the election, the then AG leader, Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro, announced the formation of an interim government in the Western Region.
January 15, 1966
The first military coup d’état carried out in Nigeria was led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu. The development ended the First Republic and led to the death of top politicians such as Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Nigeria, Balewa and Akintola.
January 16, 1966
Lt. General Aguiyi-Ironsi became the first military Head of State following the January 15 military incursion into politics. Aguiyi-Ironsi abolished the existing federal system and introduced a unitary system of government in Nigeria.
July 29, 1966
There was a counter coup plot by young officers from the North, which led to the assassination of Aguiyi-Ironsi along with Brigadier General Adekunle Fajuyi, the then military governor of Western Region. Fajuyi, who was hosting the military leader at his official residence in Ibadan, offered himself to be killed alongside his guest after failed pleas with the coup plotters to spare Aguiyi-Ironsi’s life.
July 30 and 31
There was leadership vacuum in Nigeria as there was dissension among military men over who should succeed the slain Aguiyi-Ironsi. While Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the then military governor of Eastern Nigeria, insisted that the most senior military officer, Brigadier-General Babafemi Ogundipe, be installed as head of state, Northern officers refused. Hence, Ogundipe offered to be posted out of Nigeria as an ambassador.
August 1, 1966
After two days of contention, Northern officers resolved to install Yakubu Gowon as Nigeria’s second military head of state after Aguiyi-Ironsi. Gowon emerged the youngest ruler of Nigeria, whether military or civilian, that the nation has ever had even until date. He became head of state as a bachelor.
September 12, 1966
Gowon inaugurated an ad hoc constitutional conference in preparation for transition to civil rule.
January 4-5, 1967
Aburi Accord was reached at a meeting attended by delegates of both the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Eastern delegates, led by the soon-to-become-Biafran leader, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The meeting was part of efforts to prevent an all out war following the decision of the East to break away from Nigeria. Aburi, Ghana, became the choice venue because of Ojukwu’s safety.
May 27, 1967
The military regime of Gowon divided Nigeria into 12 states to replace the existing four regions and provinces structure.
July 6, 1967
Civil war began. The war, which was a result of Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s insistence to lead the then Eastern Region as part of moves to form the Republic of Biafra, lasted three years.
January 13, 1970
Civil war ended as Biafran soldiers surrendered. Gowon accepted and declared “no victor, no vanquished,” while Odumegwu-Ojukwu fled to Cote d’Voire where he had been offered an asylum.
October 1, 1970
Gowon announced a nine-point agenda for Nigeria’s return to civil rule with the promise to hand over power in 1976.
October 1, 1974
Gowon dampened the nation’s spirit, saying the proposed 1976 handover of power was no longer feasible.
July 29, 1975
Gowon’s government was overthrown in a bloodless coup by Brig.-General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, who immediately became the head of state.
February 3, 1976
Murtala’s regime created more states, increasing the number of states in the country from 12 to 19.
February 13, 1976
Murtala Muhammed was killed in an abortive coup led by Lt-Col. Buka Suka Dimka. This paved the way for General Olusegun Obasanjo to become the head of state.
September 21, 1978
Obasanjo’s military regime lifted the ban on political parties and commenced a transition from military to civil rule.
October 1, 1979
After 13 years of military interregnum, Obasanjo handed over power to Alhaji Aliyu Usman Shehu Shagari as Nigeria’s first Executive President. Shagari was elected on the platform of National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
December 18 - 29, 1980
Maitatsine religious crisis broke out in several parts of the North, which resulted in wanton destruction of lives and property. The riot in Kano alone resulted in the death of 4,177 people. The crisis was orchestrated by a religious extremist, Mohammed Marwa Maitatsine, a Camerounian, who had once been deported to Cameroun by the Nigerian government over manifestations of religious extremism but who soon found his way back to the country. He was killed in one of the riots in Kano. Maitatsine riot was believed to be the worst religious crisis in the North.
December 31, 1983
Shagari’s government was overthrown by the military led by Maj.-General Muhammadu Buhari and Brig.-Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, drawing the curtains on another democratic era.
April 5, 1985
Security agents sealed Newswatch’s premises and arrested its editors – Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed without reason.
August 27, 1985
General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida toppled Buhari’s government in another bloodless coup.
October 19, 1986
Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, Mr. Dele Giwa, was killed via a bomb parcel that was delivered to him at home.
September 23, 1987
Babangida announced the creation of two additional states– Akwa Ibom and Katsina– thus raising the number of existing states to 21 from 19.
May 3, 1989
An endless transition programme commenced, as Babangida lifted ban on political activities.
October 7, 1989
The military government of Babangida announced the formation of only two political parties – Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) to participate in the new transition arrangement.
August 27, 1991
Babangida created nine more states, bringing the number of states in Nigeria to 30.
June 10, 1993
An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Bassey Ikpeme, gave an order halting the conduct of the much-awaited June 12, 1993 presidential election that would have rounded off elections to herald a new government in Nigeria under the Babangida transition programme. Justice Ikpeme gave the ruling halting the declaration of the election results in a suit instituted by Abiola Davies’ Association for Better Nigeria.
June 11, 1993
Chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC), Professor Humphrey Nwosu, made several unsuccessful calls to Babangida to seek his opinion on the court order. But none of the calls went through as they all gave engaged tones. Therefore, Nwosu went ahead with the conduct of the election scheduled for the following day.
June 12, 1993
Despite the court order, NEC conducted the presidential election acclaimed as Africa’s freest and fairest election.
June 14, 1993
Some protesters in Sokoto and Kano states called for the annulment of the election, alleging low voters’ turnout and irregularities.
June 16, 1993
The NEW NIGERIAN newspaper in its editorial, also called for the annulment of the June 12 election.
June 23, 1993
Babangida shocked the nation when he announced the annulment of the June 12 election, through a national broadcast on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), without giving any clear reason.
June 24, 1994
Riots broke out in Lagos as residents trooped out en masse to protest the annulment of the election said to be freest and fairest in Nigeria and presumably won by businessman, Chief M.K.O. Abiola of the SDP. Civil groups and political activists condemned the annulment and commenced consultations on how to resist it.
August 16, 1993
Babangida issued Decree 48 of 1993, which took a retroactive effect from July 22, to legalise his government’s proscription of some national newspapers such as NATIONAL CONCORD titles, THE PUNCH, DAILY SKETCH and THE GUARDIAN, whose criticisms of the annulment he found offensive.
August 17, 1993
Babangida, following intense pressure, addressed a joint session of the National Assembly to solicit their support to extend his stay in power, but the demand was rejected.
August 26, 1993
Babangida “stepped aside” and installed Chief Ernest Shonekan, Abiola’s kinsman from Abeokuta, Ogun State, as the head of the Interim National Government. Shonekan was sworn in by the then Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Bello.
November 17, 1993
Nigeria returned to military rule as General Sani Abacha overthrew Shonekan’s ING and dissolved all democratic organs of government.
May 15, 1994
National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) was formed in Lagos at the residence of General Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd.) with the mission to fight Abacha’s junta. The group convened on the aegis of Council of Unity before transforming into NADECO.
June 12, 1994
After intense pressure from supporters and stakeholders, Abiola declared himself the elected president of Nigeria in Epetedo, Lagos State, based on the annulled results of the June 12, 1993 election.
June 27, 1994
Abacha inaugurated a Constitutional Conference Commission in preparation for another transition to civil rule.
July 27, 1994
MKO Abiola was arrested by Abacha’s government for alleged treason for declaring himself president.
August 7, 1994
Abiola refused bail that was granted him two days earlier (August 5). Following the refusal, then Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, signed his detention order because Lt. General Oladipo Diya refused to append his signature to the bail conditions.
March 13, 1995
Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was tried for allegedly plotting coup against the military regime of General Sani Abacha and sentenced to life in prison. This was later commuted to 15 years after pressure from friends abroad, including South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, former US President Jimmy Carter and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
October 6, 1995
Lagos-based businessman, Alfred Rewane, the committed financier of NADECO, was murdered at his GRA, Ikeja home.
November 10, 1995
Abacha’s junta hanged famous writer and Niger Delta activist, Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists protesting the degradation of their community by Shell Petroleum despite clement pleas across the globe.
June 4, 1996
One of the wives of Abiola and one of the pillars of the June 12 struggle, Kudirat, was assassinated on a sunny afternoon in her car on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
October 1, 1996
The embattled Abacha regime created six more states, bringing the total number of states to 36.
December 21, 1997
Lt. General Oladipo Diya, second in command to Abacha, was arrested over alleged coup plot.
June 8, 1998
Shock and jubilation enveloped Nigeria as Abacha, whose government held the nation hostage for almost five years, suddenly died in mysterious circumstances.
June 10, 1998
General Abdusalami Abubakar who had been reportedly slated for retirement by the Abacha government, took over the reins of power in the wake of Abacha’s death.
June 15, 1998
Olusegun Obasanjo was released from prison following Abacha’s death.
July 20, 1998
Forty days after his emergence as Head of State, Abubakar announced a 10-month transition programme.
July 7, 1998
Riots erupted in South-western Nigeria as barely a month after Abacha’s death, Abiola, the beacon of democracy, reportedly died in yet another mysterious circumstance shortly after a meeting with some government and foreign guests.
October 18, 1998
The most deadly explosion in Nigeria, which claimed no fewer than 1,082 lives took place in Jesse community, Edo State. The explosion was said to have taken place after scavengers ruptured oil pipelines that ignited the blaze.
May 29, 1999
Despite cynicisms on the Abubakar transition programme, Nigeria finally returned to civil rule after 16 years of military rule. Abubakar handed over power to Obasanjo, who became president on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
June 4, 1999
The new National Assembly was inaugurated with Senator Evans Enwerem becoming the Senate President and Salisu Buhari, Speaker, House of Representatives.
January 27, 2000
Zamfara State Governor Ahmad Sani Yerima, adopted the Sharia legal system. This led to religious crisis which later spread to some other Northern states.
February 21, 2000
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), protested moves by the Kaduna State House of Assembly to adopt Sharia in a state with high Christian population. This was also followed by religious riots in which thousands died.
June 28, 2000
There were reprisals in the South-east following the arrival of trucks which conveyed slain people of Igbo origin in the Kaduna riot to Aba.
June 25, 2000
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural group,warned against posting Igbo youth corps members to sharia states.
March 10, 2000
The hand of Baba Bello Jangedi, the first victim of Sharia, was cut off for allegedly stealing a cow.
January 27, 2002
A bomb explosion in Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos, led to the death of over 2,000 residents of the state, who died in Oke Afa canal in Isolo area of the state while running away from the unknown.
May 29, 2003
Obasanjo took oath of office for a second term in office as president.
April 21, 2006
Nigeria paid the final installment of $4.518 billion to exit the Paris Club. Earlier, Nigeria had paid $12.4 billion in arrears after which it was granted debt forgiveness.
May 16, 2006
Senate threw out Obasanjo’s alleged third term plot via a voice vote called by the then Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani.
April 14 and 21, 2007
Nigeria’s 2007 elections, described as the worst ever in Nigeria’s political history, were conducted on these dates by a former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu.
May 29, 2007
Nigeria made history transiting from one civil rule to another as Obasanjo bowed out of power after serving out two his terms of eight years. He handed over the reins of power to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
August 14, 2008
Nigeria ceded Bakassi to Cameroun following the 2002 judgment by the International Court of Justice, which ruled that the disputed oil-rich territory belonged to Cameroun.
July 29, 2009
A group, Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, otherwise called Boko Haram, which means ‘education is sin,’ engaged Nigerian security forces in deadly clashes, which led to the death of about 700 people in Bauchi and Borno States.
July 30, 2009
The group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by police while in their custody.
November 23, 2009
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia on medical ground, having been diagnosed of acute pericaditis, an inflammation of the membrane covering the heart, without transmitting to the National Assembly a letter of vacation which would have authorised his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to act in his stead. This raised tension and unrest in the polity following his prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia without anyone to pilot the affairs of the state.
December 25, 2009
A Nigerian, Farouk Abdumutallab, was arrested by the United States following his foiled attempt to bomb a US bound Delta Airline flight which took off from Nigeria on Christmas Day.
January 4, 2010
United States enlisted Nigeria as country of interest in the fight against the scourge of global terrorism.
February 9, 2010
National Assembly conferred on the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan the power to become Acting President after a series of protests led by civil society groups against the failure of Yar’Adua to hand over power to him. The legislature adopted what it called the doctrine of necessity to facilitate Jonathan’s emergence as acting president.
May 5, 2010
Yar’Adua died in Aso Rock Presidential Villa and became the second Nigerian leader to die in office.
May 6, 2010
Following the death of Yar’Adua, Jonathan was sworn in as substantive president, thus ending six months of controversies over Nigeria’s leadership.
June 8, 2010
Jonathan appoints Professor Attahiru Jega, former President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as INEC chairman following the sack of Iwu. The appointment was celebrated across the country.
September 7, 2010
The Boko Haram sect broke into Bauchi Prison and freed about 750 inmates, some of whom were believed to be its members.
October 1, 2010
Explosion rocked Abuja during Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary celebration. The explosion occurred near Eagle Square where the anniversary was being celebrated, leaving a lot of people dead and many others injured.
May 29, 2011
Jonathan took oath of office as the Nigeria’s fourth elected president following his victory in the April 23 presidential poll. However, while Jonathan’s inauguration was ongoing, three bomb blasts rocked Zuba near Abuja, Zaria and Maiduguri. Two people died in the explosion, while 16 others, including children, were seriously injured.
June 16, 2011
A suicide bomb explosion rocked the Nigerian Police headquarters in Abuja, killing three and leaving many others injured. The bomb exploded in a car park in the Louis Edet House few days after the then Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, threatened to wipe out the sect in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
August 26, 2011
The United Nations building in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was reduced to rubble following a deadly suicide bombing. Nineteen people died in the explosion while 60 others were severely wounded. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and a number of other world leaders condemned the act to which the Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility.
October 1, 2011
Nigeria organised a low-key independence anniversary celebration inside Aso Rock. Although, the presidency denied it, insinuations were rife that the decision was prompted by security concern that Boko Haram could attempt to bomb the event .
January 1, 2012
The Federal Government removed petroleum subsidy and hiked the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS) from N65to N141 under the full deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry. The action triggered widespread condemnations and anger across the country.
January 9, 2012
The organised labour declared a nationwide strike after the expiration of ultimatum given to the Federal Government to reverse the pump price of petrol to N65. The strike was accompanied by nationwide protests, which shook the nation to its foundation.
January 16, 2012
After series of deadlocked meetings between the government and organised labour, Jonathan reduced the price of petrol to N97 per litre. Consequently, labour called off the strike. And in order to arrest the growing spate of protests in the land, Jonathan deployed soldiers in Lagos and some other parts of the country to stop the protest over the hike in fuel price.