Africa Since 1875

AFRICAN HISTORY TIMELINE: Independent Nigeria

Copyright 1998 by Jim Jones
All rights reserved

.......DATE............. ...........................EVENT............................. .........
1960-1966 First Republic of Nigeria under a British parliamenary system.
1960/10/01 At independence, the Nigerian government consisted of three ethnic states united in a federation. Each state was controlled by a single dominant ethnic-based party.
1960/late One of Nigeria's first independent political acts was to join with Liberia and Togo in the "Monrovia Group" which advocated at most an extremely loose organization of African states.
1962 By this time, the northern Northern People's Congress (NPC) controlled the federal government, while violence in the western region forced the dominant party there, the Yoruba "Action Group" (AG), to split in two. .
1965/11 Elections triggered violence in the western region, where Igbo civil servants of the Hausa- dominated federal government represented authority to the Yoruba population. .
1966/01 The Nigerian army staged its first coup. Rioting broke out against the Igbo minority in the north and nearly 30,000 died. .
1967 Igbo survivors of the northern violence fled back to the southeast and formed the independent state of the Republic of Biafra. The Nigerian government refused to yield control over the oil-rich southeast region, and the Biafran War ensued.
1967/05 A general named Yakubu Gowon took over the government and abolished the old system of three federal states, creating a new federation of twelve states. Since this weakened the old regional governments, it strengthened the army (majority Yoruba) and the federal government (dominated by Hausa northerners), if the army chose to yield power. .
1970 The Biafran War came to an end, leaving nearly two million people dead. .
1970-1979 Military rulers like Gowon (1967-1975), Murtala Muhamed and Olusegun Obasanjo ran Nigeria and altered the constitution again, creating 19 federal states. Those were the years of oil price increases, and Nigeria experienced an economic boom. One consequence was that many Nigerians have fond memories of military rule in this period.
1974 General Gowon reneged on a promise to restore civilian rule in 1976.
1975/10 Gowon was overthrown in a coup by General Murtala Mohammed.
1976 Mohammed was succeeded by General Olusegun Obasanjo.
1979 Civilian rule by the Nigerian parliament was restored, but the constitution was altered to a more "American" system of checks and balances. Five parties competed for the presidency, and Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won. .
1979-1983 Second Republic of Nigeria under Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
1981 The end of the oil price boom led to a general strike and the expulsion of more than one million foreign (non-Nigerian) African workers.
1983/09 In Nigeria's second national elections, Shehu Shagari was reelected president of Nigeria in August-September 1983.
1983/12/31 Major-General Muhammed Buhari led another military coup and overthrew the government of Shehu Shagari. Buhari suspended the 1979 constitution and arrested Shagari and other civilian politicians. .
1983-1985 Buhari's "War Against Indiscipline" uncovered corruption but spread to a war against journalists and public opinion. .
1985/08 General Ibrahim Babangida overthrew General Muhammed Buhari and used a referendum to get popular support for austerity measures that conformed to World Bank and IMF dictates. The subsequent period of the "Structural Adjustment Program" froze salaries while import prices increased, squeezing the Nigerian middle, working and poor classes.
1987 Babangida postponed the date of return to civilian rule from Oct. 1990 to Oct. 1992.
1988 The government reduced fuel price subsidies as part of its austerity program. In response, transporters raised their prices 50-100% and the rest of the population, especially students, went on strike. Police killed strikers in Jos. Fuel prices were lowered again, making Nigeria a source of smuggled fuel to neighboring countries.
1988 The government increased the number of states in Nigeria to 21 (from 19). Later on, a further increase brought the number to 30.
1989/10 Babangida's government refused to legalize 13 independent political parties. Instead, the government founded the SDP (center-left) and the RNC (center- right) as the only legal political parties. The government also forbade all veteran politicians from running for office. In reality, the army continued to run things. Civil and academic reaction was strongly negative.
1991/08-09 Administrative reform produced 9 new states and 140 additional local government areas. The date for transition to civilian rule was pushed back again, to January 2, 1993.
1991/late The government reversed itself and allowed "old breed" politicians to take part in presidential politics.
1991/12 Elections for state governors were dominated by new breed politicians, but the presidential campaigns opposed new and old breed politicians.
1992 Census figures show that Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, with 88.5 million people (Egypt is second with 52 million). Nigeria's GDP is second in Africa ($35 million to South Africa's $90 million), but per capita income is only $395.
1992/08-09 Presidential primaries marked by corruption, boycotts, violence, and illegality.
1992/10-11 Babangida cancelled the presidential primaries, banned leaders of both parties, and pushed the date of the presidential election back to the summer of 1993.
1993/03 New primaries yield Abiola and Tofa as presidential candidates. They were marked by corruption, but no acrimony or violence.
1993/06 First round of multiparty presidential election led to a contested victory by Moshood Abiola of the SDP. Babangida made a nationally broadcast speech (June 26) announcing that the elections were annulled. Abiola was imprisoned.
1993/08 The forced abdication of military president Ibrahim Babangida led to an interim military government under civilian businessman Ernest Shonekan.
1993/08/27 Scheduled second round of presidential elections were not held.
1993/10 The youthful group Movement for the Advancement of Democracy hijacked a Nigerian airliner to Niger in order to protest official corruption.
1993/11/02 The senate impeached their president, SDP member Iyorchia Ayu, a strong opponent of the interim government.
1993/11/17 General Sani Abacha abolished the constitution and assumed personal control of the Nigerian goverenment.
1993/12 Abacha decided to keep the state governorships in military hands, in order to use them as patronage.
1994/10 The Nigerian government established the "Ptroleum Trust fund" to disburse profits from the oil industry for public works and social intrevention.
1996 The military government executed political activists who opposed government oil policy in the southeast region (Royal Dutch Shell), including Ken Saro-Wiwa.
1996/05 Nnamdi Azzikiwe, Nigeria's first president, died.
1996/06 Kudirat, the wife of Moshood Abiola, was shot by an unknown gunman.
1997/01 To reduce inflation and combat corruption, the Nigerian government raised gasoline prices by 338 percent, introduce a five percent value-added tax, and devalued the currency by 386 percent.
1997/12 Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, a former vice-president and political opponent of Abacha, died in prison, leading to charges that he was poisoned.
1998/06/15 General Sani Abacha died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Thee following day, Nigeeria's "Provisional ruling Council" (29 military officers) swore in General Abdusalam Abubakar as the new head of state. He immediately promised to schedule elections to chose a civilian government.
1998/07/14 Moshood Abiola died in prison of heart disease before he could be released in a general amnesty for political prisoners. Rioting in Lagos led to 60 deaths.
1999/05/29 Former General Olusegun Obasanjo won election as president of the Third Republic of Nigeria.