The last changes to the Nigerian state structure were made in 1996 but there has been a push for the addition of 18 more states to make a total of 54.
Among the changes that Nigeria has gone through is the dissolving and formation of states. Nigeria currently has 6 geo-political zones and 36 states in total. Each state has amazing stories behind their formation and their names. See how all the 36 Nigerian states got their names.
This is a timeline of how Nigeria was divided and how the states were carved out.
When Nigeria was a British protectorate, it was divided into the Southern and Northern regions, after amalgamation in 1912. By 1960 when Nigeria gained her Independence, Nigeria had been divided into 3 regions — Northern, Western and Eastern regions.
In 1963, the mid-western region was carved out of the Western region, making it four regions in Nigeria.
Nigeria had gained independence and survived a coup d'etat, putting Nigeria under military rule. In 1967, General Yakubu Gowon divided the regions were divided into 12 states. This was also the time when the eastern and the mid-western regions unsuccessfully attempted to secede from Nigeria. The states that formed were Northeastern state, Northwestern state, Kano state, Kaduna state, Kwara, Benue-Plateau state, Western state, Lagos, Bendel state, Rivers, Cross River state and East Central state.
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The former midwestern region was not divided but rather formed the Bendel state. In February, 1976, the Federal Capital Territory was formed from parts of Benue-Plateau, North-Central and North-Western states or the current Nasarawa, Niger and Kogi states.
In 1976, seven new states were created out of the already existing states. The East Central state was divided to Imo and Anambra states. The Western state was divided into Ogun, Oyo and Ondo. Benue-Plateau state was separated to two individual states. North Western state was split into Niger and Sokoto, while the Borno, Bauchi and Gongola were formed out of the North Eastern state.
In 1987, two more states were formed to make up 21 states altogether. Akwa-Ibom was carved out of Cross-River and Katsina was carved out of Kaduna.
On December 12, 1991, the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, formerly known as Suleja, was officially announced as Nigeria's new seat of power, replacing Lagos. It was not to be a state but a territory, headed by a minister.
Also during this period, nine more states were added to the list of states in Nigeria. Abia was carved out of Imo, Osun from Oyo and Enugu from Anambra. Bendel state was dissolved to form Edo and Delta states. Kogi was carved out of Benue and Kwara while Jigawa was carved out of Kano. Kebbi was gotten from Sokoto, Yobe from Borno, and Gongola was dissolved to form Adamawa and Taraba.
Six more states were added to the already existing 30 to form a total of 36 states. Ebonyi state was carved out of Abia and Enugu, Bayelsa was carved out Rivers state, Ekiti separated from Ondo, Nasarawa from Plateau, Zamfara from Sokoto and Gombe from Bauchi. These were the last changes made to the state structure of Nigeria and remain so till this day.
The Etsu-Nupe, among the monarchs who recently went to welcome Prince Charles to Nigeria, has pushed for the creation of the Edu state which will be the homeland of all Nupe speaking people, carved out of Niger, Kogi and Kwara states.
Not only that, the 2014 National Conference CONFAB, pushed for the restructuring of Nigeria, and the addition of 18 new states to make a total of 54 states. These were the states to be created, according to Vanguard Nigeria:
Apa from Benue, Edu from Niger, Kainji from Kebbi state, Katagum from Bauchi, Savannah from Borno, Amana from Adamawa, Gurara from Kaduna, Ghari from Kano, Etiti from South East, Aba from Abia, Adada from Enugu, Njaba-Anim from Anambra and Imo, Oil Rivers from Rivers state, Anioma from Delta state, Ogoja from Cross River State, IJebu from Ogun State, Ose state from Edo, New Oyo State from the present Oyo State.
The recommendation report was submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan but has not been implemented.
We wonder if the creation of 18 new states is really the way Nigeria should go.