Association of 
Nigerian Scholars 
for Dialogue
                 Wilberforce Conference on Nigerian Federalism

Historical Maps of Regions and States of Nigeria
Reproduced from Wiberforce Conference on Nigerian Federalism (1997), edited by Peter Ekeh

Editorial Notes

Nigerian federalism took firm roots in 1954 when three regions were established in a federal format for the first time in Nigerian political history. Before then, colonial Nigeria was made of twenty-four Provinces which were run from the Centre in Lagos in three clusters of geographical administrative regions. These regions -- of Western Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, and Northern Nigeria -- were transformed by the British into quasi-autonomous federal states in 1954, following a series of conferences, beginning with Ibadan Conference of 1950.

Despite agitations for more regions, principally by minority ethnic nationalities (see Willink Commission), British colonial rule ended with the three regions in 1960. In 1963, ethnic minorities were separated from the Western Region and turned into  the Midwestern Region by an act of Parliament. There ensued a national crisis, originating from Western Nigeria. It was this crisis that led to a military coup d'etat of 1966. The escalation of the crisis clearly presaged a civil war between the military establishment of the Federal Government, under General Yakubu Gowon, and a rebellious Igbo insurgency led by Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
. In preparation for that eventuality, the Federal Government created a total of twelve states out of the original four regions (East, West, Midwest, and North).

At the time of General Gowon's overthrow by the team of Murtala Muhammed and General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1975, Nigeria had twelve states that survived the end of the civil war in 1970. But the new team embarked on further state creation. They and their successors, by military fiat, created twenty-four more states between 1976 and 1991, for a current total of thirty-six federal states.

The three maps that are reproduced from the publication Wilberforce Conference on Nigerian Federalism thus denote three critical periods in Nigerian political history.

Map 1
Three Federal Regions Created by British Colonial Rule from Pre-1954 Provinces

Map 2
Twelve States Crated by the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Eve of Civil War (1967-1970)

Map 3
Further States Created by the Regime of Gen. Murtala Mu hammed and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and their Military Successors (1976-1991)