There are 6 (six) geopolitical or geographical zones in Nigeria.
Each of them involving a particular number of states, ethnic groups and languages.
This article explains how this well-organized division came to know about each.
Who Created The Zones And When?
The geopolitical zones were created by the former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha.
The 10th Military Head of State and dictator that ruled Nigeria from 1993 to 1998.
In the creation of these zones, a lot of factors were considered. You will learn more about that below.
How They Were Created
Nigeria is quite a large country. As a matter of fact, it is the largest country in Africa by population.
Though by land mass, it is not even among the top 10.
For a nation of over 200 million people (in 2019) with over 450 different languages spoken by over 400 unique ethnic groups, maintaining law and order is not a small task.
Same as distribution of resources coming from the federal account or purse. This was the major thing that led to the creation of the zones.
When you hear about the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, the first thing that comes to your mind is to think of these geopolitical zones as being created based on their geographical locations.
Especially as a foreigner. One would think that states that are close to each other by geographically location were put together in one zone. But that is not the case.
In the creation of the zones, the geographical location of states was not the main criteria considered.
Rather, their ethnic groups, political history and economic preferences.
So the states with the common economic contributions, ethnic groups and political history were grouped or put together in one zone.
As a result of that grouping, we now have 6 geopolitical zones within the country.
These zones are: South East, South South, South West, North Central, North West, and North East. Below, we will discuss each of these zones in full.
To digress a little. I once published a comprehensive write up on the South West States in Nigeria and South East States in Nigeria.
You should check them out and same will be done for other regions very soon.
Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria
- South East
- South South
- South West
- North Central
- North East
- North West
Below is a detailed explanation of each of the Nigerian geopolitical zones. Here, you will learn about the states, ethnic groups and languages that make up each of these zones. Read on!
1.) South East
- Number of States – 5
This is smallest of the zones by the number of states ethnic groups and languages within it.
The Zone is made up of Abia State, Anambra State, Enugu State, Ebonyi State and Imo State.
Here, the Igbos are the primary ethnic group and the Igbo language is widely spoken.
This zone is known for industry and commercial activities in its major cities like Onitsha, Aba , Owerri, Enugu and Abakaliki. Oil and Coal are among the numerous natural resources found in this zone.
The agricultural products you will find in this zone are palm oil, cashew, kolanut, cassava, yam and rice.
2.) South South
- Number of states – 6
This state is also referred to as the Niger Delta. It is a very important zone. Just like every other zone in the country.
Its economic importance to Nigeria cannot be over emphasized.
The zone is made up of 6 states, which are: Akwaibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Edo.
Unlike the aforementioned zone, the South South zone is made up of different ethnic groups.
These ethnic groups are: Anang, Bini, Efik, Essan, Ibibio, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Ikwere and Ogini.
The major cities you will find in this zone are: Asaba, Benin City, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Yenegoa and Warri.
This zone is known for the production of oil (crude oil and gas) which is the major natural deposit the zone is blessed with. The zone is also known for agricultural products like rubber, ply wood etc.
3.) South West
- Number of state – 6
The South West is among the largest zones in terms of population. They are of high significance politically and economically to the federation.
Among the states that make up the South West zone are: Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun andOyo states.
These states are known for their agricultural and commercial activities.
Among their major cities are :Abeokuta, Ado-Ekiti, Akure, Ibadan, Lagos, Ogbomoso and Osogbo.
The Yorubas are the major ethnic group you will come across in this zone hence the Yoruba language is widely spoken here.
Among their natural resources are oil and gas, iron ore, silver and rock. They are also known for agricultural products like rubber, cocoa, cassava etc.
4.) North Central
- Number of States: 6 + FCT
Also called the Middlebelt, this zone known for its agricultural input in the country.
Whatever affects this zone will lead to hunger throughout the federation.
Every one of the states in this zone is seriously into agriculture.
The states that are in this zone are: Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau and Federal Capital Territory (Abuja).
In this zone you will find several ethnic groups and languages.
Including the people of Idoma, Berom,Gbagyi, Gwandara, Igala, Mada-Eggon, Mangu, Nupe, Tiv and Yoruba.
Their most popular cities includes: Abuja, Ilorin, Jos,Lokoja, Makurdi and Minna.
In this zone you will find natural resources like limestone, coal and different precious stones.
You will also find agricultural products like Yam, Cassava, Cashew, Palm Wine, Palm Oil, Onions, Potatoes etc in very large quantities here.
5.) North East
- Number of States – 6
This geopolitical zone is known for its large population and agricultural products.
The zone is made up of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states.
Here you will find several ethnic groups, including:Babur, Balewa, Fulani, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Mumuye, Nupe and Tiv.
The zone is known for agricultural products lie Onions, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Yam, Millet, Guinea peas etc.
Among their major cities are: Bauchi, Damaturu, Gombe, Jalingo, Maiduguri and Yola.
The zone is also known for the production of texiles and livestock.
6.) North West
- Number of States – 7
This is the largest geopolitical zone in the country in size and population.
The zone is made up of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kastina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
Among the several ethnic groups found here are Baju, Fulani, Gbagyi, Hausa, Jabba, Kanuri, Maguzawa, Zara and Zuru.
This zone boasts of every popular cities like Birnin-Kebbi, Dutse, Gusau, Kaduna, Kano, kastina, Sokoto and Zaria. These cities are known for commercial activities and industries.
Among the things you will find here are textiles, hides and sins, livestock and agricultural products like bitter kola, tomatoes, onions, millet, maize, cowpeas and so on.
These are the 6 geographical zones in Nigeria.
This article features their ethnic groups, languages and every other thing you need to know about them.
Here you learn about when they were created, who created them and why they were created.
While some people are asking the Federal Government to allow these geopolitical zones to have autonomous power over their natural resources, many organizations and ethnic groups are still clamoring for more states to be created in their zones.
Whether that will happen anytime soon we are not sure of. But these are the available states in each of the zones in the country for now.