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History of Niger State: From Precolonial Times to Present

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Niger State

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Niger State, located in the North Central region of Nigeria, is the largest state in the country. It was formed in 1976 when the North-Western State was divided. The state’s capital is Minna, and other major cities include Bida, Kontagora, and Suleja. Niger State is home to Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, two former military rulers of Nigeria. The state is named after the River Niger, and it is known for its hydroelectric power stations, including the Kainji Dam, Shiroro Dam, and Zungeru Dam. The famous Gurara Falls and Kainji National Park are also located in this State. The indigenous tribes of Niger State include the Nupe, Gbagyi, Kamuku, Kambari, Gungawa, Hun-Saare, Hausa, and Koro.

History of Niger State

The history of Niger State is marked by various influences and developments. In the 19th century, the region experienced severe depopulation due to slave raiding by the Fulani armies of the Kontagora and Nupe emirates. Additionally, the presence of the tsetse fly hindered resettlement efforts. The British created Niger Province in 1908, which was later renamed Nupe Province from 1918 to 1926.

It encompassed several emirates, chiefdoms, and federations. In 1967, Niger province became part of North-Western State and eventually became Niger State in 1976.

In 1991, a portion of northwestern Kwara state was added to Niger state. The population of the State is diverse, with various ethnic groups such as the Nupe, Gwari, Busa, Kamberi, Hausa, Fulani, Kamuku, and Dakarki.

The state’s economy relies on the cultivation of crops like cotton, shea nuts, yams, peanuts, millet, cowpeas, corn, tobacco, palm oil, kernels, kola nuts, sugarcane, and fish. Paddy rice is a significant cash crop in the floodplains of the Niger and Kaduna rivers. Livestock farming is also prominent, with cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, guinea fowl, and pigs being raised. The state is known for its mining activities, including gold, tin, iron, and quartz. It also has a thriving craft industry, producing pottery, brass work, glass manufactures, raffia articles, and locally dyed cloth.

Niger is home to several dams, including the Niger Dams Project and Kainji Dam, which generate hydroelectric power and support irrigation projects. The state is also known for its natural beauty, with Kainji Lake National Park being a prominent attraction.

The chief towns of Niger state are Minna and Bida, which serve as education centers and have institutions such as teacher-training colleges, a polytechnic institute, and a federal university of technology. The state has a well-connected highway system that serves various market towns.

Government of Niger State

The government of this State, like many other Nigerian states, operates under a democratic system. The current governor of Niger State is Abubakar Sani Bello, who was elected by the people. The governor works in collaboration with the Niger State House of Assembly. The capital city of Niger State is Minna.

Niger State is divided into three Senatorial Zones or Districts, namely Niger East, Niger North, and Niger South. These zones play a significant role in the governance and representation of the state.

The electoral system in the State follows a modified two-round system. In the first round of elections, a candidate must receive the majority of the votes and at least 25% of the votes in a minimum of two-thirds of the local government areas in the state. If no candidate meets these criteria, a second round of voting is held between the top candidate and the candidate with the highest number of votes in the most local government areas.

LGAs in Niger State

The State is divided into 25 local government areas, each led by a local government chairman. These areas are further divided into districts, with each district having a district head. Additionally, villages within the state are headed by village heads. The local government areas in Niger State include Agaie, Agwara, Bida, Borgu, Bosso, Chanchaga, Edati, Gbako, Gurara, Katcha, Kontagora, Lapai, Lavun, Magama, Mariga, Mashegu, Mokwa, Munya, Paikoro, Rafi, Rijau, Shiroro, Suleja, Tafa, and Wushishi.

Tertiary institutions

This state is home to several tertiary educational institutions, including the Federal Polytechnic in Bida, the Federal University of Technology in Minna, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University in Lapai, Niger State Polytechnic in Zungeru, Federal College of Education in Kontagora, Edusoko University in Bida, New Gate University in Minna, Niger State College of Education in Minna, Government Technical College in Minna, Government Technical College in Kontagora, Niger State College of Nursing in Bida, Government Technical College in Bussa, Government Technical College Eyagi in Bida, New Gate College of Health Science and Technology in Minna, School of Basic Midwifery in Minna, and Federal Government Girls in Bida.

Natural resources

This Northern State is rich in natural resources, with a diverse range of valuable minerals. These include uranium, coal, gold, iron ore, tin, phosphate, crude oil, molybdenum, salt, and gypsum. The presence of these resources provides significant potential for economic development and growth in the state.

Languages

The State is home to a diverse range of languages. In different Local Government Areas (LGAs) within the state, various languages are spoken. For example, in Agaie LGA, the languages spoken include Nupe, Dibo, and Kakanda. In Bida LGA, the languages spoken are Nupe, Hausa, BassaNge, and Gbari. The Borgu LGA is home to languages such as Busa, Bisã, Boko, Cishingini, Laru, and Reshe. Chanchaga LGA has Basa-Gumna, Basa-Gurmana, Gbagyi, Gbari, Nupe, Kamuku, and Tanjijili as its languages. These are just a few examples, as there are many more languages spoken throughout Niger State, reflecting the rich linguistic diversity of the region.

Climate

Niger State experiences a predominantly warm climate, with an average yearly temperature of 34 degrees Celsius. The region maintains a consistently warm or hot climate throughout the year, with a few months exhibiting typically tropical and sultry conditions. However, the humidity levels can be uncomfortably high from June to September. For travelers, the best time to visit is from November to April, as there is less rainfall during this period. The rainy season occurs from May to October, with September having the highest number of rainy days and December experiencing the least. In terms of sunshine, January is the sunniest month, while August is the least sunny.

This article was updated 3 months ago

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