Last updated on September 30th, 2023 at 10:00 pm
On May 27, 1967, the military regime of Yakubu Gowon carved 12 states out of the four regions. On February 3, 1976, seven states were added, bringing the states in Nigeria to 19.
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And in 1987 Katsina and Akwa Ibom states were created and by 1991, 9 more states were created while total number of states in Nigeria became 36, following the creation of 6 more states by Late Gen. Sani Abacha. Here is the history of state creation in Nigeria from May 27, 1967 till October 1, 1996.
Before State Creation
Till Nigeria gained Independence on October 1, 1960, there were three regions with a regional government. The three pioneer regions were Northern, Western, and Eastern.
In 1963, the Western region gave birth to the Mid-Western Region, bringing the total to four regions, each was manned by the Premier while Alhaji Tafawa Balewa (Late), who was the Prime Minister, was the Head of Government; Nnamdi Azikiwe, the President, was the ceremonial Head of State.
This history became necessary as Nigeria’s Upper Legislative Chamber, The Senate, is proposing to create 23 new states, you can find the full list at: https://infomediang.com/23-new-states-in-nigeria-proposed-by-senate
Military Coup Overhaul Regional Government
The first coup de tat of January 15, 1966, that swept away the government of Tafawa Balewa paved the way for the creation of states.
The coup led to another coup in July 1966, which brought in the government of Yakubu Gowon after the killing of Aguiyi-Ironsi, the military head of state, and some senior military officers across the country in what was described as a counter-coup.
The Eastern region at the time led by Lt. Col. Dim Odumegu Ojukwu who believed that there was something sinister about the counter-coup, announced the Republic of Biafra a few months after.
Gowon, the military head of state was treating the Biafra Republic as a joke until Ojuwku showed more commitment to his course.
The action of Ojukwu made Gowon create 12 states out of the existing regions. One of the moves was to lessen the area of influence under Ojukwu.
List of 12 states created in 1967
Under Ojukwu’s control alone, three states were carved out of the Eastern region, they include:
- South Eastern State
- East Central
The 12 states that were created by Gowon on May 27, 1967, and the military governors are:
- East Central State: Col. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu
- North Central State: Bri-Gen. Abba Kyari
- Kwara State: Col. Ibrahim Taiwo
- Benue-Plateau State: CP Joseph Gomwalk
- Bendel State: Col. Samuel Ogbemudia
- Western State: Col. Robert Adeyinka Adebayo
- Lagos State: Col. Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson
- Cross River State: Col. Udoakaha Jacob Esuene
- Kano State: Col. Sanni Bello
- Rivers State: Lieutenant Commander Papayere Diette-Spiff
- Northeastern State: Col. Musa Usman
- Northwestern State: CP Usman Faruk
Murtala Mohammed made a few adjustment in the existing states as follows:
List of 7 States Created in 1976
On February 3, 1976, the military regime of General Murtala Muhammed created seven states to bring the total number of states in Nigeria to 19.
The states are:
- Bauchi (Northeastern state)
- Ogun (Western state)
- Benue (Benu-Plateau state)
- Anambra (East Central State)
- Imo (East Centra State)
- Niger (North Western state))
- Ondo (Western state))
Gen Murtala’s regime also named Abuja as the new Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
States creation in 1987
And on September 23, 1987, two more states were created by the regime of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB). They are.
- Katsina (out of Kaduna State)
- Akwa Ibom (out of Cross River State)
List of 9 States Created in 1991
Again, the military president IBB announced the creation of another nine states to bring the number to 30 on 27 August 1991.
- Abia (out of Imo)
- Kogi (out of Kwara and Benue states)
- Taraba (Gongola)
- Enugu (old Anambra State)
- Delta (out of Bendel state)
- Osun (Out of Oyo)
- Yobe (out of Borno State)
- Jigawa (out of Kano State)
- Kebbi (out of Sokoto State)
The last creation of states in Nigeria:
The regime of Sani Abacha (Late) on October 1, 1996, during his Independence Day speech, announced the establishment of six additional states to bring the number to 36 till date.
The states include:
- Bayelsa (out of Rivers State)
- Ebonyi (Enugu and Abia states)
- Ekiti (out Ondo State)
- Gombe (state Bauchi state)
- Nasarawa (out of Plateau state)
- Zamfara (out of Sokoto state)
His regime also reorganized the zones into 6 geo-political zones. That’s what Nigeria has been using to date until the Senate Committee on Constitution Review released a list of 23 proposed states on August 7, 2021