Today is Nigeria's 53rd Independence Day. On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain. Click through for 53 historical events that have happened each year since that day:
1960: Nigeria gains independence and joins the United Nations. 1961: After a plebiscite the Northern Cameroons (part of British-controlled Cameroon, which before then was administered separately within Nigeria), votes to become a part of Nigeria. The Southern Cameroons becomes part of francophone Cameroon. 1962: In contribution to National Unity, the Nigerian government establishes two universities -Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Lagos. 1963: Nigeria is proclaimed a Republic. Nnamdi Azikiwe becomes the country's first president. 1964: Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) aligns with the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), led by Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, to form the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) ahead of national elections. At the same time, the Action Group (led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo) forms an alliance with the United Middle-Belt Congress (UMBC) and Alhaji Aminu Kano's Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and Borno Youth Movement to form the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA). 1965: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria is established through the work of noted accountants and advocates such as Akintola Williams. 1966: The Nigerian Army takes control of the government in a January coup. 1967: The Nigerian Civil War begins on July 6.
1968: General Yakubu Gowon announces that the Nigerian currency (the Nigerian pound) will be changed. 1969: Nigeria records its first plane crash. 1970: The Nigerian Civil War comes to an end and the country is reunified. 1971: Nigeria joins the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. 1972: Right-hand driving is adopted. 1973: Nigeria's currency changes: the new major currency unit is the naira, while the minor unit is the kobo. General Gowon establishes the National Youth Service Corps Scheme and introduces compulsory one-year service for all university graduates to promote integration and peace after the civil war. 1974: General Gowon says he could not keep his earlier promise to return power to a democratically elected government in 1976. He announces an indefinite postponement of a programme of transition to civil rule. 1975: General Gowon is overthrown in a coup led by General Murtala Ramat Mohammed while he is attending an OAU summit in Uganda. 1976: The National Theatre is completed in preparation for the 1977 Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC). General Mohammed is assasinated in an attempted coup. General Olusegun Obasanjo becomes head of state.
1977: The 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (better known as FESTAC'77) is hosted by Nigeria, with appearances and exhibits by artists from various countries, including South Africa's Miriam Makeba and Kenya's Harambe Dancers. 1978: A new constitution, modelled after the American presidential system, is published. 1979: Nigeria heads to the polls for a general election which sees the election of Shehu Shagari as the democratic president. 1980: The 12th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is hosted and won by Nigeria. 1981: The end of the oil price boom leads to a general strike and the expulsion of more than one million non-Nigerian workers. 1982: The Maitatsine riots - during which over 3,000 people die - take place in Maiduguri and Kaduna. 1983: Shehu Shagari is re-elected president of Nigeria, but his reign is short-lived. After a coup on December 31, General Muhammadu Buhari takes over and suspends the 1979 Constitution. Shagari and other politicians are arrested and imprisoned. 1984: General Buhari and his deputy Tunde Idiagbon introduce the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), which uncovers corruption in the ranks of government and society. 1985: General Buhari is overthrown in a palace coup. General Ibrahim Babangida becomes Nigeria's head of state. 1986: Wole Soyinka becomes the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. Foremost journalist Dele Giwa is assassinated by a parcel bomb believed to have been sent by the Babangida regime in an attempt to silence criticism of its policies.
1987: Obafemi Awolowo dies at the age of 78. 1988: The Nigerian government reduces fuel subsidies as part of its austerity program. In response, transporters raise their prices by 50-100%, and the rest of the population (especially students), go on strike. 1989: General Babangida's government refuses to legalise 13 independent political parties. Instead, the government establishes the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) as the country's only legal political parties. 1990: General Babangida survives a coup led by Major Gideon Orka. 1991: Nigeria’s capital moves from Lagos to Abuja. 1992: A census takes place with figures showing that Nigeria, with 88.5 million people, is Africa's most populous country. 1993: General Babangida annuls the presidential elections adjudged to have been won by businessman Moshood Abiola. After a brief period of rule by Ernest Shonekan, General Sani Abacha becomes Nigeria's head of state. 1994: Abiola is arrested in June after he declares himself president of the country. 1995: Nigerian writer, television producer, environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa is executed by the Nigerian government for treason. As a result, Nigeria is suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. 1996: Nigeria's Super Eagles football team win the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics. General Abacha creates 6 new states and 138 new local government areas. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria's first president, dies at the age of 91.
1997: Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick Fela Anikulapo-Kuti dies. His funeral in Lagos is attended by more than a million people. 1998: General Abacha dies at his villa in Abuja. He is replaced by Major General Abdulsalam Abubakar. 1999: The era of military rule comes to an end, with Olusegun Obasanjo becoming Nigeria's president. The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act is passed and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is established. 2000: Sharia law is adopted by several northern states in the face of opposition from Christians. 2001: Nigeria plays its first World Cup match against Argentina. 2002: The planned Miss World beauty pageant in Kaduna is relocated to Britain after religious protests. 2003: Nigeria holds its first legislative elections since the end of military rule. 2004: The Yelwa Massacre - during which 630 nomad Muslims are killed by Christians - takes place. 2005: The Paris Club agrees to write off two-thirds of Nigeria’s $30 billion debt. 2006: Nigeria becomes first African nation to pay off its debt to the Paris Club. 2007: As part of economic reforms, N50, N20, N10, and N5 banknotes, as well as N1 and 50K coins, are reissued with new designs, and a new N2 coin is introduced.
2008: Iran agrees to share nuclear technology with Nigeria to help it increase electricity generation. 2009: A two-month offer of a government amnesty for Niger Delta militants comes into force as thousands of militants drop their arms. 2010: President Umaru Yar’Adua dies after a long illness, making him the second Nigerian Head of State to die in office. 2011: Christmas Day bomb attacks across Northern Nigeria kill about 40 people. Boko Haram claims responsibility. 2012: Nigeria signs a preliminary $4.5 billion deal with US-based Vulcan Petroleum to build six oil refineries as a fallout of the nationwide fuel subsidy protest. A plane crash in Lagos kills all 152 passengers and 40 people on the ground. What memories do you have of Nigeria's 53 years of independence? Let us know in the comments!