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Quick Fact
Population: 4,171,104 (2006 census figures) - 11th of 37
Percentage of Nigeria's total population: 2.97%
Population density: 55 people per square kilometre - 34th of 37
Landmass: 75,540.9 square kilometres - 1st of 37
State capital: Maiduguri
Local Government Areas: 27
Current Governor: Babagana Umara Zulum


Borno is one of the six states that form the North East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. It shares international borders to the north with Niger and Chad, as well as with Cameroon to the east. Its southern and western borders are shared with AdamawaGombe and Yobe states. Maiduguri is its capital.

Land Mass, Location and Population
Borno State has an area of 75,540.9 square kilometres. It lies roughly at latitude 11°30’ north and longitude 13°00’ east. Its population is 4,171,104 (2006 census figures) with a population density of 60 people per square kilometre. It accounts for approximately 3 percent of Nigeria’s total population.

Main Cities and Towns
Maiduguri (capital city), Biu, Bama and Dikwa.

History and People

According to oral tradition, the first settlers of Borno State were the Teda (Tibesti), Kanuri and Kanembu who lived around the state’s lake and rivers. These people were also called Sao. The Sefawa later displaced them in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Borno State has its roots in the move by the Saifawa rulers (Mais) of Kanem to the area west of Lake Chad in the fourteenth century. These people were referred to as the people from Bahr-el Nur; this name was later corrupted to Borno. It was under the Mais that the Kanuri emerged as a nation. The Fulani jihad of the nineteenth century greatly weakened the authority of the Mais who were eventually displaced by Muhammed El-Amin lbn El-Kanemi, a Kanembu Islamic scholar who established the El-Kanemi dynasty, took the title of Shehu and transferred the capital to Kukawa. Rabeh, a Shuwa Arab, sacked much of Borno in 1893 and became its ruler, transferring the capital to Dikwa.

European colonisation in the last decade of the nineteenth century led to Rabeh's defeat and the dismemberment of the Borno Empire. Following its division between the British and the French at the turn of the twentieth century, Borno became part of Northern Nigeria. It was part of the Northern Region in the three-region structure of 1954 and part of North-Eastern State following the establishment of twelve federal states by General Yakubu Gowon’s military government. It was established as its own entity on February 3, 1976 following the dissolution of the North-Eastern State. Its borders were further adjusted when Yobe was excised from it in 1991.

Borno is heterogeneous with twenty-eight (mostly Chadic) languages spoken as first languages in the state. The Shuwa Arabs, Kanuri and Marghi are the most represented people in the state and Kanuri is its dominant language. Other ethnic groups include the Hausa, Fulani and a number of tribes from southern Nigeria. Islam is the most widely practised religion in the state. There is a Christian minority concentrated around Maiduguri.


Borno is primarily an agrarian society. The majority of the people are farmers, herdsmen and fishermen. There is also considerable local trade in sorghum, millet, corn (maize), rice, cotton and indigo. The state is the most important livestock-producing area in Nigeria, an industry dominated by the Fulani and Shuwa. Livestock (mainly cattle, but also goats and sheep), cattle hides, goatskins and sheepskins, finished leather products, dried fish, crocodile skins, peanuts (groundnuts) and gum arabic are all exported from its capital, Maiduguri. Cattle rearing and poultry farming take place in the surrounding countryside, as does fishing along the shores of Lake Chad and the Yedseram. Other local industries include cotton weaving, dyeing and the tanning of leather.
The mineral resources in the state include clay, salt, potash, limestone, kaolin, sandstone, iron ore, uranium, quartz, magnesite, mica and granite.

The tertiary institutions in the state include a federal university (University of Maiduguri); a state university (Borno State University, Maiduguri); a state polytechnic (Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri); two state colleges of education (Sir Kashim College of Education, Waka Biu and Umar Ibn Ibrahim El Kanemi College of Education, Science and Technology, Bama); the Mohammet Lawan College of Agriculture, Maiduguri; the Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic Studies (BOCOLIS); the Borno College of Agriculture and the Federal Staff Training Centre, Maiduguri.

Further Description

Governors and Administrators:

  • Musa Usman (Governor – Military): May 1967 – July 1975
  • Muhammadu Buhari (Governor – Military): July 1975 – March 1976
  • Mustapha A. Amin (Governor – Military): March 1976 – July 1978
  • Tunde Idiagbon (Governor – Military): July 1978 – October 1979
  • Mohammed Goni (Governor – Civilian (Great Nigerian People’s Party)): October 1979 – October 1983
  • Asheik Jarma (Governor – Civilian (Nigerian People’s Party)): October 1983 –December 1983
  • Abubakar Waziri (Governor – Military): January 1984 – August 1985
  • Abdulmumini Aminu (Governor – Military): August 1985 – December 1987
  • Abdul One Mohammed (Governor – Military): December 1987 – December 1989
  • Mohammed Maina (Governor – Military): December 1989 – June 1990
  • Mohammed Buba Marwa (Governor – Military): June 1990 – January 1992
  • Maina Maaji Lawan (Governor – Civilian (Social Democratic Party)): January 1992 – November 1993
  • Ibrahim Dada (Administrator – Military): December 1993 – August 1996
  • Victor Ozodinobi (Administrator – Military): August 1996 May –1997
  • Augustine Aniebo (Administrator – Military): May 1997 – August 1998
  • Lawal Haruna (Administrator – Military): August 1998 – May 1999
  • Mala Kachalla (Governor – Civilian (All People’s Party; All Nigeria People’s Party)): May 1999 – May 2003
  • Ali Modu Sheriff (Governor – Civilian (All Nigeria People’s Party)): May 2003 – May 2011
  • Kashim Shettima (Governor – Civilian (All Nigeria People’s Party)): May 2011 – May 2019
  • Babagana Umara Zulum (Governor – Civilian (All Nigeria People’s Party)): May 2019 – Present

Emirate Councils:

  • Borno Emirate
  • Dikwa Emirate
  • Biu Emirate
  • Askira Emirate
  • Gwoza Emirate
  • Shani Emirate
  • Ubar Emirate

Local Government Areas:

  • Abadam
  • Askira/Uba
  • Bama
  • Bayo
  • Biu
  • Chibok
  • Damboa
  • Dikwa
  • Gubio
  • Guzamala
  • Gwoza
  • Hawul
  • Jere
  • Kaga
  • Kala/Balge
  • Konduga
  • Kukawa
  • Kwaya Kusar
  • Mafa
  • Magumeri
  • Maiduguri
  • Marte
  • Mobbar
  • Monguno
  • Ngala
  • Nganzai
  • Shani


Notable Indigene

Mallam Aliyu Mai-Bornu was the first indigenous governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Did You Know

The Kanem-Bornu Empire, of which the Kanuri people were a part, is believed to have been the first state founded in the area occupied by Nigeria. Its history goes back to the eighth century AD