Lagos Commonwealth Walkway

Nigeria / Africa

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is the most populous country in Africa.  Situated between the Sahel to the north, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south in the Atlantic Ocean, it covers an area of 923,769 square kilometres and has a population of over 211 million.  Nigeria is a Federal Republic comprising of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.   Nigeria’s first modern state originated with British colonialization in the 19th century, taking its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914 by Lord Lugard (1858-1945), the Governor General.  He had been responsible for some brutal quelling of northern tribes in 1902, but he was keen on local administrations under his overall more distant control.  Administrative and legal structures were set up with indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms in the Nigeria region.  It was said of Lugard: ‘His ultimate objective was to prepare the African people for self-rule under a tutelage which would assist them to develop their own characteristic institutions without premature modernization by European influences.’  It was his wife, Lady Lugard (1852-1929), the well-known journalist, Fiona Shaw, who was inspired to give Nigeria its name. As Independence approached, the hindrance was that there were three Regional Governments, the Northern, Western and Eastern as well as the Federal Government.  It was important to achieve Federal unity.  The Northern Region wanted the British to continue to help them.  They consisted of over half the population.  The Ibos to the East and the Yorubas to the West were keen to take the reins themselves.  The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh paid a three-week visit to Nigeria in order to smooth the transition and get the various governments working together in a framework of government with her as its head. Since June 1955 Sir James Robertson (1899-1983) had been Governor-General.  One problem with the visit was whether The Queen could visit the Gold Coast where the political situation was particularly unstable.  In Lagos, the Queen opened the new Court of Appeal building and stressed: ‘The rule of law is vital to the freedom and orderly progress of any society and we take special pride in the fact that in our Commonwealth the rule of law is maintained and that all men are equal in the eyes of the law.’ The Queen and Prince Philip then travelled inland to Kaduna, the capital of the Northern Region, where they witnessed a spectacular Durbar.  They made a circular tour back to the coast at Calabar and Port Harcourt.  They went to Ibadan, the capital of the Western Region and up to Kano, a walled city in the northernmost part of Nigeria before returning to Lagos for the flight home.  On her return to London, The Queen ended her speech with the hope that Nigeria would remain within the Commonwealth.  This tour was followed in November 1957 by a 12-day visit by her aunt, Princess Royal to open the new University College Hospital in Ibadan.  The Queen’s aunt then attended self-government celebrations in Western Nigeria.  In 1959 her uncle, The Duke of Gloucester represented the Queen at similar celebrations in Northern Nigeria.  These visits heralded full Independence for Nigeria on 1 October 1960 at which Princess Alexandra represented the Queen, handing sovereignty to Sir Abubaker Tafawa Balewa (1912-66).  Nigeria immediately joined the United Nations and the Commonwealth.  Nigeria experienced a civil war from 1967 to 1970, followed by a succession of democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships, until achieving a stable democracy in the 1999 presidential election.  The three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa in the north, Yoruba in the west, and Igbo in the east, together comprising over 60% of the total population.  The official language is English, chosen to facilitate linguistic unity at the national level.  Nigeria's constitution ensures freedom of religion, and it is home to some of the world's largest Muslim and Christian populations.  Nigeria's economy is the largest in Africa, the 25th largest in the world by nominal GDP, and the 25th largest by PPP.  Nigeria is often referred to as the Giant of Africa owing to its large population and economy, it is also considered to be an emerging market by the World Bank.  Fun facts:  Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and further boasts Africa’s largest economy.  Lagos: Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and the second most populous city in Africa, and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world with a population of 15.3 million (in 2022).  It is a major African financial centre and is the economic hub of Lagos State and Nigeria.  It is also one of the top ten world's fastest-growing cities.  The megacity has the fourth-highest GDP in Africa and houses one of the largest and busiest seaports on the continent.  Lagos initially emerged as a home to the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba of West Africa and later emerged as a port city that originated on a collection of islands.  The islands are separated by creeks, fringing the southwest mouth of Lagos Lagoon while being protected from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands and long sand spits.  Due to rapid urbanisation, the city expanded to the west of the lagoon, which led to the classification of Lagos into two main areas - the Island, which was the original city of Lagos, and the Mainland.

3.2 miles / 5.1 kilometres

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