By the end of the 19th century, Britain began an aggressive military expansion in the region. A protectorate was declared over northern Nigeria in 1900.
Despite the loss of sovereignty, the strong political and cultural traditions of these societies initially enabled many to accommodate nominal British rule with little change in their way of life.
Nigeria came under the colonial rule of the British (United Kingdom) during the second half of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century. The United Kingdom conquered the territory of present-day Nigeria, except for the section of former German-controlled Kamerun in several stages.
NIGERIA THEN AND NOW
The British dependencies of Northern and Southern Nigeria were merged into a single territory in 1914, and a legislative council, initially with limited African representation was created in 1922.
Traditional native rulers, however, administered various territories under the supervision of the colonial authorities. In 1947, a federal system of government was established under a new Nigerian constitution introduced by the United Kingdom.
This system was based on three regions: Eastern, Western and Northern. The idea was to reconcile the regional and religious tensions as well as accommodating the interest of diverse ethnic groups: mainly the Ibo (in the east), the Yoruba (in the west) and the Hausa and Fulani (in the north).
Nigeria was granted full independence in October 1960, as a federation of three regions (northern, western, and eastern) under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary form of government.
Under the constitution, each of the three regions retained a substantial measure of self-government.