As the country winds up for one of the biggest elections in the nation’s history, competition is stiffer than ever. We at Experiencing Naija shift our sights to or national grouping and provide a quick and easy insight to the purport and purpose on the six geopolitical zones.
Nigeria as a country is a Federal Republic comprising of thirty six states and its Federal Capital territory. In addition, Nigeria is made up of approximately 400 ethnic groups and 450 languages necessitating the government to merge similar groups for effective allocation of resources.
A geopolitical zone, commonly called Zones is an administrative division of Nigerian states in which power could be rotated amongst regions for equity purposes and gives every region a sense of belonging. The Nigerian geopolitical structure affects several of the country’s major sectors such as the educational, political and economic resources and even the political parties.
The idea of zoning in the country was birthed by Nigeria’s former Vice President Sir Alex Ekwueme during the 1995 Constitutional Conference with the motive of breaking the dominance of one region in Nigeria’s political landscape. The idea came to fruition when that same year, the then President of the country General Sani Abacha made an announcement dividing the country into six geopolitical zones
Although this grouping is not mentioned in the country’s current constitution, it is crucial to the delineation of power in the country. There has been robust agitation by Nigeria’s key political figures to include the geopolitical zones into the Nigerian constitution but there is no denying that the effect of this practice is felt throughout the Federation.
Nigeria is grouped into six geopolitical zones, which are
- North Central (NC)
- North East (NE)
- North West (NW)
- South South (SS)
- South East (SE) and
- South West (SW)
North Central (NC) has a total number of seven states. North Central states consists of Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau States as well as Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Popularly referred to as the Middle Belt this region is characterised by its lack of a clear majority ethnic group. In terms of population, it is predicted that there are over 45 million people living in the middle belt region. The Middle Belt consists of many ethnic groups speaking over 230 languages. The Middle Belt has been the melting pot where small and large ethno-religious groups in Nigeria have long coexisted, but where they have also increasingly collided over land, resources, identity and political power. Major cities in the North Central Nigeria include Jos, Lokoja, Makurdi, Lafia, Otukpo etc.
North East (NE) consists of six states which are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States. Like other parts of the country this region practices agriculture especially livestock rearing and animal husbandry. Geographically, the North East is the largest geopolitical zone in the nation, covering nearly one-third of Nigeria’s total area. In terms of the environment, the zone is primarily divided between the semi-desert Sahelian savanna and the tropical West Sudanian savannah ecoregions. The region has a population of about 26 million people, around 12% of the total population of the country. Maiduguri and Bauchi are the most populous cities in the North East. It houses major cities such as Gombe, Yola, Jimeta, Potiskum and Jalingo.
North West (NW) consists of seven states namely Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States. According to the National Population Commission’s 2006 census, the North West is Nigeria’s most populated zone. Geographically, the zone is almost entirely within the tropical West Sudanian savannah ecoregion. Culturally, the majority of the zone falls within Hausaland–the indigenous cultural homeland of the Hausa people, a group which makes up the largest ethnic percentage of the north-western population; however, there are sizable minorities of Fulani people and other groups, mainly on the zone’s peripheries. Economically, the North West’s urban areas–like the city of Kano–are large boosts to the Nigerian economy while most rural areas lag behind due to insecurity, low education rates, and government neglect. The region has a population of about 49 million people, around 23% of the total population of the country. Popular cities in the North West include Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Zaria, Gusau etc.
South South (SS) also known as the Niger Delta region consists of six states which are, Akwa Ibom Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States. It is the nation’s acclaimed oil producing zone with major cities such as Warri, Port Harcourt, Yenegoa, Asaba, Calabar, Uyo etc. The South South Region was created from both the Western and Eastern regions of Nigeria on 27 May 1967, by the regime of General Yakubu Gowon. Edo and Delta states formerly Bendel state from the Western region, while Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross river states from the Eastern region. The zone stretches along the Atlantic seaboard from the Bight of Benin coast in the west to the Bight of Bonny coast in the east. Although the South South represents only ~5% of Nigerian territory, it contributes greatly to the Nigerian economy due to extensive oil and natural gas reserves. The region has a population of about 26 million people, around 12% of the total population of the country. Popular Nigerian cities in that region include Port Harcourt, Benin City, Warri, Calabar, Asaba, Uyo etc
South East (SE) consists of five states which are Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. This zone is an Igbo language dominated zone with major cities such as Awka, Owerri, Enugu, Aba, Abakaliki etc. Although the South East is the smallest geopolitical zone, it contributes greatly to the Nigerian economy due to oil and natural gas reserves along with a growing industrialized economy. The South East came about with Alex Ekwueme’s recommendations, although is formerly known as Eastern Nigeria or simply East, following the division of the country into three parts in 1950s. In 1967 it was later split into three under the Gowon Administration (1967-1975). It was in 1976 that more states, including Imo and Anambra began to emerge.
South West (SW) consists of six states namely Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo States. This zone is a predominantly Yoruba speaking region with major cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Oshogbo etc. The zone stretches along the Atlantic seaboard from the international border with Benin Republic in the west to the South South in the east with the North Central to the north. Economically, the South West’s urban areas–mainly the cities of Lagos and Ibadan–contributes greatly to the Nigerian economy while rural areas lag behind. The region has a population of about 47 million people, around 22% of the total population of the country. Lagos is the most populous city in the South West as well as the most popular city in Nigeria and the second most populous city in Africa.
The issue of zoning has been widely discussed in the wake of the election preparation that has swept the country for the purpose of power rotation. After the Nigerian National election of 2023, pertinent issues in the country such as resource allocation could encourage further discourse involving the country’s geopolitical zones.
What geopolitical zone do you come from? Can you tell us something unique to your political zone? Please respond in the comments and be sure to keep the conversation going on all our social media platforms.