Africa

1960-2015: The key moments that have shaped Nigeria

By Thomas Page, for CNN

Updated 11:57 AM ET, Thu October 1, 2015
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October 1 marks the anniversary of Nigeria's independence. Go through the gallery to look at some of the events that have shaped the country over the last 55 years. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
After gaining its independence in 1960, Nigeria becomes a republic in 1963, with Nnamdi Azikiwe assuming the role of president. Two years later a federal election takes place, but many question the transparency of the vote and suggest fraud. Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (pictured in the center) steps into the power vacuum and mounts a coup, starting what would become over three decades of intermittent military rule. Norman Potter/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Civil war breaks out after Lieut. Col. (later General) OdumegwuOjukwu declares the secession of the three states of the Eastern region under the name of the Republic of Biafra. Ethnic tensions between northern Hausas and southern Igbos is the primary cause. The war lasts for three years, ending with Biafra surrendering on January 11 1970. Between hostilities, disease and starvation, it is estimated between one-three million people die.

The oil boom that follows the conflict allows the government to consolidate its power and fund development programs. In 1974, General Gowon sets a date for returning power to civilians, but is overthrown before this can take place by Brigadier General Murtala Ramat Mohammed.
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Afrobeat star Fela Kuti (seen here being honored at the first MTV Music Awards for Africa, 2008) and his band Afrika '70 release "Zombie," a scathing attack on the Nigerian military -- the firebrand musician is a constant critic of the government. The authorities eventually retaliate, sending hundreds of troops to lay siege to Kuti's commune. His mother is thrown out of a window during the attack and subsequently dies, whilst the property is set on fire, destroying all of Kuti's instruments and master tapes. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
Wole Soyinka becomes the first black African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His work often tackles issues of oppression and he is a vocal critic of the military junta, currently overseen by General Ibrahim Babangida who had assumed power the year before. In the 1990s, Soyinka is forced to flee Nigeria after General Sani Abacha seizes power. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
Political activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others are executed, sparking international outcry and forcing the Commonwealth of Nations to suspend Nigeria's membership for violating human rights and the principals of democracy. The ban lasts until 1999. JOHNNY EGGITT/AFP/Getty Images
At the Atlanta Olympics, Nigeria stuns the world when its football team wins gold. The Super Eagles beat Brazil and Argentina along the road to glory, winning 3-2 in the final. PASCAL GEORGE/AFP/Getty Images
General Sani Abacha, the last of Nigeria's military rulers, dies in June. His successor General Abdulsalam Abubakar promises the swift transfer of power to civilians, with a fair and transparent election held in February the following year. Olusegun Obasanjo, imprisoned under the Abacha regime, stands for the PDP in the 1999 presidential election and wins with 63% of the vote.

The year also marks the death of M.K.O. Abiola. A prominent Yoruba businessman, he runs for president in 1993 and is the presumed winner. However the results are annulled by preceding military president General Babangida before they could be officially announced. Abiola is imprisoned in 1994, and dies in jail shortly after Abacha in suspicious circumstances.
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Agbani Darego wins Miss World, the first black African to do so. At the time the country is going through a series of reforms. Two years before, the first civilian leader in a generation, Olusegun Obabsanjo is elected, promising to tackle corruption and provide a more open form of government. YOAV LEMMER/AFP/Getty Images/file
After 13 years of bitter dispute, the Bakassi Peninsula is ceded to Cameroon in compliance with an International Court of Justice ruling. The decision causes consternation in Nigeria, but it complies, formally handing over power in 2006. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
Umaru Yar'Adua succeeds Olusegun Obasanjo in the presidential election -- it is the first time power is transferred between two civilians in the history of the Republic of Nigeria. WOLE EMMANUEL/AFP/Getty Images
Former Vice President Goodluck Jonathan is sworn in to office after the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua. He goes on to win the 2011 election with 59% of the vote. In January 2012, he faces criticism for removing fuel subsidies, causing the price of petrol to soar, a move that sparks the Occupy Nigeria movement. KOLAWOLE OSHIYEMI/AFP/Getty Images
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, becomes the continent's largest economy thanks to a long overdue "rebasing" of its GDP. EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/Getty Images
In April Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram kidnaps more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state. International outcry ensues across social media, but nearly over a year later the girls have yet to be released. TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images
Muhammadu Buhari, 72, is elected President in March after campaigning on promises to fight corruption and beat the terrorist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. He was sworn in on May 29 at a boisterous ceremony that marked the first peaceful transfer of power between rival parties in the nation. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images