History of Abuja

Published on 6th March 2007

Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria, with an estimated population of 5 million (est 2005). The city is bordered to the north by Kaduna State, to the east by Nassarawa State, to the south-west by Kogi State and to the west by Niger State. Prior to its creation, Nigeria was administered from LAGOS as its capital.

The land of Abuja was the southwestern part of the ancient kingdom of Zazzau (Zaria). The name "Abuja" was derived from Abu Ja, a brother to Muhammadu Makau, the last hausa ruler of Zaria. Makau had left Zaria after being defeated by the Fulani and settled in the area now known as Abuja. In 1825 his brother Abu Ja succeeded him as the 62nd King of Zaria. 

The full name of Abu Ja was Abubakar (shortened to "Abu") and the name Ja was given to him because he was light in complexion (in Hausa "Ja" means red or fair). He became known as "Abu-Ja", "Abu the fair one" (other sources claim that the name "Ja" was derived from the last name of his father which was "Jatau"). Abu Ja then built a new capital for his Kingdom and called it "Abuja". 

In August 1975 the then Federal Military Government under Late General Murtala Muhammed convened a panel of experts to study, advise or recommend on the desirability of retaining Lagos as the Federal Capital of Nigeria. The panel recommended several alternatives such as Okene, Kafanchan, Markurdi, Ile, Auchi and Agege were also suggested. 

The panel's recommendation for the setting up of the new Federal Capital City at Abuja was accepted and the Federal Government then promulgated Decree number 6 of 1976 which created the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. 

Abuja officially became Nigeria's capital on 12 December 1991. It is divided into six area councils namely: Abuja Municipal, Gwagwalada, Abaji, Kuje, Bwari and Kwali. The city is the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as its Military arm (ECOMOG). It also has the regional headquarters of OPEC.

Abuja is blessed with a mix of agricultural produce such as tubers and root crops such as yams, cassava, maize and plantains and grains like sorghum, guinea corn and rice. The FCT has proven deposits of a wide range of mineral resources including marble, tin, mica, clay, wolfromite, tantalite and talc. 

Abuja's feature is Aso Rock, a 400-metre monolith left by water erosion; the Presidential Complex, National Assembly, Supreme Court and much of the town extend to the south of the rock. The city hosts Nigerian National Mosque and the National Ecumenical Centre cathedral. It is served by the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. 



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