How Nigeria’s 36 states got their names

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Abia

Abia is an acronym derived from the name of the four main groups of people in the state as at the time it was formed in 1991: A ba B ende I suikwuato A fikpo

 

Adamawa

This state was named after a warrior that conquered the region in the begining of the 19th century. His name was Modibbo Adama Bin Ardo Hassan.

 

Akwa-Ibom

Akwa Ibom is named after a river, the Qua Iboe (or Kwa Iboe) River

 

Anambra

It was derived from the name of the Oma Mbala (Omambala) River (in Ibo, the native name of the river is Ànyịm Ọma Mbala).

 

Bauchi

There are three versions of how Bauchi got its name. One version says ‘Bauchi’ is Hausa word meaning the southern flanks of Hausaland. Tribes living in the southern parts of the Hausaland were referred to as kasashen bauchi and the area they lived in later came to be known simply as Bauchi. According to the second version the state was named after Baushe, a famous hunter who settled there before the 19th century while the third states that ‘bauchi’ is Hausa word for slavery since it was a center for slave raiders.

 

Bayelsa

Bayelsa was formed as a result of the clamour from the three LGAs in old Rivers (Brass LGA known as BALGA, Yenegoa LGA known as YELGA and Sagbama LGA – SALGA). The name came about from the combination of their acronymns. BA + YEL + SA = BAYELSA

 

Benue

It is a word from the Batta language ‘Binuwe’ which means ‘Mother of Waters’.

 

Borno

The name was derived from ‘Borno’, an alternative name of the Kanuris who form the predominant ethnic group in the state.

 

Cross River

The state took its name from a River called Oyono or Cross River

 

Delta

It was named for the delta of the River Niger formed as it enters the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Ebonyi

The state was named after the Aboine River that cuts through Abakaliki, the state capital

 

Edo

Named after the Bini people who had always referred to themselves as Edo or Iduu

 

Ekiti

‘Ekiti’ is a term that is said to denote a settlement of many hills

 

Enugu

Enugu derived its name from two local words enu ugwu which means ‘top of the hill’

 

Gombe

Named after the dialect of Fulani language (Fulfulde)spoken in the area ‘Gombe’.

 

Imo

This state is named after the Imo River (Imo Mmiri)

 

Jigawa

The state was named after its distinctively golden-coloured soil, Jigawa.

 

Kaduna

The state was named after the crocodiles in Kaduna River. Kadunas is Hausa plural word for crocodiles

 

Kano

The state was named after a blacksmith of the Gaya tribe who settled in the area while sourcing for ironstone. His name is Kano.

 

Katsina

Katsina was named after the wife of the local ruler known as Janzama. Her name was Katsina.

 

Kebbi

Legend has it that Kebbi was named after the Ka’abba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

 

Kogi

The name Kogi was said to have be derived from ‘kogin’, hausa for river. This is to represent the fact that the two biggest Rivers in Nigeria, River Niger and River Benue form a confluence in the state.

 

Kwara

This was named after the River Niger which forms the Northern border of the state. The Nupes used to call the river Kwara.

 

Lagos

The name is a Portuguese word for lakes. The Portuguese were the first set of Europeans to reach Lagos in 1472. The name was inspired by the lagoons and rivers in Lagos.

 

Nassarawa

It was so named by the founder of Nasarawa kingdom, Makama Dogo. Nasarawa means Victorious.

Niger

Named after the popular River Niger.

 

Ogun

Named after the Ogun River

 

Ondo

This was named after the settlers of the old Ondo Kingdom. Ondo is a word for settlers.

 

Osun

Like a number of other Nigerian states, it was also named after a river; River Osun.

 

Oyo

It was named after the Old Oyo empire.

 

Plateau

The state was named for the Jos Plateau

 

Rivers

A state with many water bodies, Rivers State was named for many of the rivers present in the area

 

Sokoto

Named after the defunct Sokoto Caliphate. Sokoto is the anglicized version of the Arabic word ‘suk’ which means ‘market’ or ‘place of commerce’.

 

Taraba

The state was named after the Taraba River.

 

Yobe

The state was named after Komadugu Yobe (Waube or Ouobe)…….

 

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