6 Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria and their States

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Nigeria being one of the most diverse and populous countries in West Africa is divided into six geopolitical zones, each comprising several states. This administrative structure was designed to foster better governance, coordination, and resource allocation.

In this blog post, we will explore Nigeria’s geopolitical zones and provide a brief overview of the states within each zone — what kind of activities are common, which tribes are dominant e.t.c To aid your visualization, we will also include a map showing the boundaries of the six Nigerian geographical zones.

When were the Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria created?

All six geographical zones in Nigeria were created during General Sani Abacha’s regime. They were created by the General in 1993 to be precise. His main goal in creating these administrative zones was to help streamline the way the government was structured.

How many Geopolitical Zones are in Nigeria?

As was earlier mentioned, Nigeria is divided into six geopolitical zones, namely: 

  1. North-Central: Plateau, Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa, Kogi, Benue and Abuja (FCT)
  2. North-East: Taraba, Bauchi, Gombe State, Adamawa State, Borno State, Yobe State
  3. North-West: Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa and Kebbi State
  4. South-East: Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu State
  5. South-South: Edo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Delta State
  6. South-West: Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo State

Each zone plays a crucial role in the country’s governance, cultural diversity, and economic activities. They also help to foster equitable development nationwide. Within every geopolitical zone, there are multiple states with distinct characteristics and cultural diversity.

Now, let’s take an elaborate look at the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and their states.

1. North-Central

Also known as the middle-belt zone, the North-central zone lies at the heart of the Nigerian map. This zone stretches to the country’s border with Benin in the west. 

The main ecological area in the region is the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, with a small part in the savanna region. About 20 million people live in this zone, making up approximately 11% of the country’s population. Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is the largest city in this area. 

The North-central zone is primarily agricultural, with farming being the main source of employment. There are only a few commercial hubs, including both modern and local markets. The region grows various crops such as yam, rice, sorghum, maize, acha, sesame seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Plateau state is particularly notable for being the leading producer of Irish Potatoes in the country and a major supplier of poultry products to northern Nigerian cities. Additionally, each state in the region has significant deposits of solid minerals.

The North-central consists of six states and the FCT:

  • Plateau State
  • Niger State
  • Kwara State
  • Nasarawa State
  • Koji Stare
  • Benue State
  • Abuja (Federal Capital Territory)

2. North-East

The North-East region is Nigeria’s largest geopolitical zone, covers nearly a third of the country’s landmass and has a population of around 26 million people, constituting about 12% of Nigeria’s total population. Major cities include Bauchi and Maiduguri.

Geographically, the North East features both a vast Sahara Desert area and lush tropical vegetation with tree-filled savannahs. The region is home to diverse wildlife, including endangered species like the African Wild Dog, various antelope species, and numerous birds of prey.

In terms of population, the Northeast is home to approximately 26 million people, with Bauchi and Maiduguri being the most populous cities.

Economically, the region has a diverse agricultural base, cultivating crops like cotton and peanuts due to favourable soil and climate conditions. The mining sector is also active, extracting resources such as gold, iron ore, columbite-tantalite, lead-zinc ore, limestone, and coal.

In summary, the North-East region offers both natural beauty and business opportunities with its diverse geography and economic activities, though recently the region has been plagued by terrorism and insecurity.

The North-East consists of six states:

  • Taraba State
  • Bauchi State
  • Gombe State
  • Adamawa State
  • Borno State
  • Yobe State

3. North-West

The North-West region is situated in northwest Nigeria and is one of the country’s largest geographical zones, primarily characterized by savanna ecology. The Hausa people, the largest ethnic group in this region, inhabit much of the area. 

Kano City, a major economic contributor to Nigeria, is located in the North-West. Despite economic prosperity in urban centres like Kano and Kaduna, rural areas in the region face challenges in resource allocation, literacy rates, and security. Comprising seven states – Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kebbi – the North West has a population exceeding 49 million people.

Economically, the North-West is vital to Nigeria, with major activities being large-scale farming, livestock rearing, and small-scale trading. These activities not only cater to the region’s needs but also contribute to other parts of Nigeria and international markets through exports. Overall, the North West plays a significant role in Nigeria’s economic landscape.

The North-West consists of seven states:

  • Kaduna state
  • Zamfara State
  • Katsina State
  • Kano State
  • Sokoto State
  • Jigawa State
  • Kebbi State

4. South-East

Bounded by the Cross River to the east, the North Central to the north, the Niger Delta to the south, and the River Niger to the west, the South-East region is one of Nigeria’s most populous geopolitical zones. Comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states, it houses over 22 million people, accounting for about 20% of Nigeria’s population.

Primarily inhabited by Igbo-speaking people, the Southeast is celebrated for its rich culture and traditional music. Noteworthy attractions include the National Museum in Enugu and the Imo Safari Park, with key cities being Aba, Awka, and Owerri. The region is famous for traditional festivals like the New Yam Festival and Igbo Ukwu Festival.

Despite being the smallest in landmass, the South-East is a major contributor to Nigeria’s economy, boasting vast reserves of natural gas and oil. The region is also industrially advanced, offering a distinctive cultural experience that stands out globally.

The South-East consists of five states:

  • Abia State
  • Imo State
  • Anambra State
  • Ebonyi State
  • Enugu State

5. South-South

The South-West region spans from the Niger Delta Zone in the east to the Benin Republic border in the west and features mangrove forests in the east and south and a forest savanna in the northwest. 

Home to significant oil and gas deposits, this region has a population of 26 million, constituting about 12% of Nigeria’s total population. Notable metropolitan areas include Greater Port Harcourt, Ikom, Warri, Sapele, Ikot, and Ughelli. The states in this region are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers.

Economically, the South-South Zone relies heavily on oil production, contributing about 40% of Nigeria’s proven oil reserves. While facing challenges in electricity and infrastructure, the region has a growing agricultural sector. 

Geographically divided into the Niger Delta region in the east and the coastal region in the west, it encompasses major rivers and wetlands like Rivers Niger and Benue, serving as vital sources of food, water, transport, and fuel for local communities.

The South-South consists of seven states:

  • Edo State
  • Akwa Ibom State
  • Rivers State
  • Bayelsa State
  • Cross River State
  • Delta State

6. South-West

The South-West region extends from the Niger Delta Zone in the east to the Benin Republic border in the west, featuring mangrove forests in the east and south and a forest savanna in the northwest. Culturally dominated by Yorubaland, the Yoruba people constitute the largest ethnic group in the South-West. 

Notably, the region houses populous cities like Ibadan and Lagos, making it a bustling hub of economic activity. With a population of 47 million, it accounts for nearly 22% of Nigeria’s total population. Lagos Metropolitan Area, the eighth-largest globally, holds around 21 million people. The states in this region are Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, and Oyo.

Lagos, the most populous state, is renowned for its vibrant energy and economic opportunities. Ogun, with numerous industrial factories, is an industrial hub. Ekiti, east of Ogun, is recognized for its fertile agricultural lands producing crops like corn and cassava.

Ondo, to the east, boasts tourist attractions such as Igbokoda Beach and Idanre Hill. Osun’s capital, to the north, is a historic city featuring ancient churches and temples like those in Osogbo Sacred Grove. 

Lastly, Oyo in the northwest hosts popular festivals, including the Egungun festivals celebrated by Yoruba communities across Nigeria annually.

The South-West consists of six states:

  • Oyo State
  • Osun State
  • Ogun State
  • Lagos State
  • Ekiti State
  • Ondo State

Advantages of Geo-Political Zones System in Nigeria

1. Improved Representation: The geo-political zones system in Nigeria enhances representation by allowing for a more localized and focused approach to governance, addressing the unique needs and concerns of diverse regions.

2. Better Administration: The division into geo-political zones facilitates more efficient administrative structures, making it easier for the government to implement policies, allocate resources, and address issues at a regional level.

3. Boost in Economic Development: The system fosters targeted economic development as it enables the formulation of region-specific strategies, leveraging local resources and strengths to promote sustainable growth and prosperity.

4. Increased Communication: The geo-political zones framework promotes better communication and coordination between the federal and regional governments, leading to more effective implementation of policies and programs.

5. Improved Unity: By recognizing and respecting the diversity of Nigeria’s regions, the geo-political zones system contributes to national unity by fostering a sense of inclusivity and shared governance, mitigating potential disparities and fostering a more cohesive nation.

Answers to FAQs

Which geopolitical zone in Nigeria is the smallest in land mass in Nigeria?

The south-east is the smallest in Nigeria in terms of landed area. However, the zone contributes greatly to the Nigerian economy due to oil and natural gas reserves along with a growing industrialized economy.

Which geopolitical zone in Nigeria is the largest in land mass in Nigeria?

Geographically, the North East is the largest geopolitical zone in the nation, covering nearly one-third of Nigeria’s total area

What is the most populated geopolitical zone in Nigeria?

North Western zone is the most populated geopolitical zone in Nigeria followed by the South Western.

How many Geopolitical Zones are in Nigeria?

There are six (6) Geographical Zones in Nigeria. Namely: North-central, North-West, North-East, South-East, South-West, South-South.

What is the meaning of the geopolitical zone in Nigeria?

Geopolitical zones are divisions in the country designed to unite people and facilitate governance. These zones consist of states with shared cultural, historical, and environmental traits.

Who created the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and what year?

General Sani Abacha created six geopolitical zones in Nigeria in 1993

Which geopolitical zone has 7 states in Nigeria?

North-West Nigeria is one of the geopolitical zones of Nigeria, consisting of the following 7 states; Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara. The North-West zone is the geopolitical zone that has the highest number of states in Nigeria.

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Pius Bulus Rekwi February 12, 2024 Reply

Nice Information to thee.

Abdulbasit Toriola February 17, 2024 Reply

Glad this helped you, Pius!

Vickie February 16, 2024 Reply

Beautiful Nigeria

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