History: How All The Current 36 Nigerian States Got Their Names

From names of rivers to popular heroes, see how all the 36
Nigerian states got their names.
1. Abia
Abia is an acronym from the four main groups of people in the
state as at the time it was formed in 1991: Aba Bende Isuikwuato
2. Adamawa
Adamawa was named after a warrior, Modibbo Adama Bin Ardo
Hassan, that conquered the region in the beginning of the 19th
3. Akwa-Ibom
Akwa Ibom is named after the Qua Iboe (or Kwa Iboe) River.
4. Anambra
The state got its name from the corrupted version of Oma Mbala
(Ànyịm Ọma Mbala), a popular river in the area.
5. Bauchi
There are three versions of how Bauchi got its name are:
‘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. The second version the state was named
for Baushe, a famous hunter who settled there before the 19th
century. The third states that ‘bauchi’ is Hausa word for slavery
since it was a center for slave raiders.
6. Bayelsa
Bayelsa is a combination of the acronyms of three local
government areas which were pulled out of old Rivers state —
Brass LGA known as BALGA, Yenegoa LGA known as YELGA and
Sagbama LGA known as SALGA. The mathematics involved in the
formation of their names is BA + YEL + SA = BAYELSA
7. Benue
The state was named after the “europeanised” corruption of
‘Binuwe’, the Batta word for ‘Mother of Waters’.
8. Borno
The alternative name of the Kanuris, the predominant ethnic group
in the state, is ‘Borno’ which gave inspiration for the naming of the


9. Cross River
The state took its name from a River called Oyono or Cross River.
10. Delta
The state is where the River Niger forms a delta as it enters the
Atlantic Ocean.
11. Ebonyi
Ebonyi is the anglicised version of ‘Aboine’, a river that cuts
through Abakaliki, the state capital.
12. Edo
The Bini people who dwell in the area had always referred to
themselves as Edo or Iduu. This inspired the name of the state.
13. Ekiti
‘Okiti’ is a term that is said to denote a settlement of many hills. It
later became ‘Ekiti’.
14. Enugu
Due to the many hills and rocky terrain in the area, the people
named it in igbo, “Enu Ugwu” meaning “top of the hill”. The state is
named after the anglicised version, Enugu.
15. Gombe
Gombe is the dialect of Fulani language (Fulfulde) spoken in the
16. Imo
Just like many of the Nigerian states, Imo took its name from the
popular river, Imo Mmiri.
17. Jigawa
Jigawa takes inspiration from its distinctively golden-coloured soil.
18. Kaduna
‘Kadunas’ is the plural form of crocodile in Hausa. The state
therefore got its name from the many crocodiles in Kaduna River.
19. Kano
Kano was the name of a blacksmith from the Gaya tribe who
settled in the area while sourcing for ironstone. The state was
named after him.
20. Katsina
The state was named after the wife of a popular local ruler known
as Janzama. Her name was Katsina.
21. Kebbi
It is said that Kebbi was named after the Ka’abba in Mecca, Saudi
22. Kogi
Since the popular confluence in Nigeria is located in the state, Kogi
is said to have been derived from ‘kogin’, the hausa word for river.
23. Kwara
River Niger used to be called River Kwara by the Nupes at the
Northern border of the state. The state was named after this.
24. Lagos
In 1472, the first set of Europeans to set foot in Lagos were the
Portuguese. Due to the many lagoons and rivers in the town, they
named it Lagos, which is the Portuguese word for ‘lakes’.
25. Nassarawa
Nassarawa is a native word for ‘victorious’. The state was named
by the founder of Nasarawa kingdom, Makama Dogo.
26. Niger
This was named after the River Niger.
27. Ogun
This state was also named after a river — Ogun River.
28. Ondo
Ondo is a word used for settlers. The state was named after the
settlers of the old Ondo Kingdom.
29. Osun
This state was also named after a river — the River Osun.
30. Oyo
The state was named after the Old Oyo empire.
31. Plateau
The state was named after the picturesque Jos plateau. Jos got its
name from the mispronunciation of the town ‘Gwosh’.
32. Rivers
Rivers State was named after the many water bodies present in the
33. Sokoto
Sokoto is the anglicized version of the Arabic word ‘suk’ meaning
‘market’ or ‘place of commerce’. The state itself was named after
the defunct Sokoto Caliphate.
34. Taraba
Taraba state got its name from the Taraba River.
35. Yobe
Komadugu Yobe (Waube or Ouobe) or River Yobe (or River of Yo)
inspired the name of the state.
36. Zamfara
This state was named after Zamfarawa, one of the subdialects of
the Eastern Hausa.

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  1. Cool history

  2. Very nice update

  3. Good

  4. Right

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