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Kwaraloaded Exclusive: HOW THE 36 NIGERIAN STATES GOT THEIR NAMES

Behind every state is a rich history and culture. Here’s how all the 36 Nigerian states got their names

1. Abia: Abia is an acronym derived from the four main groups of people who lived in the state as at the time it was formed. The groups include: Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato, Afikpo. Although Afikpo is now a part of Ebonyi state, it used to be part of Abia state at the time the state was named and formed.

2. Adamawa Adamawa was named after Modibbo Adama Bin Ardo Hassan, a warrior that conquered the region in the beginning of the 19th century.

3. Akwa-Ibom Akwa Ibom is named after the Qua Iboe (or Kwa Iboe) River.

4. Anambra The state got its name from the anglicized version of Oma Mbala (Ànyịm Ọma Mbala), a popular river in the area. The British had difficulties pronouncing Oma Mbala so they adapted it to English and the name Anambra was born.

5. Bauchi: There are two popular versions of how Bauchi got its name. First version says the state was named ‘Baushe’ after a famous hunter who settled there before the 19th century. The second version says tribes living in the southern parts of the Hausaland were referred to as “kasashen bauchi”, therefore, the area they lived became known simply as Bauchi.

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 Benue River.

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 state.

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: Just like what happened with Anambra state, the name 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: It was initially named ‘Ile Olokiti’ due to its many hills. Over time, the ‘Okiti’ blended to Ekiti which is the name the state bears today. 

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 area. 

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: The state was named after a blacksmith from the Gaya tribe who settled in the area while sourcing for ironstone.

20. Katsina: The state was named after the wife of Janzama, a popular local ruler at the time. Her name was Katsina.

21. Kebbi: It is said that Kebbi was named after the Ka’abba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. 

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 they found, they named it Lagos, which is the Portuguese word for ‘lakes’.

25. Nasarawa: Nasarawa 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 the 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 the Osun river.

30. Oyo: The state was named after the Old Oyo empire.

31. Plateau The state was named after the 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 area.

33. Sokoto: Sokoto is the anglicized version of the local name Sakkwato derived from 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 sub-dialects of the Eastern Hausa group.

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