There are three major ethnic groups in Nigeria – Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo and each of these three major ethnic groups is predominantly settled in a specific region of the country. For instance, you will find the Yoruba people primarily in the South west while Igbo people are located primarily in the South East. Also, the Hausa tribe is predominantly found in the North.
In this post, we take a look at the Yoruba states and how they have maintained the Yoruba ethnicity over the years.
But first let’s take a look at the history of the Yoruba people.
The Yoruba people existed as far back as the 7th century but they were not initially known as the Yoruba until the 8th century when a powerful Yoruba kingdom existed in Ile Ife and it was said to be one of the earliest kingdoms in Africa.
Based on oral history, the Oyo Empire derives the Yoruba ethnic group from the population of the older kingdom of Ile-Ife and this group grew over the years to become the dominant cultural force in southern Nigeria by the 11th century.
It is said that the Yoruba are among the most urbanized people in Africa. As a matter of fact, many centuries before the arrival of the British colonial administration most Yoruba already lived in well structured urban centres organized around powerful city-states (Ìlú) centred around the residence of the Oba.
List of Yoruba States in Nigeria
Some of the Yoruba cities worthy of note are Ibadan, one of the major Yoruba cities, was the largest city in the whole of Sub Saharan Africa and Lagos popularly called Eko which is the largest city on the African continent.
Now, let’s take a look at the Yoruba states in Nigeria
Popularly called Eko in Yoruba, Lagos is located in the South western geopolitical zone.
The state is said to be the most populous urban centre in Nigeria and in Africa.
Lagos is a major financial centre and is said to have the highest GDP in Africa. One of the busiest ports in Africa is located in Lagos.
The Lagos State Government estimates the state’s population at 22 million people although the UN estimates seems to be more conservative putting it at 14 million people.
Some of the popular areas in Lagos include Lekki, Ikeja, Victoria Island, Lagos Island, Surulere, Ikorodu, Badagry, Epe, Ojo and Apapa.
The history of this state can be traced to the ancient Oyo Empire. The state was formed from the Western state in 1976 and initially included Osun state. Osun state was created as a new state in 1991.
Some of the notable cities and towns in Oyo state include Ọyọ, Ogbomọsọ, Isẹyin, kishi, Okeho, Saki, Eruwa, Iroko, Lanlate, Oje-Owode, Sepeteri, Ilora, Awe, Ilero, Igbeti, Igboho and Igbo-Ora, Out.
Oyo state is home to the first univesity in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan formerly called the University College Ibadan due to its affiliation to the University College, London during the colonial and some part of the post colonial era.
The capital city of Oyo state, Ibadan is also home to the first skyscaper in Africa, the Cocoa House.
Created in 1976, Ogun state is another one of the Yoruba states. The slogan of the state is Gateway to Nigeria as it shares borders with the Republic of Benin.
The most popular city in Ogun state is Abeokuta. Other towns and cities include Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Imusin, Sagamu, Ijebu Igbo, Ogere Remo, Iperu, Ilisan Remo, Ikenne, Ilaro, Ayetoro, Agbado, Akute and Ota.
Ekiti is located in the South Western and it is the youngest of the South Western. It was created on the 1st of October 1996 alongside five other states in the country by the military under the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha.
The state was carved out of the old Ondo state. there is a particular town in Ekiti state, Okemesi which is reputed to have over 30 professors, several pioneer academics also hail from the state, including Adegoke Olubummo (one of the first Nigerian professors in the field of mathematics) and Ekundayo Adeyinka Adeyemi (first Professor of Architecture in Africa, south of the Sahara). Other professors from the state include J. F. Ade Ajayi, Niyi Osundare, Sam Aluko and Prof A. A. Agboola.
The state is home to Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) located in Ado Ekiti. Established in 2009 by the legal luminary, Afe Babalola, the university was recently named the best private university by Webometric and the second best university in the country.
Ondo was created from the Western state in 1976. The ethnic composition of the state is primarily Yoruba. Other subgroups include the Akoko, Akure, Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ondo, and Owo peoples. Ijaw such as Apoi and Arogbo populations inhabit the coastal areas.
Located in Northern Nigeria, Kwara is made up of several ethnic groups, Yoruba, Nupe, Baripa and Fulani. However, the Yoruba is the primary ethnic group.
Created on the 27th of May 1967, Kwara State is made up of the former Ilorin and Kabba provinces of the then Northern Region.
The state was initially named the West Central State but later changed to “Kwara”, a local name for the River Niger.
Kwara state has since 1976 reduced considerably in size as a result of further state creation exercises in Nigeria. On 13 February 1976, the Idah/Dekina part of the state was carved out and merged with a part of the then Benue/Plateau State to form Benue state.
According to the population census of 2006, the population of Kwarans was 2.37 million based on the Nigeria 2006 Census.
This population size constitutes about 1.69% of the ation’s total population having relied upon immigration for population growth and socioeconomic development.
The list is incomplete without Osun state. The capital of the state, Ile Ife is said to be the cradle of Yoruba race.