Wednesday 13 April 2022


The History of Kaduna is generally related with power, struggle, and dominance. This is because it is considered the headquarters of Politics, Military Formations, and the Centre of Learning in Nigeria. Generally, it has been established that Kaduna is a term derived from the Hausa term ‘Kadduna’ to mean crocodiles. Although some scholars believe that it had been in existence since the 14th century AD. However, writing of Smith suggests that it may have been peopled even much earlier, thus making it belong to the area that experienced further influx as a result of tectonic changes experienced during one of the earliest changes in climatic conditions. Much of what is known of the area, especially in the area of power and administration became clearer with the arrival of the British in the 20th century when it was made a garrison town for the WAFF and later a capital city for the colonial government in Northern Nigeria. In this way, Kaduna was a city founded to play dual roles: a military garrison and a political headquarter. By the end of the twentieth century, it has become the headquarters of most military formations in Nigeria.

This includes HQ Garrison Mechanized Division, Nigerian Army, HQ Training Command, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Defence Academy, Defence Industries Corporation, and Nigerian Air force Base. With this, the surrounding towns like Jaji, Kachia, and Zaria benefitted greatly as they also hosted some other military formations. For instance, in Jaji, we have Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre, Nigerian Army School of Infantry, and the Infantry Corps Centre. Zaria has the Recruit Training Depot, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Military School, Nigerian Army School of Military Police, and 11 Field Engineers Regiment; while Kachia host the Nigerian Army School of Artillery.


Kaduna in terms of landmass/space has a total area of 332, 400 sq. miles, the Northern Nigeria (North-West, North-Central, and North-East, this is completely outside what was to be the Sardauna Province that was added to it after the 1963 plebiscites) had 255, 400 Sq. m while Southern Nigeria (the South-West, South-East, and South-South combined) had only 76, 700 Sq.m. For this even then the North was made up of ¾ of Nigeria and at least the capital of this bigger part of Nigeria (Kaduna) should provide the administrative capital.

Since its establishment, Kaduna has always been relevant in Nigeria’s scheme of things. 

​In terms of population, the area has continually experienced astronomical growth when compared with other areas which maintain the same status as Kaduna. For instance, with a population of less than 2000 indigenous population in 1907, the first batch of 2000 soldiers was added to the population by 1914. The railway was attracting people as labourers, artisans, sellers, etc.

The original workforce was 300 and soon rose to become 3317 men and by late 1914 because many were recruited into the army to join the World War I, the labour force dropped to 2,500 men, while migrants in such places as Tudun Wada, Sabon Gari and Makera rose to about 5000. By 1927 when the Kaduna-Port Harcourt railway was opened, the population increased with more migrants, and the township could boast of over 10,000 inhabitants. By the 1952 census, the population rose to over 38,000 and with the 1963 census, the population rose to about 250,000. In the 1991 census, Kaduna city had about 1,307,311 (including the suburbs of the town in such Local Government areas of Igabi and Chukun) a little over the entire state’s population. That of 2006 was put at about 2 million (figures not verified). And as a result of the demographic change as well as its urban nature, Kaduna became an important city to many people for many reasons. This is where some of the challenges facing Kaduna may be located.

​Apart from Lagos (and recent Abuja), Kaduna is noted for its cosmopolitan population and composition. This according to research is hinged on the fact that it is easily accessible to people especially since it hosts, on one hand, the railway junction from the coast of Lagos of up 1,200 km linking the northern parts of Zaria-Kano-Nguru and Maiduguri; Zaria- Funtua, Gusau, and Kaura Namoda; Zaria-Jos-Kafanchan and on the other hand the Kaduna railway lines linking the north with the Eastern part of the country through Kafanchan-Makurdi-Enugu and Port Harcourt to the sea. The import of this to Economic Historian is that it has led to the heavy industrialization of the area and as such attracted people as well as a source of economic growth in the city even before Independence in 1960. Once the country attained Independence in 1960, the influx of people into the area increased, so much so that by the early 1990s, it had attained the status of industrial-cum-economic nerve center and thus becoming a major melting point that it became a mini-Nigeria.


Although Kaduna had a history of attracting population even before the conquest of the Nigerian area in the early 1900, its attraction to the international world was already visible to the imperial world much earlier than some areas in modern Nigeria. For instance due to the strategic nature of Kaduna, Lord Fredrick Lugard the British High Commissioner as early as 1902, set up a Committee headed by Captain H. Gyme Howell to visit Kaduna as a neutral settlement and survey its suitability as capital even before the conquest of entire northern Nigeria and submits his recommendation. With this, the British government continued to make grand efforts to secure the place for the future.

This became realistic which the conquest and eventual fall of the Caliphate to the British in 1903, which made Kaduna serve as a neutral ground in the mobilization and preparation of the military conquest, which further justified its importance to the colonial government. This made Kaduna more of a military center as was justified by the 1907 action during which, the British following several surveys and Lugard made Kaduna headquarters of the Northern Nigerian Regiment of the WAFF and ordered the movement of troops on permanent relocation to Kaduna. When Lugard’s exploit in the North was appreciated and rewarded as Governor-General of Nigeria in 1913, he revisited Howell’s recommendations of the choice of Kaduna as capital for the Northern Protectorate and wrote the Secretary of State in London, Lord Harcourt, of the choice of new capital for Northern Nigeria stating thus:

“I recommend, therefore, that the capital (for northern Nigeria) should now be moved to the point where the railway crosses the Kaduna at mile 572 from Lagos. The movement started in 1913 before the World War I broke out in 1914”.

Thus from the onset, it is clear that the creation of Kaduna as a strategic point even by the colonial government was primarily to serve as a convenient capital firstly for the WAFF in northern Nigeria and later as the Administrative capital of the Northern Nigerian Protectorate. According to Oyedele, this marked a turning point in the history of urbanization and metropolitan development in Nigeria, which was a great departure from the history of the formation and existence of hitherto traditional cities in northern Nigeria in particular and the country in general. This was because in establishing Kaduna as a capital city, therefore, not only that the British colonial administration made a virtue out of expediency, but since then the town has remained the nerve center in the political, military, economic, and social history and development not only the present 19 Northern States in Nigeria but the entire country. Again not only that Kaduna is a center of learning, but it also remains one of the leading industrial centers in the country and the North in particular. This has been particularly noted by scholars when opined and acknowledge that over the years, Kaduna remains one of the few cities in Nigeria established as a capital city during the colonial period and has remained so to date.

This view is back by the following facts:

Firstly, that First was the headquarters of the West African Frontier Forces during the conquest of northern Nigeria in 1907 and then the capital of the defunct Protectorate of Northern Nigeria from 1913-1957.

Secondly, when the Regional government was introduced, Kaduna was maintained as the capital of the Northern Regional Government under the Premiership of the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, from 1957-1967.

Thirdly as early as the 1960s, it maintained a status as the capital of the North-Central State from 1967-1975. Following the renaming of the North-Central State in 1975 as Kaduna State (comprising of the defunct Zaria and Katsina Provinces), Kaduna yet remained the State’s capital between 1975 and 1987 when Katsina State was created out of the then Kaduna State, and Kaduna has been the capital city of the new but present Kaduna State since then.


The struggle for Independence from the British colonial authority led to a situation in which some Western-educated elites in Northern Nigeria largely resident in Kaduna saw themselves as a united force to champion this course. It was therefore not surprising that in October 1951, this United Force came together to form a cultural association they named Jam’iyar Mutanen Arewa, which was later transmuted into a political party in July 1952 and named Northern People’s Congress (NPC).

To justify the future role Kaduna was to play in the country’s political development, this party with a large following had its first convention in Kaduna and was to become the party that formed government both in the North and in Nigeria up to January 1966 when the first coup d’état was executed. Even without a Regional Government, Kaduna remains an important capital for the Northern states in Nigeria where the 19 States Governors, as well as the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers, meet regularly to discuss affecting their jurisdictions. Today Kaduna houses the Headquarters of the Jama’atul Nasir Islam established in 1963 and the Christian Association of Nigeria established in 1980.

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