See the Intriguing Stories Behind The Names of these Nigerian States – Lagos, Kano, Sokoto and more(Photos)

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Nigerian States

Everyone is familiar with all the states and their capitals in Nigeria.

We all grew up reciting those during our primary school days. But have we actually asked ourselves how those names were gotten? What inspired the creation of those names and by whom? That’s today’s lesson.

We’d be looking at major states with peculiar stories. There’s just so much to learn about the giant of Africa. And if you think you know it all, then score yourself when you’re done.


1. Adamawa

This state was named after a great warrior who conquered the region back in the early 19th century. His name was Modibbo Adama Bin Ardo Hassan.

Yola Gate, AdamawaImage: ComeToNigeria

2. Akwa-Ibom

Akwa Ibom is named after a river called the ‘Qua Iboe’ (or Kwa Iboe) River.

Ibom plazaImage: Akwa Defender

3. Anambra

Its name was derived from the Oma Mbala (Omambala) River (in Igbo, the native name of the river is Ànyịm Ọma Mbala).

Ogbunike caveImage: Hotels NG

4. Bauchi

There are three versions how the state got its name. One version says ‘Bauchi’ is a Hausa word meaning the ‘southern flanks of Hausa land.’ Tribes living in that region were referred to as “Kasashen Bauchi” which we now call Bauchi. According to the second version, the state was named after the famous hunter, ‘Baushe’ who settled there before the 19th century while the third, states that ‘Bauchi’ is a Hausa word for slavery since it was a hub for slave raiders.

Tafawa Balewa Tomb Bauchi

Image: A. Arome

5. Benue

A word derived from the Batta language ‘Binuwe’ which means ‘Mother of Waters’.

Bridge over river BenueImage: SexyMaheeda

6. Enugu

Enugu derived its name from two local Igbo words ‘enu ugwu’ meaning ‘top of the hill’.

Enugu Town

Image: TheHotelNG

7. Kano

The state was named after a blacksmith of the Gaya tribe who settled in the area while sourcing for ironstone. He was popularly known as Kano.

Kano gatesImage: Wikipedia

8. Katsina

Katsina was named after the wife of the local ruler known as Janzama. Her name was Katsina.

Gobarau Minaret, KatsinaImage: IreneBecker/Flickr

9. Lagos

The name Lagos is a Portuguese word for lakes. The Portuguese were the first set of Europeans to reach Lagos in 1472. The name was inspired by the lagoons and rivers in Lagos.

Lekki-Ikoyi bridgeImage: Scott Lagos

10. Sokoto

This state is named after the defunct Sokoto Caliphate. Sokoto is the anglicised version of the Arabic word ‘suk’ which means ‘market’ or ‘place of commerce’ or “assukuut” which means “silence” in Arabic.

Sultan's palace Sokoto

Image: IreneBecker/Flickr