What is the richest tribe in Nigeria


Macrosocial structure

Ethnicity and national consciousness

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic state. More than 400 different language and ethnic groups are spread across the different regions of the country. The largest ethnic groups are:

The minorities, "minority groups", include:

  • the Kanuri (4%) in the northeast,
  • the Nupe (1.7%) and Tiv (2.5%) in the "Middle Belt",
  • the Edo (3.4%) in the southwest and the Ijaw (10%)
  • the Ibibio (3.4%) in the southeast.

Ethnicity plays a big role in Nigeria. Most Nigerians identify with their ethnicity rather than their nationality. The national consciousness of the Nigerians is only weakly developed, there is hardly any sense of unity as "One Nigeria". Instead, regional interests, ethnic ties and, more recently, prosperity and religious affiliation determine people's consciousness. The problem of the distribution of power between the ethnic groups permanently leads to tensions and conflicts in the country, since the minorities usually perceive the political weight of the large ethnic groups as dominance. Social life is affected by power struggles, "tribal thinking" and religious conflicts.

To tackle this problem, then President Goodluck Jonathan convened a national conference in March 2014 in the capital, Abuja. There, almost 500 representatives from politics and society were supposed to advise on the future of the country and discuss topics such as the question of national unity, the distribution of power between the ethnic groups and the better distribution of wealth and develop recommendations for action. It remains to be seen how and whether the recommendations made will be implemented in practice. The previous national conferences (1978, 1995 and 2005) had no visible success.


In total, over 400 languages ​​and well over 1,000 dialects are spoken in Nigeria. The official language of the country is English. The most important language groups and their regional distribution are:

  • Hausa-Fulani in the north
  • Yoruba and Edo in the southwest
  • Igbo and Ibibio in the southeast
  • Kanuri to the northeast
  • Tiv and Nupe in the Middle Belt
  • Ijaw in the Niger Delta.

The lingua franca are Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, the languages ​​of the three main ethnic groups in the respective regions, as well as Pidgin or Naijá Pidgin, a mixed language of English and various national languages ​​in the metropolitan areas of Nigeria.

Social situation and classes

The differences between rich and poor in Nigeria are still very large. According to the 2018 World Poverty Clock, extreme poverty has continued to increase in recent years. Nigeria today has countries like India and the D.R. Congo overtaken in terms of poverty. Over 82 million Nigerians now live below the poverty line - and the trend is rising.

Unemployment is high and is estimated to be over 50% among young people aged 15 to 35. The lack of wage-related employment means that more and more Nigerians in the big cities are looking for chances of survival in the informal economic sector as "self-employed". Mass impoverishment has been taking on threatening proportions for years.

Tens of thousands of people are abducted from Nigeria every year, particularly from Edo state in the south of the country, which has become one of the largest starting points for irregular migration in Africa. The International Organization for Migration (IMO) estimates that 91% of trafficking victims from Nigeria are women, and its traffickers have sexually exploited more than half of them. In 2020, the fate of these women was given a face and voice in the Netflix film Oloture, directed by award-winning Nigerian filmmaker Kenneth Gyang. The NAPTIP portal provides detailed information on human trafficking in Nigeria.

In addition to the many people living in poverty, there are also some very rich people in Nigeria. Nigerian Aliko Dangote, with a fortune of 14.1 billion US dollars in 2018, is considered the richest man in Africa.

Urban-rural relationship

Since the oil boom in the 1970s, the number of inhabitants in Nigeria's major cities has skyrocketed. The urbanization rate is 49.5%. More and more people are flocking to the big cities in search of better earning opportunities.

Despite the reform program launched by the Obasanjo administration (1999-2007) to revitalize agriculture, poverty is still greater in rural areas than in urban areas. Young people in particular see neither sufficient earning opportunities nor prospects in agriculture. In addition, since the oil boom, investments have been made almost exclusively in modernizing large cities, while rural areas have been neglected.

Gender ratio

Although the 1999 Nigerian Constitution guarantees gender equality, the reality is different. Nigeria is still a long way from achieving the goal - formulated by the Obasanjo government in the "National Policy on Women" in 2002 - of increasing the proportion of women in parliament by 30%. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, only seven female senators from a total of 109 were elected to the Nigerian upper house, the Senate. In addition, the new President Buhari only offered seven women one of the 43 ministerial posts. This means that Nigeria - also in comparison with other West African countries - with only 5.6% women in parliament is comparatively poorly positioned in terms of equality. According to the Global Gender Gap Report from 2020, Nigeria ranks 128th out of 153 countries examined and thus scores comparatively poorly.

The gender ratio is clear within the rural population, as life is still strongly determined by traditional laws and practices. However, there are major differences depending on ethnic composition, religious affiliation and region.

A large number of women's organizations in Nigeria are committed to gender equality.

At the end of 2016, the Sultan of Sokoto, the spiritual leader of all Muslims in Nigeria, rejected a draft law on equality. This aimed to ensure that men and women should in future be equal in inheritance law. The Sultan of Sokoto justified his rejection by pointing out that this draft violated Islamic law, according to which men should be given preference in inheritance law.

43% of Nigerian girls and women are married before their 18th birthday, 17% before their 15th birthday. Child marriage is an increasingly critical issue in the Nigerian public. Numerous protests are currently forming against the marriage of children, which is still widespread.

Sexual harassment is ubiquitous in many areas of Nigerian society. In universities, for example, many university professors use their power to sexually coerce women. For example, according to a BBC report, female students are forced to engage in sexual acts by high-ranking lecturers at the University of Lagos in order to get good grades.

Homosexuality is illegal and illegal in Nigeria. In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA). According to this law, same-sex marriages can be prosecuted for up to 14 years in prison. According to a Human Rights Watch report released in October 2016, the law has further stigmatized lesbians and gays in Nigeria. These are often harassed and ill-treated by the police and bullied by the population and pursued by vigilante justice. The Anglican Church in Nigeria also publicly condemns homosexuality as "poison for society", which contributes to the deterioration of social values ​​and culture. According to a study from January 2017, more than 90% of Nigerians reject homosexuality. However, the study also finds that the number of Nigerians who are tolerant of homosexuality has increased slightly in recent years.

Around 25% of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 are circumcised in Nigeria. On May 5th, 2015 the Nigerian upper house, the Senate, passed a law banning female genital mutilation (FGM). With the law, which came into force in June 2015, the Nigerian government, under outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, took the historic step to outlaw the practice of female genital mutilation.


The education system in Nigeria is based on the British model and is coordinated by the Nigerian Ministry of Education. Schooling is seen by the people as a prerequisite for rapid economic advancement.

The education system is based on the so-called 6-3-3-4 principle: Schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. Attending primary and lower secondary schools (JSS) is free of charge.
The secondary schools are chargeable, so many families cannot afford to send their children to school. There are also many church-sponsored schools that are also chargeable. In the Islamic north there are also numerous Koran schools in which the teaching of the Koran and general knowledge about Islam is imparted. For many families in the north of the country, Koran schools are the only way to get access to affordable education for their children.

In addition to the three oldest universities - University of Ibadan (UI), University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria - Nigeria has numerous state, federal and private universities. There are also a large number of universities and technical colleges, most of which are located in the south of the country.

The Nigerian education system

In the 29 years of military rule (1966-1979 and 1983-1999) the education system was severely neglected. As a result, considerable deficits developed.

Since the return to democracy in 1999, the Obasanjo (1999-2007), Yar `Adua (2007-2010), Jonathan (2010-2015) and Buhari governments have promised to work to improve education in Nigeria, but have done little. Consequence: The educational offers at the three levels of the Nigerian education system (primary, secondary and tertiary) are qualitatively inadequate. Not only is the equipment in schools across the country in a catastrophic state, many schools even lack classrooms. Against this background, private schools in the country are very popular. However, only wealthy families can afford this.

Much of the state and federal universities have also been in a precarious state for decades. The lack of funding for the infrastructure and staff has led to a steady decline in further educational institutions. The lack of infrastructure and poor pay for teaching staff are, in turn, the cause of frequent strikes by university professors who want to draw attention to the precarious situation and advocate better pay and better study conditions. The strikes often lead to lectures being canceled for weeks or months and thus have an additional negative effect on the quality of higher education in Nigeria.

A report by World Education Services (WES) draws attention to the precarious state of education in Nigeria in a detailed inventory. There are specific proposals as to how the quality of higher education in Nigeria could be improved: These include, for example, increasing the budget for higher education, intensive cooperation between the public and private higher education sector and improving relations with the trade unions, in particular with the Academic Personal Union Universities.


health care

Overall, health care in Nigeria can be described as "poor". If you don't have money, you won't get any medical treatment. There is a considerable gap between rich and poor and between north and south: health care is particularly precarious in the north of the country. In the country the conditions are even worse than in the city.

With 29 deaths per 1,000 newborns, Nigeria has - according to a UNICEF report (2018) - the eleventh highest death rate among newborns worldwide. This makes the country in Africa south of the Sahara "one of the eight most dangerous places" to be born.

The medical facilities are usually maintained by the state. Only a few institutions are financed by the churches or by private sponsors. Since the cost of medical treatment in the private facilities is high, only the few wealthy Nigerians can avail of it.

The belief in the healing powers of traditional medicine is still very much alive among Nigerians. In the case of certain illnesses, traditional healers are consulted rather than conventional doctors based on the western model.


The most common diseases in Nigeria are malaria, hepatitis, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, polio, meningitis, schistosomiasis (schistosomiasis) transmitted by freshwater parasites, river blindness and sleeping sickness caused by Tsetse flies is transmitted.

Several mass vaccinations against polio and meningitis have been carried out in recent years. At the end of 2016 there was an acute outbreak of meningitis in which 745 people died and more than 8,000 suspected cases were registered. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the children affected are between the ages of five and 14 years. The states in the north of the country are particularly affected.


HIV / AIDS has spread very rapidly in Nigeria in recent years. Reasons for the rapid spread are factors such as promiscuity, the still infrequent use of condoms, rural and urban poverty, the low literacy rate and poor education, the overall poor state of health, the low social status of women and the stigmatization of the sick.

To combat the further spread of HIV-AIDS, the government founded the National Agency for the Control of HIV / AIDS "(NACA)" (NACA) in 2002. The international organization AVERT carries out various campaigns to increase public awareness, education and prevention.


In 2014, an Ebola epidemic spread in West Africa - especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 5,833 people had been infected by September 2014, and 2,833 people had died of the virus at this point in time.

In comparison to the other West African countries, Ebola had only spread to a limited extent in Nigeria. There are a total of 20 confirmed Ebola cases, 8 of which were fatal. President Goodluck Jonathan declared at the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2014: "Today we can confidently say that Nigeria is Ebola-free." Nigeria - like Senegal - has thus proven that the Ebola virus can be controlled. On October 20, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Nigeria Ebola-free. Nigeria is therefore seen as a role model for combating Ebola in West Africa.

Coronavirus / COVID-19

The coronavirus, which caused the first deaths in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the beginning of 2020, quickly reached the African continent: the first case was registered in Nigeria at the end of February. It was an Italian who works in Nigeria and who had returned to the economic metropolis of Lagos after a stay in Milan. The second corona case in Nigeria was infected by this Italian.

Since then, the virus has spread rapidly in Nigeria - and throughout the world: according to the Nigerian National Disease Control Office, Center for Disease Control (NCDC), there were 40 confirmed cases of infection and one death in Nigeria in mid-March 2020. To curb the further spread of the coronavirus, the Nigerian government took a series of measures in mid-March. National borders and airports (especially for international flights) were closed and gatherings with a large number of people were banned.

At the end of March 2020, the government then imposed a five-week curfew (lockdown) in the three states of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun, which were most affected by Corona at the time. The curfew was relaxed on May 4th, 2020. Since then, there is only a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. nationwide, as well as the obligation to wear masks in public spaces, especially in shops, banks and in the markets.

Despite the measures, the virus continued to spread in the country, so that all 36 federal states have been affected by it since the end of May 2020. The number of confirmed cases of infection rose to over 9,000 by the end of May and the number of reported deaths related to COVID-19 to 300. The virus is believed to continue to spread in Nigeria in the coming months. The daily updated statistics on the course of the infection numbers are published by the National Disease Control Office Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC). In addition, regular updates on the pandemic in Nigeria can be found on the website of the Delegation of German Business.

As in other parts of the world, the curfews in Nigeria have hit the poor in particular hard: the measures to contain the virus have triggered famine among poorer Nigerians. A large part of the poor population works in the informal sector and is dependent on daily income - for example through the sale of food and trade in small quantities. These people were unable to generate any income during the curfew. In order to prevent the worst from happening, food was distributed to the needy population in some regions by the government and aid organizations. In late April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Nigeria an emergency loan of $ 3.4 billion to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a $ 288.5 million loan for Nigeria in June 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact on society and the economy.

Many Nigerians have lost their jobs. The informal sector, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are particularly hard hit. Poverty in Nigeria will rise again due to the corona pandemic and the rising middle class could slide into poverty again, as many small and medium-sized companies go bankrupt. The corona pandemic shows the major weaknesses of the Nigerian health system: Medical care in the country is absolutely inadequate.

At the end of June 2020, the Nigerian federal government initiated the first relaxation of the measures and reopened traffic between the federal states. In addition, domestic flights were resumed after a three-month lockdown. At the end of July, the rail connections in the country were reopened and international air traffic was allowed again at the beginning of September. For the resumption of international air traffic, the Nigerian government has issued strict security measures in a security protocol. Accordingly, the airlines are among other things responsible for ensuring that passengers who want to travel to Nigeria must have a negative corona test that is not older than 72 hours. Failure to comply with this rule will result in airlines being fined $ 3,500 per passenger.


Cultural diversity

The diversity of the ethnic groups living in Nigeria implies a great wealth of different traditions, customs and languages. In rural areas in particular, the cultural heritage lives on to this day in numerous festivals, dances, music and the visual arts.

The cultural wealth of Nigeria can also be seen in numerous museums that are spread across the country. The most famous among them are the National Museum in Lagos, the Gidan Makama Museum in Kano and the National Museum in Benin City.

The National Theater and Art Galleries are also worth a visit to Lagos. The Nike Gallery, in particular, is popular with tourists and often visited.

Regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation, there are central, overarching cultural values, norms and behaviors of the Nigerian population that also manifest themselves in everyday life. Anyone who wants to be interculturally successful in Nigeria should have understanding and respect for the cultural values, norms and behavior of the people.


The traditional cultures and their artistic products are world famous. These include the NOK terracottas (up to 3000 years old), metal castings from Ife, Benin bronzes, evidence of the Sao culture from Lake Chad, bronzes from Igbo-Ukwu, terracottas from Owo, the masks of many peoples, batik, dyeing Products, pottery and weaving goods.

In modern contemporary art, Nigeria has produced a number of recognized artists. Artists like Twins Seven Seven, Chief Muraina Oyelami, Obiora Udechukwu, Uche Okeke, Jimoh Buraimoh and the photographer J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere and others have made a name for themselves around the world.


Nigeria's contemporary literature made its official entry into world literature with the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Wole Soyinka. In 1985, Wole Soyinka became the first African in history to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in Abeokuta, in southwestern Nigeria, in 1934. Because of his opposition to the dictatorship in Nigeria, he was imprisoned during the Nigerian civil war. Wole Soyinka is an internationally acclaimed writer, literary scholar, theater maker and political essayist. He is still politically active today and regularly raises his voice against violence and injustice in his home country, Nigeria.

The award of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2002 to Chinua Achebe, who died in March 2013, also brought the Nigerian literary world closer to the German public. In 2007 Achebe was honored with the Man Booker Prize, the most important literary prize in the English-speaking area. Among the writers with international recognition are the late Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta. One of the country's newer female voices is the young Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has already published four of her award-winning novels in renowned German publishers. Ranker offers an overview of the famous Nigerian writers.

The oral tradition is highly regarded as the most important art form, especially among the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups in the south of the country. The stories are rich in proverbs and wisdom and fulfill various functions in society.


Nigerian music enjoys international recognition in the music scene. The Nigerian Fela Kuti is considered the most colorful star in African pop history: He was the inventor of the Afro-Beat, a wild fusion of jazz, funk, Ghanaian highlife, psychedelic rock and traditional chants. During his performances, he went on stage with up to 40 band members: saxophonists, trumpeters, guitarists, drummers of all kinds and a large number of dancers and singers. Fela Kuti was also seen as a critic of the military government in Nigeria and campaigned against the consequences of colonialism. The afro beat tradition of Fela Kuti, who died in 1997, is continued today by his son Femi Kuti.

The King of Juju Music Sunny Ade delights audiences worldwide with his "Juju Music". Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe was one of the best highlife musicians in West Africa. In the field of hip-hop and soul music, young female singers like Nneka and Asa are currently `en vogue´ in the international music scene. In addition, young musicians - such as Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Femi Alade - inspire their audiences with their Afrobeat songs and are known across national borders. The rise of Nigerian Afrobeats music around the world could help solve the problems facing the local music industry.


Nigeria is home to the second largest film industry in the world. Around 2,000 films and videos are made every year, and business is booming. The Nigerian film industry Nollywood produces films and videos in English, as well as in the local languages ​​Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Pidgin-English. The Nollywood films are based on everyday Nigerian events and address phenomena such as envy, resentment, jealousy, poverty and wealth in society, AIDS, corruption, prostitution, violence and interreligious family histories. Traditional aspects such as sorcery and magic are of course also integrated into the film plot.

With Half of a Yellow Sun, a piece of Nigerian history hit international cinemas in 2013. The film is about the fate of a family during the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970). The template was the bestseller of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie "Half the Sun".


Nigerians are known in West Africa for their colorful and elaborately embroidered clothing. Since Nigeria is a multi-ethnic state, each ethnic group has its traditional clothing. The men wear the "status-bound chieftaincy", the "jumper" the so-called "Agbada" and the "Baba Rija". Nigerian women wear the "buba" with the traditional wrap-around skirt called a "wrapper".

Young Nigerian fashion designers are now combining traditional clothing styles with modern elements and are thus gaining worldwide recognition. Nigeria is now considered a "hot spot" for fashion - not only on the African continent, but increasingly also worldwide.

Recently, a black Barbie doll was developed in Nigeria, which was equipped with clothes based on African designs. The attempt was made to offer an alternative to the white Barbie doll with which children all over the world play and to counter the globalized "white ideal of beauty" with a "black ideal of beauty". In this way, the identification of Nigeria's children with their traditional background is to be strengthened.


Although the Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, it is difficult to implement in practice due to religious tensions. The country is shaped by three different religions: Islam, which came to Nigeria through the Trans-Saharan trade in the 11th century; Christianity, introduced by European missionaries from 1842, and the indigenous religions. Almost 50% of the population are Muslims, around 45% are Christians and the rest of the population belongs to indigenous beliefs. In the north of the country the Muslim portion of the population predominates and in the southeast the Christian portion, while there is a more balanced distribution in the so-called Middle Belt and in the southwest.

The islam

The Kanem-Bornu empire in northeastern Nigeria developed in the 9th century from the market centers of the Trans-Saharan trade on Lake Chad. This is where the Islamization of northern Nigeria began, because the rulers of this empire were the first to convert to Islam in the 11th century. Between the 11th and 15th centuries, through the Trans-Saharan trade, Islam spread to the neighboring Hausa states (Kano, Katsina, Zaria). A complete Islamization of the Hausa area began in 1804 with the jihad under the leadership of the Islamic scholar Usman Dan Fodio, who finally consolidated the position of Islam with the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate and the advance to Ilorin in the northern Yoruba country.

Two currents of Islam are represented in northern Nigeria: the brotherhood of the Qadiriyya in Sokoto and the Tijaniyya, the long-established Hausa in Kano. Both are variants of Sunni Islam. Since Nigeria's independence, many Islamic communities have emerged, i.e. as with the Christians, Islam adapted itself to African traditions, among other things with the emergence of new Islamic sects.

One of the most famous Islamic sects is the Boko Haram, founded in 2002, whose name means "Western education is sin". It has been carrying out terrorist attacks in the north of the country on a regular basis since 2009. It pursues the goal of proclaiming an Islamic state of God in Nigeria. Around 20,000 people have fallen victim to the Islamist terrorist group since 2009.


Apart from the branches of individual missionaries in the large slave terminals (Badagry, Calabar, Lagos), systematic Christian proselytizing did not begin until 1842, starting from "Fourah Bay College" in Freetown / Sierra Leone, where Great Britain had resettled freed slaves. The first bishop of Niger (West Africa), Samuel Ajayi Crowther, came from there. Christianization began with the Anglican missionaries from England. In the years that followed, Christianity gradually spread in southern Nigeria. The center of the missionary work was the city of Abeokuta in southwest Nigeria. The first mission station was only founded in Onitsha in 1885.

Christianity in Nigeria is divided into Catholics (13%), Protestants (15%) and syncretistic African church communities (17%) - a mixture of traditional religions and free evangelists, mostly members of evangelical and Pentecostal churches. There are already over a thousand of these new African parishes with several million members in Nigeria, and the number is rising. Most of these churches are strongly profit-oriented. The faith business is booming and the preachers are revered and celebrated by the faithful like the stars of the Nigerian Nollywood film industry. Most of them lead an extravagant lifestyle and fly across the country in private jets. The preachers give people the hope of becoming rich through faith. In addition, they are said to have the gift of healing people from diseases. "Church is business" is a popular phrase in Nigeria.

The natural religions

The traditional religions have been able to assert themselves to this day despite the hostility from the major religions. They are currently experiencing a kind of renaissance. Depending on the ethnic group, one believes in earth spirits, water gods, ancestral spirits, deities, magic and sorcery. The "juju belief" is pronounced among the ethnic groups in southern Nigeria, with "juju" as the magical magic power at its center. Manifestations are juju forests, juju rivers, juju plants, juju trees or objects such as amulets and talismans.

Despite the acceptance of Christianity and Islam, the vast majority of the Nigerian population seeks protection from foreign powers in the Juju. For many Nigerians, nominal membership of an established religion in no way means giving up their traditional religion.

Religious conflicts

The relationship between the followers of the two great religions, the Muslims and the Christians, is extremely tense. Often a minor cause is enough to cause bloody unrest. An incident in the Christian south against Muslims that is even remotely motivated by religion will immediately provoke reactions in the north, which repeatedly lead to the death of so-called non-believers (pogroms). These are now part of everyday life in Nigeria. Since 2000, the official figures speak of over 11,500 deaths (Christians) due to religious unrest. The actual numbers are likely to be many times higher.

The assessment of global security is worth reading. With the introduction of Sharia law in the 12 northern states and the terror by Boko Haram in the three northeastern states, tensions have increased further, so that northern Nigeria already ranks 12th out of 50 positions on the 2020 World Tracking Index.

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