May 27, 1969

Gowon declares the division of Nigeria in 12 states, which includes splitting the Eastern Region into three parts

On the eve of the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967, Gowon and the Federal Military Government split Nigeria into 12 distinct states. For some, this decision was reflective of the desire of Nigerians to have more autonomy in the governance of their own regional affairs. However, this move also served to break apart the “ethnic hegemony” of the Igbo people by confining the majority of the Igbo to the new East Central State. Gowon explains in his speech creating the twelve distinct states that “the twelve states will be six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Eastern region, the Mid-West will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the Western Region and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western Region will otherwise remain as it is.”

1967 map showing the 12 states created by the FMG.