The Western region was one of the four constitutionally recognized regions in Nigeria during the colonial and immediately after the colonial period.
After the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, the country was divided into three administrative divisions, the Colony of Nigeria and the Northern and Southern provinces. Later on April 1, 1939, Southern Nigeria was divided into two provinces: the Western and Eastern province. In 1947, the Richards constitution introduced regional Houses for the Western, Eastern and Northern Provinces. A new constitution which began operation on October 1, 1954 established Nigeria to consist of the Western Region of Nigeria, the Northern Region of Nigeria and the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
Demographics and geography
In the Western region of Nigeria, a large number of its inhabitants lived in the hinterland away from the low lying coastline of lagoons and swamps; close to two thirds are from the Yoruba ethnic group majority of whom lived in the tropical rain forest merging with the savannah up north. Other members of the region from 1947-1963, included the Urhobos, Western Ijaw, Isoko, Edos and others.
To the west of the region is the republic of Benin, formerly called Dahomey.
Some of its noteworthy geographical and demographical features includes the Ilesha hills, which rises above 2,000 feet in elevation. The largest city in the region and during the 1950s, the largest in the nation was Ibadan with a population of about 459,000, it was also termed the largest city in tropical Africa. Ibadan also served as the region's capital. The Yoruba's were known for living in urbanized areas with 47% living in towns above 5,000 people.
In 1955, the Action Group led government introduced free primary education for children 6 years or over and tried to provide available seats for 10% of the graduates in secondary schools.
Central to the economy is agriculture with cocoa playing an important forex earner.
The region provides fertile land for the production of cocoa, rubber, tobacco, and palm produce. In 1962, Nigeria produced about 23.3% of the African share of cocoa production or close to 17.2% of the world cocoa production with majority of it coming from the region. A large number of the cocoa plantations are produced by individual farmers from clearings in the dense rain forest that provides shelter from the sun and acts as a shield from the rain. Another major cash crop is rubber, majority of which is cultivated in the Eastern flank of the region, in what later became the Mid-West region. Unlike other countries in Africa such as Liberia and the Congo, rubber was cultivated by individual farmers who farm on small lands. In 1959, the country as a whole accounted for the largest share of rubber production in Africa, and was the sixth largest producer in the world, with close to 90% of the production coming from the Eastern portion of the Western region. Another staple of the Eastern economy was forestry, with the Benin province acting as the centerpoint of the Nigerian timber industry and later at Sapele, the United African Company erected what was once the largest factory unit in Africa, a timber and plywood factory unit.
On October 31, 1959, a television network began transmission from two transmitters in Lagos and Ibadan, two heavily populated areas.
A consequence of the regional set up created a situation whereby the dominant ethnic groups like the Yoruba in the West could easily be the only group to democratically attain the top most seat.
In 1963, the Mid-West was carved out of the Western region.
- Alan Sokolski. The Establishment of Manufacturing in Nigeria. p 9