Niger is a state in the North Central region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country. Niger state has three political zones, zone A,B and C. The state’s capital is at Minna. Other major cities are Bida, Kontagora and Suleja. It was formed in 1976 when the then North-Western State was divided into Niger State and Sokoto State. It is home to Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, two of Nigeria’s former military rulers. The Nupe, Gbagyi, Kamuku, Kambari, Gungawa, Hun-Saare, Hausa and Koro form the majority of numerous indigenous tribes of Niger State. The state is named after the River Niger. Two of Nigeria’s major hydroelectric power stations, the Kainji Dam and Shiroro Dam, are located in Niger State, along with the new Zungeru Dam. The Jebba Dam straddles the border of Niger state and Kwara state. The famous Gurara Falls is in Niger State, and Gurara Local Government Area is named after the Gurara River, on whose course the fall is situated. Also situated there is Kainji National Park, the largest National Park of Nigeria, which contains Kainji Lake, the Borgu Game Reserve and the Zugurma Game Reserve.
Festivals and Traditions
Around 90 percent of Niger’s population is Muslim, and this influences the ceremonies and festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. For example, Ramadan and the associated Eid al Fitr are important Islamic festivals observed in Niger.
- Easter: Easter Monday is a national public holiday in Niger. Although Christians are a minority in the country, the government respects the beliefs of both Muslims and Christians since both holidays are observed nationally. Easter is usually April or May, according to the Christian Calendar.
- Nigerian Independence Day: It is celebrated on August 3 annually, this public holiday
commemorates the country’s independence from France in 1960. Since 1975 it has also been conjointly celebrated as Arbor Day, where citizens are encouraged to plant a tree to celebrate their young country’s nascence, but also to combat desertification, which is a concerning environmental problem the country faces.
- Cure Salee: This is the largest traditional festival celebrated in Niger, where the Tuareg and Wodaabe people from the north gather in the town of Ingall to celebrate the end of the rainy season. It usually occurs on the last weekend of September, just as the rains are ceasing. Cure Salee translates as ‘Salt Cure’ from French (the official language of Niger). The clans gather at the salt flats and pools to refresh their cattle and goats in preparation for the dry season ahead of them. It is also a time of traditional courtship, and many weddings are held during this time. The government has been sponsoring this centuries-old tradition and now heralds it as a major
Tourists Attractions and Locations
- Gurara Waterfalls: Guarara Water Falls is best described as Nigeria’s Premier Falls. It is located at kilometre 76 along Minna-Suleja road. It got its name from Village bordering the river and was used for sacrifices by the Gbagyi of Bonu in Gawu District. The sacrificial activities started to diminish when some Europeans discovered the place and found it suitable for recreational activities on weekends. It is one of the nation’s greatest potential holiday resorts. The Waterfalls is at its peak during the month of April to October while it is lowest in January to March.
- Baro Port: Baro Port was used in colonial days to transport goods by ship to foreign countries through River Niger and from overseas to Nigeria. A railway line terminus (Minna – Baro ) exists where goods were transported from the hinterland to the port for export and vice versa
- River Niger: The Niger River is the main river of West Africa, extending about 4,180 km (2,600mi). Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea near the Sierra Leone border. It runs in a crescent shape through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria, discharging through a massive delta, known as the Niger Delta (or the Oil Rivers, into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, exceeded by the Nile and the Congo River. Its main tributary is the Benue River.