The Nigerian Records Office was established on 1st April, 1954 by an administrative order. The establishment was ,as a result of the efforts of late Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike whose primary interest was to find adequate and permanent solution to the problem of storage and preservation of the bulk of Nigerian Government records which were (till that period) kept in the custody of each creating department or the government agency. In 1951 Professor Dike was commissioned by the Nigerian Government to survey the records of the Nigerian Colonial Government and to make recommendations as to their proper custody, storage and preservation. In his report published by the Nigerian Government in 1954, Professor Dike recommended that all the records of the Nigerian Government which were no longer being used for the day-to-day administration should be housed in one central record office. The proposal was duly approved by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The result was the establishment of the Nigerian Record Office with Professor Dike as the first Supervisor of Public Records.

The Nigerian Record Office was placed under the administrative control of the Public Works Department until it was transferred to the Ministry of Education in 1957. On the 14th of November, 1957 the Public Archives Ordinance No. 43 was passed, and it authorised the establishment of the National Archives of Nigeria to provide for the preservation of public archives. The Act empowered the National Archives of Nigeria to establish as many branches as might be deemed necessary and convenient. The 1957 Archives Ordinance has since been repealed by the promulgation of the National Archives Decree no. 30 of July 8th 1992. By the promulgation of the Decree, the inadequacies observed in the Archives Ordinance were rectified.

From 1954 to 1982 the National Archives of Nigeria existed in Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna, based on the then regional grouping in Nigeria. Today the National Archives of,Nigeda has established ten additional branches with headquarters in Lagos. The branches are located in Abeokuta, Akure, Benin, Calabar, Ilorin, Jos, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto.


The National Archives in Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu are in permanent buildings with about 3,000 linear metres of archives in each office.

The National Archives Kaduna houses the oldest records in our holdings, dating back to the 12th century A.D. These records deal with the activities of Muslim traders, Muslim missionaries and adventurers. Though contact with the Europeans dated back to the first half of the fifteenth century, there are no records in the National Archives of Nigeria depicting this period of the Nigerian history. The records of the Pre-Consular period (1800-1849) are available at the Public Record Office London, among the Admiralty Papers and among the.Foreign Office Papers (FO 2 Series). Some of the records such as the Admiralty Despatches to and from the Consuls (1849-1859) are available. The Despatches form the best source material for the study of the political and economic activities of the coastal towns in Nigeria (1848-1899).

Though the Royal Niger Company administered parts of Nigeria, there are no records relating to the activities of this company which lasted from 1886-1899. Only few materials re~ating to the activities of the Royal Niger Company are available in other record groups. The Royal Niger Company Records are however, available at the United African Company (U.A.C.) headquarters, Liverpool.

The holdings of the National Archives in the three major repositories in Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna include Consular Despatches, records of the Protectorate Administrations, records of the Civil Secretary Offices, Provincial and District Offices records, of Local Government and native Administration, records of Judiciary, and Ecclesiastical records. There are also Civil War Collections comprising printed matter, tapes and discs and records of various Ministries and parastatals. The records in the new offices are those of the defunct public institutions; Federal Electoral Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigerian Grain Board, Presidential Liaison Offices, and Political Parties.

This Guide focuses attention on filed papers, but authentic Nigerian history cannot be written using only filed documents. There are very valuable records, printed materials; Nigerian Annual Reports found in the libraries attached to the search rooms. These have been included in the Guide also included are newspapers, pictorial and cartographic records.


All records up to twenty-five years old are open to the public for research. Sometimes the twenty-five year rule is waved to allow consultation of more recent records. Records relating to all government agencies, Parastatals and other agencies are open for consultations by bona fide researchers.


Applications for permission to use the National Archives search room is usually addressed in writing to the Director. The applicant should state his profession or business, his place of abode and the particular area of research. Foreign bona fide researchers should submit their applications which must contain these particulars and their research topics. The search is open to searchers from Monday to Friday between 8.00 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.

The National Archives of Nigeria charges a registration fee for the use of Archives. Private searchers pay a nominal fee of N25.00 while students pay N10.00. Registration is renewable after one calendar year. Photostat copies of documents are made available to searchers on demand at a cost of N2.00 per page, which is subject to review. The National Archives is equipped with reference libraries containing rare books on Nigerian and African history, and Anthropology. The libraries are in Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna. There are also Government Publications including Hasards.


Records preserved in the National Archives are arranged according to their provenance. Each record group has a list containing all the record pieces in the group. The lists constitute the most valuable finding aids at the disposal of researchers and are available in the search room. List of such finding aids form part of this Guide.


All enquiries should be addressed to:
The Director, National Archives of Nigeria (P.M.B. 12897, Ikoyi Road, Lagos). Tel: 234-1-686469.
Federal Ministry of Information and Communications, Radio House, Abuja, Nigeria. Tel: 234-9-2344105, ext 267.


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