The history of the state of Kaduna dates back to 1912, when the capital city of Kaduna was founded by British colonial ruler Lord Frederick Lugard on the largely uninhabited plains of Zaria. The city and state are named after the river Kaduna, one of the two major tributaries of the Niger River that feeds into the plains. The river’s name itself most likely derives from the Hausa word Kadduna, meaning crocodiles.
Throughout its colonial and early post-colonial history, the state served as the political and administrative centre of the north. As a result, it became an important centre of commerce, media, industry and trade, as well as an academic centre with many tertiary educational institutions, earning the state the nickname “the Centre of Learning”. The boundaries of modern-day Kaduna were determined in 1987, when it was divided into Katsina State and Kaduna State. Kaduna contains traditional emirate of Zaria, which dates back to the 11th century. Evidence of one of the oldest African civilisations was uncovered in the town of Nok in southern Kaduna, in the form of terracotta sculptures dating back to 1500 BCE.
The Kaduna State Bureau of Statistics (KDBS) estimated the state’s population to be 8.9m in 2020 – growing at a rate of 2.5% per year – making it the third-most populous state in the country. If this trend continues, Kaduna will have over 21m inhabitants by 2050. Kaduna is multi-cultural and multi-religious; it is home to over 60 ethnic groups, with the Hausa/Fulani and Gbagyi the most populous. While Islam is the dominant religion, there is a significant Christian minority, largely in the south. Kaduna has a young population, with 43% of inhabitants aged 14 or younger, and 3% over the age of 65.
The state has a tropical climate with dry and wet seasons, and an average annual temperature of around 25°C. The wet season runs from April to October and peaks in July and August. With its accommodating climate and large tracts of arable land, much of Kaduna is conducive to agricultural cultivation. The state’s major crops include sorghum, ginger, tomatoes, rice, millet and maize.
Executive powers are vested with the governor, who chairs the State Executive Council. The body is composed of the deputy governor and 14 commissioners who also serve as state ministers with their own portfolios. A 34-member unicameral legislature, the Kaduna House of Assembly, is presided over by the speaker. Kaduna State is governed at the local level via 23 local government areas: Birnin Gwari, Chikun, Giwa, Igabi, Ikara, Jaba, Jema’a, Kachia, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Kagarko, Kajuru, Kaura, Kauru, Kubau, Kudan, Lere, Makarfi, Sabon Gari, Sanga, Soba, Zangon Kataf and Zaria.
According to the most recent data from the KDBS, Kaduna had a nominal GDP of N2.9trn ($7.7bn) in 2018, up from N1.9trn ($5.1bn) in 2013. The main drivers of growth in 2018 were agriculture; ICT; trade; public administration; and professional, scientific and technical services. That year services were the biggest contributor to GDP, at 51.2% of the total, followed by agriculture (38.1%) and industry (10.7%). Kaduna’s GDP per capita was estimated to be $2004 in 2020, an increase from $1820 in 2018.
GDP grew by 8.4% in 2018, but in October 2020 credit ratings agency Fitch forecast it would slow to 2.2% by the end of the year as the state continued to manage the impact of the pandemic. Despite its strong performance in attracting investment and boosting internally generated revenue, the health crisis and the sharp reduction in oil prices are likely to have a significant impact on the short-term economic performance of the state, largely due to Kaduna’s reliance on federal allocations of oil revenue. According to Fitch, approximately half of Kaduna’s N100bn ($267m) operating revenue at end-2019 depended on federal transfers, which are set to decline by more than 40% in 2020 as a result of the oil price drop.