PROJECT TOPIC- ECONOMIC HISTORY OF EKITI PEOPLE IN NIGERIA, 1900-1960
The economic history of the colonial Nigeria will be incomplete without considering the contribution of the Ekiti people. Unfortunately, this contribution is largely unknown for lack of research documentation. Rather, many researchers on Ekiti have focused mainly on the political, religious, social, artistic and, most especially, the educational experiences of the people. The colonial government easily recognized the economic potential of Ekiti, which was why it did not hesitate, particularly for mostly exploitative reasons, to provide the infrastructure to achieve British economic interests. The infrastructure included European administrative system, modern transportation system, modern education, medical services, road construction, new currency and banking systems; all of which have been thoroughly examined. However, this research has discussed in detail, the economic potential of the colonial Ekiti, focusing on the major aspects of the economy that were indispensable to the growth of Western Region between 1900 and 1960: agriculture as well as art and craft industries. This made it very important to discuss the major Ekiti agricultural products like cocoa, kola, timber, palm roduce, rubber and various subsidiary crops like tobacco, rice and cotton.
These are in addition to staple food production and livestock. The art and craft industry also gave a fortifying energy to the economy of the colonial
Ekiti through various art and crafts products.
The activities of the domestic and external traders have been thoroughly discussed under market systems and the activities of both local and, particularly, expatriate exporters of export commodities. The research has made it clear that Ekiti was an economic force behind the development of
Western Region in the colonial period.
Ekiti state, located in the north-eastern part of South Western Nigeria with abundant natural resources and other economic viabilities that still await
prospecting,1 was carved out of old Ondo State on October 1, 1996. This was sequel to years of intellectual and political struggle by the Ekiti political
business, social and academic elite (Map 1.1).2 Before this creation, Ekiti constituted 52% of the old Ondo State population of over 3 million. The land
area covers about 10898.68 kilometres, with hilly features and well spread prominent rocks, all of which earned the state the name “Okiti” or “Ekiti”,
meaning a hilly land.
With its capital in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State (Map 1.2) is surrounded by Osun State in the west, Ondo State in the south east, Kwara State in the north
and Kogi State in the north east.4 This geographical location has been a boost to the economic potential of the state. Historically, Ekiti once occupied a
very large area, covering parts of the present Kogi State as well as the present Ilesha and Akure. But by 1940, both Ilesha and Akure had ceased to be part of Ekiti Division.5 Culturally, however, particularly as regards language or dialect and elements of tradition, the Ilesha, Akure and the Ekiti still continue, naturally, to drink from the same stream of ethnic unity.6 In fact, according to Isola Olomola, the name Ekiti was used to cover the whole northern areas of Eastern Yoruba before the arrival of the Europeans.