Development of Mapping in Nigeria

Author: Balogun, Olayinka

Supervisor: Ayinde Adalemo

Maps are an important tool for the development planning of a nation and it is necessary to study the development of mapping with a view to evaluating the extent to which it has been geared towards the satisfaction of the requirements of national development planners and various other users. Official mapping was started in Nigeria by colonial administrators in the first decade of the 20th century even though several maps of Nigeria had been drawn by explorers, navigators, scientists and travellers, including Nigerians before the advent of colonial administration. The mapping done by British explorers and scientists prepared the way for the colonisation of Nigeria, having exposed the various attributes and the nature of the country. The beginning of systematic mapping by colonial masters in Africa was generally slow and motivated by immediate gains in terms of the mineral and agricultural products such mapping could yield for export, and the revenue it could generate for the colony to justify its expenditure on mapping. Thus, for a very long time, geological surveys dictated the pace and coverage of topographical mapping in Nigeria. The realisation of a wider range of benefits systematic mapping could bring and the various representations from concerned learned individuals and associations in the United Kingdom eventually led to the laying of a better foundation for the mapping of Nigeria. The Second World War further revealed to the British government the wisdom in producing maps of its colonies, as a result of which the Directorate of Colonial Surveys was set up in 1946 to handle topographical mapping in the British colonies, including Nigeria. Serious and detailed contoured topographical mapping did not however begin in Nigeria until after independence (1960) when Nigeria allowed the Directorate to continue its mapping under the UK Mutual Technical Assistance Scheme, sought the Assistance of the Canadian Government and equipped the Federal Surveys to carry out the 1:50,000 contoured topographical mapping of the whole country. Other scales used for topographical mapping in Nigeria include 1:250,000; 1:100,000; 1,25,000 and full coverage has not been achieved in one scale. Apart from topographical maps, other single map series have been introduced. These include geological maps by the Geological Survey, Land Use and Vegetation maps by the Federal Department of Forestry, atlas maps, soil maps etc