10 Longest & Most Popular Rivers in Nigeria

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Rivers have proven to be great blessings to humanity. And like any other gift shoveled to us by nature, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of rivers.

Unquestionably, rivers can be said to be the mainstays and also very key elements to the economy of any Nation.  They are essential for the transportation of different goods, needed for agriculture, important for tourism as well for natural mineral sources.

The usefulness of rivers in Nigeria, however, goes way above the economic value. ⠀Native dwellers value rivers so much and see them ultimately as the source of life.

Nigeria being the giant of Africa, is blessed with so many natural minerals resources that can be extracted from the earth’s surface for important use of man.

10 longest & most popular Rivers in Nigeria

In the next lines below we have compiled 10 of the most important waters and tributaries that makeup Nigeria’s major rivers.

  • Niger River- 4,180 KM

Niger River is West Africa’s largest river. It is the third-longest river in Africa, after the Nile and Congo, with a length of 2,600 miles (4,200 km).

The Greeks were believed to have given the river Niger a name. In its course of existence, it has been identified by several other names.

These include the upper course of the Joliba (Malinke: “Big River”); the central portion of the Mayo Balleo and the Isa Eghirren; and the lower section of the Kwarra, Kworra, or Quorra.

On the east side of the Fouta Djallon (Guinea) uplands, the Niger arises in Guinea at 9 ° 05′ N and 10 ° 47′ W, just 150 miles (240 km) offshore the Atlantic Ocean.

Filing as the Tembi from a deep ravine 2,800 feet (850 meters) over sea altitude, over the first 100 miles (160 km) it flows due north.

It then takes a northeasterly trajectory as it meets its upper tributaries — the Mafou, the Niandan, the Milo, and the Sankarani on the right and the Tinkisso on the left  to join Mali.

  • Benue River – 1400 KM

The Benue River is historically known as the Chadda or Chadda River, is the Niger River’s main tributary.

The river is around 1,400 kilometers long and during the summer season, it is almost completely accessible and navigable, making it an important transportation route for the region it passes.

It begins in northern Cameroon’s Adamawa Plateau, from where it travels west, and into the town of Garoua and Lagdo Reservoir and then into the south of Nigeria of the Mandara Region in the mountains, it further flows through Jimeta, Ibi and Makurdi until connecting with Niger at Lokoja.

The Gongola River and the Mayo Kébbi, which connects it to the Logone River during floods, are large tributaries.

The Taraba River and the Katsina-Ala River are other tributaries. The Benue exceeds the Niger by volume at the point of confluence. The runoff of both rivers reduced markedly due to irrigation over the decades that followed.

  • Anambra River- 210 KM

The Anambra River is the historical landmark from which Anambra State was founded, the white men named the river as the River Niger’s Anam Branch.

The river’s name was later cut short to Anam bra (Anambra), and has since been called by this name till today.

The Anambra River that flows through numerous large deltas into the Atlantic Ocean forms the Niger Delta in the southern part of the country into the Guinea Gulf.

The people of Anam, practically enveloped by the river on all sides and they named it “Omambala,” although some outlying towns like Umuleri (umueri) and Aguleri calls the river “Omambala” in their local dialect.

  • Imo River- 241 KM

The massive Imo River which flows before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean through the state of Imo, Abia and Rivers.

The Imo River (Igbo: Mmiri Imo) flows 240 kilometers (150 mi) into the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Nigeria.

Its waterway is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) large, with a yearly termination of 4 cubic kilometers (1.0 cubic miles) with 26,000 hectares of tropical forest.

The tributary rivers of Imo are the Otamiri and Oramirukwa cleared in 1907–1908 and 1911 under Nigeria’s British colonial administration.

  • Ogun River- 300 KM

Lagos is at the mouth of the Ogun River where it terminates into the Lagos Lagoon The original source of the River is Oyo State, near Shaki in Southwestern Nigeria, to where it flows into Lagos from Ogun State.

The River Ogun’s largest tributary is the Ofiki River, which also originates from Shaki. The Oyan River is another tributary that is crossed by the Oyan River Dam which provides water to Lagos and Abeokuta.

The river is traversed by the Ikere Gorge Dam in the area of Oyo State precisely in Iseyin local government. The capacity of the reservoir is about 690 million cubic meters (560,000 acres).

The reservoir takes off from the Old Oyo National Park, supplying tourists with recreational amenities, and the river flows via the park.

The river is used to bathe, wash and drink in densely populated areas. It also functions as a drain from abattoirs situated along the course of the river for majorly solid waste.

  • Kaduna River- 550KM

The Kaduna River is a River Niger tributary flowing through Nigeria for 550 kilometers (340 mi). The Kaduna River is the Niger River’s largest tributary.

It derives its origin from Plateau State on the Jos Plateau which is about 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Jos Suburb near Vom and travels to the northwest to a curve 22 miles (35 km) north-east of Kaduna City.

It further pours to the southwest and from there to the south until finishing its 340-mile (550-kilometer) at Mureji (opposite Pategi) which ends at Niger.

In Hausa language, The Kaduna translates to  “crocodiles” the river is named according to the crocodiles that live in the surrounding areas of the river.

Gbari (Gwari) community used the upward wetlands of Kaduna for swamp rice production. Also in the southern plains of Nupe tribal territory Rice and sugar cane growth has become a major economic activity.

Close to Bida, the natural irrigation projects of Edozhigi and Badeggi are major rice-growing undertakings. Zungeru and Kaduna being the largest towns on the river, have rail bridges.

  • Osun River- 267KM

The Osun River is a significant river in Nigeria. It originates from Ekiti and pours to the Lekki Lagoon in Lagos State as well Ogun.

Yoruba Legendary tales pointed that there was a goddess who due to provocation and trauma turned in what you have today as the flowing waters of Osun river which has turned to be a major tourist destination for Osun worshippers, Yoruba students, and indigenes of Osun State annually in the festival to revere the river goddess.

Osun is presumed to be the fertility goddess in Yorubaland. The Yorubas belief that the river goddess was able to give children to the barren and many other people’s lives have been transformed.

And there have also been several fairytales about Oshun goddess, such as that of Shegun Coker and Kolawole Michael’s cursed temple, 2008.

  • Sokoto River- 320KM

The Sokoto River is a 320 KM North-West Nigerian river tributary that has its mouth at Niger streaming across Nigeria. The source of the river is near Funtua in the south of Katsina State, in a straight line from Sokoto, about 275 kilometers away.

  • Yobe River- 1200KM

Yobe river is the second-longest river in Nigeria after the river Niger. The Yobe River, also popularly referred to by Neighboring communities as  Komadougou Yobe is a 1200KM long river that flows across Nigeria and Niger into Lake Chad in West Africa. The river takes it source from the Hadejia River, the Jama’are River, and the River Komadugu Gana.

  • Gongola River- 531KM

The Gongola River is a 531Km river in northeastern Nigeria, it is Benue River’s largest tributary and experiences seasonal streams in its upper course between August and September when it is unusually filled.

Map of Rivers in Nigeria

The rivers in Nigeria map will help you to see the layout of the rivers, waterways, and terminations as they flow from sources to coasts, uplands, uphills and as well give you a head knowledge of their locations and neighboring territories as seen on the map of Nigeria showing all the 36 States in the Nation.

 

Map of Rivers in Nigeria
Image Source: mapsofworld.com

 

List of rivers of Nigeria (wikipedia)

There are many other rivers in Nigeria, here is a full list from wikipedia

Gongola River
Goulbi de Maradi River
Benin River
Ankwe River
Hawal River
Watari River
Galma River (Nigeria)
Hadejia River
Osse River
Niger River
Ouémé River
Kaduna River
Gurara River
Pai River
Ona River (Awna River)
Great Kwa River
Teshi River
Gagere River
New Calabar River (distributary)
Otamiri River
Imo River
Ofiki River
Oba River
Cross River
Moshi River
Lake Chad
Omi Osun
Asu River
Sokoto River
Jama’are River (Bunga River)
Malendo River
Mariga River
Kano River
Ogunpa River
Anambra River
Oyan River
Ekulu River no
Yedseram River
Anyim River
Taraba River
Nun River (distributary)
Faro River
Katagum River
Benue River
Kam River
Erinle River
Osun River
Akwayafe River
Calabar River
Donga River
Yobe River
Bonny River
Otin River
Rima River
Menchum River
Tubo River
Ngadda River
Ka River
Aboine River
Wase River
Okwa River
Kwa Ibo River
Mada River
Chalawa River
Okpara River
Zamfara River
Gaminda River
Komadugu Gana River
Bantaji River (Suntai River)
Aba River
Forcados River (distributary)
Ogun River
Oli River
Katsina Ala River
Bunsuru River
Escravos River (distributary)
Chanomi Creek (distributary)

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