Nigeria was part of the Songhai Empire prior to coming under the influence of the British Empire. Since most of Nigeria fell under the influence of this Muslim Empire, the benefits of Islamic learning and culture flowed into Nigeria. There was a golden age of learning in Nigeria as members of the Songhai empire brought their culture to the area.
When the Songhai collapsed in 1591, Moroccans moved in. Unable to extend their control over the entire region, parts of Nigeria remained independent.
It was about this time the city of Borno used its might and influence to take back much of Nigeria. It dominated the region into the 18th century. The decline in Borno’s power occurred for many reasons. Competition between other city-states caused friction. Military threats from the outside arrived. The main reason for the decline was a drought which ravaged the middle of the Borno empire. Prior to the arrival of the British there were clashes between Muslim armies, some of which became full-blown jihads.
England became a major trade partner in the slaver trade, a trade in which Nigerian merchants became a major player. 85% of the ships trading in the region were from England, which eventually led to the establishment of British trading posts and a quickly increasing sphere of influence.