“Institutions matter” has become a generally accepted premise in development economics. The growth and development problems in Nigeria are also common knowledge. To better understand these problems a proper characterization of institutions in Nigeria is essential. Conducting empirical test of the role of institutions in Nigeria’s growth and development can prove challenging due to lack of institutional data set that span over a long time. In the event that short span data set is available, Glaeser et al. (2004) highlight the many flaws implicit in such measures constructed by political scientists in literature. In this paper, we construct an index of institution quality for the period 1862 through to 2011 for Nigeria, in doing so, we adopt a new method of measuring institutions, which makes use of pre-existing (de jure) legislations, ordinances and constitutions in constructing three institutional indicators; civil and political liberties, freehold property rights, and non-freehold (customary) property rights. These constructed indicators provide a platform for characterization and comprehensive analysis of how institutions have
evolved in Nigeria.