Akwa Ibom State was created on the 23rd of September 1987 by the then Military Administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. The creation of the State brought to fruition years of prolonged struggle by the people that occupied the mainland part of the former Cross River State.
For many, the creation of the State was a mark of justice, having been left out in earlier state creation exercises despite leading in the struggle for state creation in Nigeria, through the Ibibio Union, – a foremost Socio-Cultural organization that served as a unifying platform for the people of this part of Nigeria. In 1948, Ibibio Union, formed in 1928, transformed from a mere cultural association to a goal driven institution which promoted and championed the cause of state creation in Nigeria.
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However, when in 1967 the 12 state structure was established following the creation of states by the General Yakubu Gowon administration, the Mainland part of Calabar Province in the then Eastern Nigeria was merely part of the then South Eastern State. In 1976, South Eastern State was renamed Cross River State. This change in name did not satisfy the people. Rather, it encouraged them to carry on with the struggle for a state of their own.
After the collapse of the 2nd Republic in 1983, a memorandum demanding the creation of Akwa Ibom State was submitted to the General Buhari Administration by the Paramount Rulers from the 10 Local Government areas that made up the mainland part of the then Cross River State, even thoughit did not yield the desired result.
Undaunted, the people waited for another opportunity. The opportunity came when, in 1986, the Administration of General Ibrahim Babangida set up a political Bureau to define the future political direction of the country. The memorandum was re-submitted.
On September 23, 1987, the collective dream of the people was actualized as Akwa Ibom State, the “Land of Promise” was finally created, after about four decades of sustained agitation.
Lying between Latitudes 4o 32” and 5o 33” North and Longitudes 7o 35” and 8o 25” East, the State is bounded on the East by Rivers State, on the West by Cross River State, on the North by Abia State and on the South by the Gulf of Guinea. see also Delta state current affairs
Akwa Ibom State currently covers a total land area of 7,249 square kilometers. The area does not take into consideration disputed territories. It is the 10th largest state in Nigeria in terms of landmass. About 13.4 percent of the 960km of Nigeria’s Atlantic Ocean coastline runs through the State.
Local Government Areas
Akwa Ibom is one of the 36 States in the Nigerian Federation. The State is divided into 31 local government areas with Uyo as the State capital. Other major towns include; Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi, Oron, Abak, Itu, Etinan, Ibeno, etc.
The people of Akwa Ibom State are culturally homogenous with a common identity and are reputed to be the first settlers in the present day South Eastern Nigeria. The three major dialectal groups are Ibibio,
Annang and Oron. Other sub groups include Eket, Ibeno, Itu Mbonuso and the Andonis. English is the language of government and business.
With the annual growth rate of the population projected at 3.4%, the 2016 projected population is estimated at 5,451,277 people as follows;
Akwa Ibom falls within the tropical zone with a dominant vegetation of green foliage of trees and shrubs. It constitutes a major chunk of the nation’s oil-palm belt. The Atlantic coastline stretches 129km from Oron in the East to Ikot Abasi in the West.
The State also has three distinct vegetation zones: the saline water swamp forest, the fresh water swamp forest and the rain forest.
Akwa Ibom State has a tropical climate marked by two distinct seasons:
The dry season (November – March, ) and
The Wet season April – October).
The wet season is usually interrupted by a short dry period in August. Average temperature of the State ranges from 23 to 31 degrees centigrade.
Main Economic Activities
The main economic activities of the people are fishing (for riverine and coastal dwellers), farming (mostly for upland dwellers), trading, artisanship and white-collar services. A robust public sector employs significant proportion of the State labour force.
Akwa Ibom State Average Growth Rate is estimated at 3.2%
Akwa Ibom is often described as a uni-cultural State where norms, taboos, customs and traditions are the same.
The folkways may vary from one ethnic grouping to another, but the operational cultural norms are basically the same all over the State. The cultural similarities bind the people together especially in such areas as cuisines, dressing, dances, songs, rituals, folklores, beliefs and myths. Almost all aspects of its culture have potentials to provide fascinating experiences for tourists and for investment opportunities.
Asian Ubo Ikpa
Asian Uboikpa means the proud and flamboyant maiden. This dance is performed by maidens between the age of 18 years and 25 years who have successfully gone through the ‘Mbopo’ institution. Mbopo being the period a girl is confined, fattened and drilled on all aspects of home management in preparation for marriage. It is common in almost all the hinterland of the State. Performed by maidens at their prime, Asian Uboikpa therefore is in its visual appeal and celebrates and affirm the youthful innocence and purity in their beauty, while showcasing the popular admonition among the Akwa Ibom people that chastity once lost is lost forever.
Oko is the male dance which is likened to the war dance because of its ferocious displays. The climax of this dance starts when the dancers’ start slashing at one another with razor sharp machetes and firing at themselves with live bullets from Dane guns. But mysteriously, not a drop of blood is shed as the machetes cannot penetrate the skin of the dancers, or the bullets hurt any of the members of what is obviously a secret society.
Nkerebe (looking for husband) is another women dance, performed once a year when young girls at the age of puberty prepare to perform the Mboppo nceremony.
Asian Mbre Iban
Asian Mbre Iban are dances performed by maidens who wish to inform unmarried men of the community how beautiful and eligible they are. Other women dances include Akan, Asamba and Uwok which is performed in the villages occasionally.
Ndok Ufok Ebe
The Ndok Ufok Ebe (shame of a bad marriage) is another women dance to express their grievances over maltreatment of women by their husbands. The dance is performed once a year. It is accompanied by songs telling the community about their plight, often, it involves going topless to the market place.
There is also the Ebre society women dance performed yearly during harvesting of new yam. During this occasion, women dance to the market place and neighbouring villages. The dance is not only meant to entertain but as well as deliberate protest against what is regarded as male chauvinism, which is reflected in the vulgarity of some of the song texts.
This is a beautiful sand beach which stretches to James Town on the Atlantic, providing recreational facilities with excellent opportunities for water sporting. Other impressive beaches are at Eket, Ikot Abasi, Adadia, Nwaniba, Uta Ewa and Oron.
This is the iconic building where Lord Lugard, the colonial governor, amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914, making Nigeria one geographical entity. It was also where cease-fire was declared in 1970 to end the Nigeria Civil War.
Oron Museum, Oron
The museum houses some finest carvings, relics, artifacts and other valuable antiquities such as masquerade costumes, traditional/instruments, pottery. The museum also contains an attractive, shaded water front garden where you can watch small boats drifting on the creeks.
National Museum, Uyo
The national museum houses relics, artifacts, carvings and valuable antiquities related to the people of Akwa Ibom State.
Lord Lugard Residence
This is a one-storey cottage where Lord Lugard lived during the amalgamation period and it is located opposite the amalgamation house. This site was claimed to be the first administrative headquarters of the region before it was relocated to Calabar.
Mbo Forest Game Reserve, Mbo
The forest Reserve is rich in wildlife, trees and indigenous plants.
Slave Masters Lodge, Okopedi, Itu
The Itu River was a renowned slave trade route and the old jetty still stands. There are a number of old prison-like warehouses where slaves were kept to await shipment via the Itu River. The main lodge was the residence of the white slave merchants who occupied the area. This is a one-story house, much complex and beautifully constructed.
Presbyterian Church, Itu
The Presbyterian Church was built by the famous missionary Mary Slessor who stopped the killing of twins amongst the people of the region.
Mary Slessor House Tomb
The monuments are spots where Mary Slessor was buried and the house she lived before her death situated around Ikot Oron/Itu village in the state.
Royal Niger Boat Yard
The boat yard is located behind Lugard’s house, it is a large boat yard where merchant ships were built and repaired. There exist some old boats and canoes of all sizes in the yard which is an indication of the extensive businesses carried out in the area in the past.
Sculptural Women Monument
The sculptural monument was erected to commemorate the heroic sacrifices of women killed in the famous women war of 1929 against the imposition of tax on women by the colonial government.
Ibom Plaza, Uyo
The monument which symbolizes the unity of the people of Akwa Ibom State, stands in the centre of the roundabout. It is a delightful art-piece, skirted with dazzling selection of uniquely beautiful flowers. The plaza has an open theatre, doubled-rolled water fountain with in the plaza, and shopping centre.
Festivals held in Akwa Ibom State
Annual feast and ritual worship in honour of Uruan clan deity. It is accompanied by masquerade displays and merrymaking usually in August-Septembre.
An entertainment festival that witnesses the display of colourful masquerades. It is meant to re-establish peace, love and order and to publicly disgrace transgressors. Mid-June–End of September.
Ekpe Outings Festival
A feast for protection of farm crops and domestic animals. They are displayed by beautiful masquerades. It is celebrated by Uruan and Oron people. This is from March to early April.
Ekpiri Akata Festival
This is a public outing meant to expose anti-social behaviours through songs sung mainly at night by masked performers. It is common in Itu and Uruan LGA. It takes place between January and March.
Eset (Ise) Feast Festival
A feast to pay tribute to the warriors in Ukana Clan. July/August.
The Feat Of Etefia Deity Festival
A clan celebration of appeasement and thanksgiving to the communal deity of Uyo, Ikono and people in Ini Local Government Areas. July / August.
Ikon And Ebre Festival
Ikon (Melon)Festival and Ebre (Water Yam Festival) are thanksgiving for a good year’s harvest of melon and water yam accompanied by dances and music. Aug./Sept.
Iso Awa-Itam Feast Festival
A thanksgiving and appeasement celebration to the deity of Awa Itam. An occasion to mark clan re- union. Mark in July, August/December.
Feast Of Anyan Festival
For appeasement of the communal deity of Otoro clan in Ikot Ekpene.July/August.
New Yam Festival
A Thanksgiving feast to the gods and ancestors for yam harvest in Ikot Ekpene, Ikono, Nsit Ubium, Ibino etc. July / August.
Mbre Mmong Festival
This is a biannual aquatic (Mid-January and Mid- March) festival connected with a fertility cult and ancestral worship in Nsit Ubium. The celebration is accompanied by a Boat regatta.
Biannual feast for the appeasement of the gods and ancestors during the time of harvest at Idu-Uruan November/December.
Nkuku Atan Festival
Period of appeasement and thanksgiving to the gods and communal deity by Ibiakpan clan in Nsit Ubium in November.
Obodom Eyong (Drum In The Sky Festival)
Obodom Eyong (Drum in the Sky festival) is a thanksgiving ritual to the gods performed once every seven years, in Ikono and Afaha Obong November.
Traditional Wrestling Festival
Traditional wrestling festival celebration organized to commemorate the outing ceremony of young maidens in Oron/Oruku areas.
Usoro Abasi Festival
Thanksgiving and appeasement of the communal gods before the celebration of the New Yam in Ikono. This is in August.
Usoro Ubine Ikot Festival
It is a hunting expedition and lifting of sanctions on placed seven-year fallow farmlands for cultivation in Ikono- Ndiya. It takes place between February and March.
Usoro Ekpo Festival
Ekpo is founded on the belief in life after death, and it is regarded as the soul or ghost of ancestors that return to the land of the living in masquerade form to participate with their kinsmen in communal festivals such as farming and rites of passage. As a secret society, membership is strictly by initiation; hence, every aspect of Ekpo is designed to strike awe, fear and caution among women and non-initiates.In the pre-colonial era, Ekpo served as the government of the entire Akwa Ibom people performing such functions as judicial, administrative and religious duties.
See also Abia current affairs.
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