BRIEF HISTORY OF AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

 BRIEF HISTORY OF AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

Akwa Ibom State was created on September 23, 1987, by the then-military government headed by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.  The creation of the state was the result of years of struggle by the people who occupied the mainland of the former Cross River State.

For many, the establishment of the state was a sign of justice as they had been left out of previous state formations despite having led the struggle for state formation in Nigeria through the Ibibio Union, a leading socio-cultural organization that served as a unifying platform for the people of this part of Nigeria.  In 1948, Ibibio Union, founded in 1928, transformed from a mere cultural association to a purposeful institution that advocated and fought for the creation of a state in Nigeria.

BRIEF HISTORY OF AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

However, when the 12-state structure was introduced in 1967 following the creation of states by the government of General Yakubu Gowon, the mainland part of Calabar Province in what was then Eastern Nigeria was merely part of what was then South Eastern State.  In 1976, South Eastern State was renamed Cross River State.  This name change did not satisfy the people.  Rather, it encouraged them to continue the struggle for their own state.

After the collapse of the Second Republic in 1983, a memorandum was submitted to the government of General Buhari in which the Paramount Rulers of the ten local government areas that formed the mainland part of the then Cross River State called for the creation of Akwa Ibom State, even though this did not yield the desired result.

Undaunted, the people waited for another opportunity.  That opportunity came in 1986 when the government of General Ibrahim Babangida established a political bureau to determine the future political direction of the country.  The memorandum was resubmitted.

On September 23, 1987, the collective dream of the people was realized when the state of Akwa Ibom, the "Land of Promise," was finally established after some four decades of sustained effort.

BRIEF HISTORY OF AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA


The State location lies between latitudes 4o 32" and 5o 33" North and longitudes 7o 35" and 8o 25" East and is bounded by Rivers State to the East, Cross River State to the West, Abia State to the North, and the Gulf of Guinea to the South.

Akwa Ibom State territory currently has a total area of 7,249 square kilometers.  This area does not include the disputed territories.  In terms of land mass, Akwa Ibom is the tenth largest state in Nigeria.  Approximately 13.4% of Nigeria's 960 km Atlantic coastline runs through the state.

Akwa Ibom is one of the 36 states of the Nigerian Federation.  The state is divided into 31 local government areas, with Uyo being 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 homogeneous and share a common identity. They are considered the first settlers in what is now southeastern Nigeria. The three major dialect groups are Ibibio,

Annang and Oron.  Other subgroups include Eket, Ibeno, Itu Mbonuso, and the Andonis.  English is the language of government and business.

 

BRIEF HISTORY OF AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

With an annual population growth rate of 3.4%, the 2016 population is estimated at 5,451,277;

Female 2,680,687

Male 2,770,590

Total 5,450,758


Akwa Ibom belongs to the tropical zone with predominant vegetation of green foliage of trees and shrubs. It makes up a large part of the nation's oil palm belt.  The Atlantic coast stretches 129 km from Oron in the east to Ikot Abasi in the west.

The state has three distinct vegetation zones: the saltwater swamp forest, the freshwater swamp forest, and the rainforest.

 

Akwa Ibom State has a tropical climate characterized by two distinct seasons:

The dry season (November - March, ) and the rainy season (April - October).

The rainy season is usually interrupted by a short dry period in August.  The average temperature in the state ranges from 23 to 31 degrees Celsius.

 

Main economic activities

The main economic activities of the population are fishing (for riverine and coastal residents), agriculture (mainly for mountain residents), trade, handicrafts, and white-collar services.  A robust public sector employs a significant portion of the state's labor force.

 

Growth Rate:

Akwa Ibom State's average growth rate is estimated at 3.2%.

 

Akwa Ibom is often described as a monocultural state where norms, taboos, customs, and traditions are the same.

Customs and traditions may vary from one ethnic group to another, but the operative cultural norms are basically the same throughout the state.  Cultural commonalities unite people primarily in areas such as cuisine, dress, dances, songs, rituals, folklore, beliefs, and myths.  Almost all aspects of culture have the potential to provide fascinating experiences for tourists and investment opportunities.

Asian Ubo Ikpa

Asian Uboikpa means proud and extravagant virgin. This dance is performed by girls between the ages of 18 and 25 who have successfully passed through the "Mbopo" institution. Mbopo is the time when a girl is confined, fattened, and trained in all aspects of household management in preparation for marriage. It is prevalent throughout the hinterland of the state. The Asian uboikpa performed by girls in their prime is therefore visually appealing and celebrates youthful innocence and purity in its beauty while expressing the admonition prevalent in Akwa Ibom that once chastity is lost, it is lost forever.


Asian Mbre Iban

Asian Mbre Iban is a dance performed by girls who want to show the unmarried men of the community how beautiful and eligible they are. Other female dances include Akan, Asamba, and Uwok, which are occasionally performed in the villages.

 

Oko

Oko is the male dance that is compared to the war dance because of its fierce performance. The climax of this dance begins when the dancers strike each other with razor-sharp machetes and shoot themselves with live bullets from Dane rifles. But mysteriously, not a drop of blood is spilled, as the machetes cannot penetrate the dancers' skin and the bullets do not injure any of the members of the obviously secret society. Nkerebe

Nkerebe (search for a husband) is another female dance performed once a year when young girls of puberty age prepare for the Mboppo ceremony.


Ebre

There is also the dance of the women of the Ebre society, which is performed every year during the harvest of the new yam. On this occasion, the women dance in the marketplace and in the neighboring villages. The dance is not only for entertainment but also as a conscious protest against what is considered male chauvinism, which is reflected in the vulgarity of some song lyrics.


Ndok Ufok Ebe

The Ndok Ufok Ebe (Shame of a Bad Marriage) is another women's dance used by women to express their displeasure at the mistreatment of women by their husbands. The dance is performed once a year. It is accompanied by songs in which the community tells of their plight. Often the women have to go topless to the market.

 

AKWA IBOM STATE ANTHEM:



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