Friday, 13 April 2018

NIGERIA: Delta State

Delta or Delta State is an oil and agricultural producing state of Nigeria, situated in the region known as the South-South geo-political zone with a population of 4,112,445 males: 2,069,309; females: 2,043,136.

The capital city is Asaba, located at the northern end of the state, with an estimated area of 762 square kilometres (294 sq mi), while Warri is the economic nerve center of the state and also the most populated.

It is located in the southern end of the state. The state has a total land area of 16,842 square kilometres (6,503 sq mi).

The state covers a landmass of about 18,050 km², of which more than 60% is land. The state lies approximately between Longitude 5°00 and 6°.45' East and Latitude 5°00 and 6°.30' North.

It is bounded in the north and west by Edo State, the east by Anambra, Imo, and Rivers States, southeast by Bayelsa State, and on the southern flank is the Bight of Benin which covers about 160 kilometres of the state's coastline.

Delta State is generally low-lying without remarkable hills. The state has a wide coastal belt inter-lace with rivulets and streams, which form part of the Niger Delta.

Delta State was carved out of the former Bendel State on 27 August 1991.

The state was created following agitations for the creation of a separate distinct state by the peoples of the old Delta Province, the Urhobos, Ijaw Izon, Isoko, Itsekiri and Ukwuani later joined Anioma.

There was yet another state creation movement designated as Niger State comprising the old midwestern Igbo-speaking Asaba divisions and Ukwuani-speaking Aboh division of the old Midwest region.

This was transformed into Anioma following the creation of Niger State from the old Northwestern State by the Murtala Muhammed administration in 1976.

The then Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, created the state using the name Delta advanced by Niger Delta region and Asaba a prominent town within the Anioma axis as capital.

Asaba was designated as capital of the proposed Anioma State. The proposed capital was a virgin land or Anioma city in the heart of the two constituent divisions that had evolved to become the Anioma area.

Delta state was once integrated in the Mid Western state from 1963 to 1976 and later Bendel state, from 1976 to 1991.

The name Bendel derived from the old Benin and Delta Provinces of Western Region-Delta to reflect the integration of Benin and Delta provinces.

Delta State is ethnically diverse, with various linguistic stocks.

The first region is made up of three linguistic groupings, collectively referred to as Anioma.

They are of Igboid stock and composed of three main groups namely Enuani, who inhabit the Aniocha and Oshimili Local Government Areas; Ika; and Ndokwa/Ukwuani. All three inhabit the Delta North senatorial district.

The second region consists of the other three main linguistic groups: Edoid, comprising the Isoko and Urhobo; Yoruboid, Itsekiri; and Ijoid, Izon.

The Urhobo cultural extraction is the largest in the state with over 2 million native speakers.

The Itsekiri speak a language very closely related to Yoruba but have been culturally influenced by the Edo ethnic group from neighbouring Edo state, as well as the Urhobo, Ijaw and Portuguese.

The Izon are a branch of their kith and kin, in neighbouring Bayelsa State.

The vast majority of inhabitants are Christian, with very few practicing Traditional Religion.

Arthur Okowa Ifeanyi, a member of the People's Democratic Party, was elected Governor and chief executive of Delta State in April 2015.

His deputy is Barr. Kingsley Otuaro. The state has three National Senatorial Districts, South, North and Central.

In 2011 and 2013, the elected senators were James Manager, Arthur Okowa Ifeanyi and Emmanuel Aguariavwodo who replaced Pius Ewherido who died in 2013 at National Hospital, Abuja.

In 2015, Chief Ighoyeta Amori was elected Senator of Delta Central but his election was annulled and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege sworn in as Senator of Delta Central, James Manager retained his position and Chief Peter Nwaoboshi was elected Senator of Delta North.

The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Chambers are housed in Asaba with a government house annex in Warri.

There are various solid mineral deposits within state, industrial clay, silica, lignite, kaolin, tar sand, decorative rocks, limestone, etc.

These are raw materials for industries such as brick making, ceramics, bottle manufacturing, glass manufacturing, chemical/insulators production, chalk manufacturing and sanitary wares, decorative stone cutting and quarrying.

Delta state also has huge deposits of crude oil and is also one the largest producers of petroleum products in Nigeria.

Delta State has some historical, cultural and socio-political tourist centers that attract visitors from around the globe.

Tourism Sites In Delta State:

The Nana's Palace built by Chief Nana Olomu of Ebrohim. He was a powerful 19th century indigenous entrepreneur who traded with the British. The relationship eventually turned sour.

Later, he surrendered not without putting up a fight and was exiled to Ghana. His personal effects are housed in this grand palace.

The River Ethiope which is reputed to be the deepest inland waterway in Africa (at 176 km). Its source is at the foot of a giant silk-cotton tree at Umuaja in Ukwuani Local Government Area of the state and flows through seven Local Government Areas in the State.

It is a place of worship for Olokun traditional religion and also a common site for faithfuls of the Igbe Religious Movement.

The Araya Bible Site which houses a copy of the Holy Bible. It is believed that the bible descended to this spot miraculously from heaven around August, 1914. The bible dropped on rain-soaked yam and it didn't get wet.

The site now attracts thousands of Christians yearly.

Demas Nwoko Edifice which was built using traditional materials, designs and construction techniques of the Igbo civilization and the Benin Empire by Demas Nwoko, an architect, builder and artist of international repute from Idumuje-Ugboko, in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State.

The Mungo Park House which is now the site of the National Museum, Asaba. The house was constructed by the Royal Niger Company (RNC) in 1886 and was used as a colonial administrative headquarters, a military house.

It was as well the colonial administrative divisional headquarters, the RNC Constabulary building, and the seat of the Urban District Council at different times.

The Niger Bridge which connects Delta State by extension, western Nigeria to the Eastern part of Nigeria. It is a beauty to behold.

It was completed in 1965 and cost £5 million. It was damaged during the civil war, but later repaired.

Lander Brothers Anchorage, Asaba which was built in memory of early British explorers. The complex has a museum, a graveyard, and many artworks and writings. It houses a replica of one of the boats that was used by the brothers.

Warri Kingdom Royal Cemetery which is 512 year old burial ground and serves as the resting place of past rulers of Warri kingdom. A tree is planted on each grave.

Delta State is known to have produced several sportsmen and women, notably Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Sunday Oliseh, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, Wilson Oruma, Efetobore Sodje Blessing Okagbare and Jonathan Akpoborie, Cindy Ofili.

Asaba is a city strategically located on a hill at the western edge of the Niger River, overlooking its sister city, Onitsha, across the Niger Bridge.

It is the capital of Delta State Nigeria. A fast developing urban area, Asaba had a population of 149,603 as at the 2006 census, and a metropolitan population of over half a million people.

Ahaba in Enuani dialect of the great Igbo language is derived from the exclamation Ahabagom, meaning I have chosen well, a quote from the founding father Nnebisi of Asaba.

The city of Asaba was once the colonial capital of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate. It was founded in 1884. Between 1886 and 1900, it hosted the Royal Niger Company, which the British authorities set up to stimulate trade and the exportation of goods to England.

That company has grown today into UAC Nigeria PLC. Scottish explorer William B. Balkie, when signing a trade treaty with Igbo chief Ezebogo in Asaba on August 30, 1885, remarked - After our salutations, I spoke of friendship, of trade, and of education, and particularly enlarged upon the evils of war, and the benefits of peace, all of which was well received.

Owing to Asaba's influential history and geography, and current strategic political and economic influence in Nigeria, Asaba is generally known as the regional capital of the Anioma area.

The clamour for creation of Anioma state has been going on for decades.

Asaba is situated on a terrace of the lower Niger River, overlooking the point where the Anambra River flows into it.

Beyond the river banks, on the high plains which are far more extensive than the river basins, secondary forest vegetation flourishes.

The historic Niger River is a trans-African link beginning from West Africa and down into the Atlantic Ocean.

Asaba forms a connector between western, eastern and northern Nigeria through the Niger River from the north and via the Asaba Niger Bridge, an east-west link and a Nigerian landmark.

Asaba lies approximately 60 degrees north of the equator and about the same distance east of the meridian; about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of where the River Niger flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

The greater Asaba occupies an area of about 300 square kilometers. It maintains an average tropical temperature of 32 °C during the dry season and an average fertile rainfall of 2,700 millimetres (106 in) during the rainy season.

Asaba is traditionally led by the highly revered Asagba of Asaba, to whom the head or Diokpa of each of the five Ebos reports directly into on matters affecting Asaba.

Greater Asaba includes some of the other neighbouring indigenous Igbo communities—Ogwashi Ukwu, Igbuzo, Okpanam, Ugbolu and Oko, on the western section of the Niger River.

Since becoming the administrative capital of Delta State, Asaba has grown in population to over half a million very hospitable people.

Today, it maintains a cosmopolitan population of predominantly non-indigenous people. Some of the other groups in the city include Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Ukwuani, Hausa, Itsekiri and Yoruba people.

Asaba is an administrative area established during the time of the Royal Niger Company now UACN.

It is currently enjoying the status of being the administrative capital of Delta state but due to the fact that Aniocha-Oshimili people maintain the identity of being Igbo, a lot of Igbo from the east of the Niger river invest in Delta state.

Precisely at Asaba thus improving the economic fortunes of Asaba area and Delta state in general.

The government also contributes to the economic development of Asaba especially considering the established Asaba textile factory constructed by Samuel Ogbemudia administration and the power substation at Asaba.

The city of Asaba also hosts Sure life pharmaceutical company that manufactures medicines, there is also a steel mill in the city and aluminium companies manufacturing aluminum products.

The Nigerian Federal Government is also trying to capitalize on the Ubu river in the Ogwashi ukwu area of the African city through the construction of a multipurpose dam that could be useful in generating electricity.

The lake that will form behind the dam could benefit the Nigerian Navy Maritime University which is also within the city and there are possibilities that the Muhammadu Buhari led administration would complete the dam project between 2018 and 2019.

The city of Asaba and neighbouring cities are accessible by air through the Asaba international airport.

Asaba Benin express road is an important road which connects parts of eastern Nigeria with western Nigeria.

There is also a road that connects Asaba areas with Ughelli while the Asaba-Ebu road connects the city of Asaba with northern Nigeria.

Asaba is served by the water transportation available through the Niger River which surrounds most parts of the African city.

Tourism Observer
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