AKWA IBOM STATE: A PROFILE
Akwa Ibom State, the “Land of Promise”, was created on 23rd September, 1987 by the Military Administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida after 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 the country.
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
When in 1967 the state structure was established following the creation of 12 states by the General Yakubu Gowon administration, the mainland part of Calabar Province in the then Eastern Nigeria was merely a part of the South Eastern State. In 1976, the South Eastern State was renamed Cross River State. This change in name did not satisfy the people rather it encouraged them to carry the struggle to the next level.
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 of the 10 local government areas that formed the mainland part of the former Cross River State. This was another unsuccessful attempt.
Undaunted, the people waited for another opportunity. That opportunity came when General Ibrahim Babangida, the Military President who succeeded General Muhammbdu Buhari set up a political bureau in 1986 to define the political future of the country. The memorandum for the creation of Akwa Ibom State was re-submitted to the political bureau.
On September 23, 1987, the collective dream of the people was actualised as Akwa Ibom State “Land of promise” was finally created, after about four decades of sustained agitation.
Lying between Latitudes 4o 32” and 5 o 33” North and Longitudes 7o 35” and 8o 25” East, Akwa Ibom 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.
Akwa Ibom State 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.
Akwa Ibom is one of the 36 states in the Nigerian Federation. The State is made up of 31 local government areas with Uyo as the State capital. Other major towns include; Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi, Oron, Abak, Itu, Etinan, Ibiaku Ntok Okpo, ikot Akpan Ntuk.
The people of Akwa Ibom State are culturally homogenous with a common identity and are reputed to be the first settlers in 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.
Based on the 2016 projected population figures, the state has a population of 5,451,278 people. Over 70 percent of the people live in the rural areas. The current annual growth rate of the population is projected at 3.4%, with the average population density of 680 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Rural distribution = 3,634,185 people
Urban distribution = 1,817,093 people
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:
Dry Season (November – March,) and Wet Season April – October).
Barring variations occasioned by climate change, 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.