Niger Delta area in Nigeria; States in Niger Delta, & All to Know

Niger Delta area in Nigeria; States in Niger Delta, & All to Know
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The Niger Delta area in Nigeria is a region with tons of historical controversy and feuds. If you live in Nigeria, you must have heard of the Niger Delta Militants and the Niger Delta Crisis.

This is definitely not the first time you hear about the region. This post covers the states in the area and everything to know about the popular region.

Probably, you’re reading this to know more about Niger Delta and the states in Niger Delta.

Social and print media have carved a ghastly image of the region. It almost seems like oil spills, violence, insecurity, and political clashes are the only things that happen in the region.

This article aims to change the narrative and shed light on some of the causes of the Niger Delta crisis.

It covers everything you need to know about the region.

Niger Delta area in Nigeria; States in Niger Delta, & All to Know

Introduction to Niger Delta

The Niger Delta area in Nigeria is a vast region through which the River Niger drains into the Gulf of Guinea.

You can say it is the Delta of the Niger River located directly on the Gulf of Guinea.

It is located in the south-south geo-political zone of the country and is the largest oil-producing region in the country. 

The region has several states known as the Niger Delta States.

They include;

  • Cross River
  • Edo
  • Imo
  • Akwa-Ibom
  • Abia, Rivers
  • Ondo
  • Bayelsa, and
  • Delta states.
Niger delta States
Map showing the Niger delta states

According to the map of Niger Delta States, however, Cross River is the only non-oil producing state here.

Related: Obudu Cattle Ranch (Obudu Mountain Resort); All You Should Know

Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Rivers, Delta, and Bayelsa are the South-South states of Nigeria.

On the map of Nigeria, the Niger Delta covers 70,000 km2 (27,000 sq mi), which makes up about 7.5% of the nation’s landmass.

Some of the region’s landmarks include brackish mangrove thickets, freshwater swamps, levees, oxbow lakes, and river meander belts. 

The region is very vital to Nigeria’s economy because of its oil-producing capacity and agricultural produce.

Niger delta oil residues have made Nigeria become West Africa’s largest petroleum producer, with about 2 million barrels (320,000m3) produced per day from the oil-producing states

History of Niger Delta area in Nigeria

This aspect will take you through some of the causes of violence in the Niger Delta over the years.

One thing is certain, oil was and is still one of the major causes of the Niger Delta conflict. 

The past and current Niger Delta conflicts started in the colonial era.

It was majorly due to feuds between oil corporations over oil wells and minority groups feeling exploited by the government and the oil corporations.

The tussle for oil wells and the immense wealth that come with them served as fuel for violence, kidnappings, and killings between ethnic groups in the region throughout the 1990s.

The Civil War (1967-1970) saw the death and destruction of many in the Niger Delta Region, with the people of the eastern region experiencing the heaviest losses.

The eastern region, renamed ‘Biafra,’ declared independence from Nigeria.

This led to a series of attacks and assaults from the Federal Government that eventually led to its defeat. 

Related: Military Coups in Nigeria; All to Know

One of the most historical events in the Niger Delta region was the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni people.

This peaceful movement demanded environmental and social justice from the Federal Government.

They demanded that the government fix bad roads, build quality schools and hospitals, and ensure the region’s overall development since the government was making a ton of wealth from the oil in the region.

Their demands also included compensation for many who have lost their businesses and homes due to environmental pollution.

However, these demands were met with brute force, with the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa and nine other forerunners of the movement being case studies.

You can download a concise account of the life and death of Ken Saro Wiwa.

Throughout the years, militant groups started surfacing, and a massive wave of insecurity and insurgency swept throughout the area. 

Agitations are still looming in the region to this very moment.

However, the government is making plans to resolve the Niger Delta Crisis and bury the hatchet once and for all. 

Oil Discovery and How it affects the Niger Delta. 

Oil was first discovered in the region in 1956 in Oloibiri, present-day Bayelsa State.

It has been non-stop oil exploration and production since then.

The proceeds from oil exportation and processing in Nigeria have greatly influenced the country’s economy.

Oil provides 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and 80% of the government’s budgetary revenues.

However, the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta area in Nigeria has led to a series of uprising and violence in the region (Niger Delta Crisis).

It feels like the natural resource is more of a curse than a blessing.

The situation in the Niger Delta is further proof that oil and politics can be a sour mix. 

The discovery of oil in the region has led to environmental pollution and degradation, low standard of living, insecurity, political feuds, civil war, and the death of thousands of Nigerians over the years. 

Top Reads.

Top States in Niger Delta

Ondo State

Ondo State (capital: Akure) was created on February 3, 1976, from the then Western State.

It is one of the country’s oil-rich states, making it of great value and importance to the economy. 

The big towns and cities in Ondo state are Akure, Owo, Okitipupa, and Ikare.

There are 18 local government areas in Ondo, the most populated being Ondo West, Akure South, Ilaje, and Odigbo. 

In addition to its potential in oil production, the region is popular for its agricultural produce.

In fact, Ondo is Nigeria’s chief cocoa-producing state.

It also produces other food and cash crops such as;

  • Tobacco
  • Rubber
  • Timber
  • Palm oil, and
  • Cotton. 

The majority of the state dwellers are Yoruba people from sub-ethnic groups like Akure, Ilaje, Owo, Ondo, Akoko, and Owo. 

The most iconic and attractive places to visit in Ondo state are;

  • Idanre Hills
  • Okomu National Park
  • Owo Museum of Antiquities
  • Caves of Ashes Isarun
  • Ebomi Lake
  • Akure Township Stadium, and
  • The Smoking Hills Golf Resort.

Imo State

Located in the southeast region of Nigeria is Imo State, also known as the Eastern Heartland.

Owerri is the state’s capital and is one of its major economic hubs.

Other significant towns in the state are;

  • Okigwe
  • Obowo
  • Oguta
  • Mbano
  • Orlu, and
  • Mbaise. 

The state was created on February 3, 1976, and currently has an estimated population of 5 million dwellers.

Related: Most Populated State in Nigeria; Top 10

Owerri is one of the southeast region’s top trade centers, with goods such as corn, palm products, rubber, cassava, and yams being exported. 

Imo State has 27 local government areas, some of which include Ikeduru, Ehime Mbano, Ideato North, and Ahiazu Mbaise.

The predominant ethnic group in Imo State are the Igbos, taking as much as 98% of the total population. 

There is an unending number of exciting spots and views in Imo State in terms of hotels, restaurants, villages, rivers, beaches, etc.

The most prestigious university in Imo State is the Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

Other notable mentions include Imo State University, Eastern Palm University, and Hezekiah University. 

Imo State is regarded as the richest state in igboland.

Edo State

Edo State holds a lot of cultural heritage and history in Nigeria and amongst countries all over the world.

Also, there are several tourist attractions in Edo State to catch your attention.

Its capital, Benin City, is known worldwide as the source of outstanding works of art like;

  • The Bronze Head of Queen Idia
  • Benin Ivory mask
  • The portrait of King Osemwende,
  • Horse and Rider, etc.

These artworks can be found in various museums all over the globe.

Many argue that these designs are far more precious to Nigeria than the oil residues.

The state was created out of the former Bendel State on August 27, 1991, and is estimated to be home to 8 million people.

There are 18 local government areas in Edo State, including Egor, Igueben, Oredo, Owan East, Esan West, and Etsako East.

The main ethnic groups in the region include Etsako, Owans, Akoko Edos, Binis, and Esans.

Other minority groups living in the state are Ijaw Izons, Itsekiris, Igbira, Igbanke, and Urhobos. 

Cross-River

Cross River State is named after a river that rises from the Cameroon Mountains and flows southward, forming a large part of the state’s Western border.

Benue borders the state to the North, Ebonyi to the West, Akwa-Ibom to the Southwest, and Cameroon to the East. 

On May 27, 1967, the state was created from the then Eastern Region during the General Yakubu Gowon era.

The state capital, Calabar, is a region rich in cultural heritage, has several tourist attractions, and is very important to the land’s overall development. 

Related: Obudu Cattle Ranch (Obudu Mountain Resort); All You Should Know

Ejagham is the most predominant language in the region, but English and French are still well-spoken.

The ethnic groups in the region include;

  • Efik
  • Yala
  • Igede
  • Ukelle
  • Bekwarra
  • Eghajam, and
  • Yakurr. 

The region’s natural resources include clay, granite, basalt, salt, kaolin, limestone, and quartzite.

Cross-River is the only non-oil producing state in the south south. 

Rivers

Rivers State is home to many ethnic groups, including Ogoni, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Ekpeye, etc.

As a cultural melting point, the region is filled with various languages, including Obolo, Degema, Abua, Ogoni, Tee, Ukwuani-Aboh-Ndoni, and a dozen other language dialects. 

The largest city in the region is Port-Harcourt, and it serves as the capital.

Port-Harcourt is the center of Nigeria’s oil industry, making it very vital to the nation’s overall economy. 

Asides from oil, however, the region is also known for fishing and farming.

Crops such as cassava, oil palms, rubber, citrus fruits, plantains, bananas, and raffia are produced and exported in the region. 

Some of the landmarks in the region are rivers, swamps, mangroves, and tropical rainforest.

Not surprisingly, water is the principal means of transport in the region, especially in the western part. 

Akwa-Ibom State

Created on September 3, 1987, by Ibrahim Babangida, Akwa-Ibom State is a coastal state in the south-south part of Nigeria.

The area was formerly part of Cross-River before the separation. 

Akwa-Ibom State (capital: Uyo) is currently Nigeria’s highest oil and gas producing state.

The state has 31 local government areas, with the Ibibio, Annang, Oron, and Obolo making up a substantial portion of these areas’ total population.

The dwellers of Akwa-Ibom State speak various dialects of the Ibibio-Efik language, just like their Efik neighbors of Cross-River State.

The major towns and cities in the state are;

  • Uyo
  • Ikot Ekpene
  • Eket
  • Etinan
  • Obolo
  • Esit Eket, etc. 

The government of the state has made it a point of interest to improve the region’s standard of education.

Some of the established Universities in the region include;

  • Obong University
  • University of Uyo
  • Akwa Ibom State University
  • Heritage Polytechnic, and
  • School of Nursing, Uyo. 

Abia State

Abia State (capital: Umuahia) was founded on August 27, 1991.

The commercial and economic hotspot of the region is Aba.

The city is often regarded as a place where one can find and purchase everything and anything.

The Ariaria International market is located in the city and is one of the biggest markets in Africa.

You will also find the biggest cattle market in the country in Abia State.

It is fondly known as God’s Own State and has a growing population, currently estimated to be about 4.2 million.

Many people don’t know this, but the name “Abia” was coined from the abbreviation of Abia’s most populated regions – Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato, and Afikpo. 

The Igbo people make up about 95% of the total population, making the Igbo language the most spoken language in the state.

The region consists of 17 local government areas, including Ukwa East, Ohafia, Umuahia North, Aba South, and Ikwuano. 

Some notable individuals that hail from Abia State are;

  • Alvan Ikoku (Educationist)
  • Alex Ekubo (Nollywood actor)
  • Basketmouth (Comedian)
  • Chinyere Kalu (Nigeria’s first female pilot), amongst others. 

There are four universities in Abia State, namely;

  • Michael Okpara University of Agriculture
  • Gregory University
  • Abia State University, and
  • Rhema University. 

There are several tourist attractions in Abia state for you to explore.

Related: Festivals in Abia State; No 3 will Surprise You

Bayelsa State

Bayelsa is a coastal state located at the core of the Niger Delta area in Nigeria.

The primary language spoken in the state is Ijaw, but English is the official language, like many states in Nigeria.

Judging from the state’s primary language, it is not surprising that the Ijaw people are the most predominant ethnic group in the region. 

Bayelsa state is packed with oil residues, a feature that gives the state the nickname “Glory of all Lands.”

The state’s capital is Yenogoa, and there are eight local government areas and several places of attraction in the state.

Some of the most notable individuals from Bayelsa State include;

  • Goodluck Jonathan (former President of Nigeria)
  • Timaya (musical artist)
  • Major Isaac Adaka Boro (Civil War hero), and
  • Finidi George (Super Eagles player). 

Related: Top 50 Richest Musician in Nigeria; A Complete List (Updated)

Delta State

Delta State is one of the top states in the Niger Delta region and is regarded as one of the most blessed states in Nigeria.

It was created on August 27, 1991, following the demand for independent states by the Urhobos and Anioma regions in the South under the rule of General Ibrahim Babangida.

It was named after the delta region of the River Niger. 

Warri is the economic hub and most populous region in the state; however, Asaba remains the capital.

Other major towns and cities in the state include;

  • Sapele
  • Ughelli
  • Warri
  • Agbor
  • Sapele
  • Koko
  • Ozoro, and
  • Oghara.

Oshimili North is one of the most famous Delta State local governments.

Other notable mentions include Ika South, Ndokwa East, Ughelli North, and Warri North. 

The land in the region is suitable for agriculture and fishing.

However, these resources are currently threatened by severe environmental pollution caused by oil spillage and pipe bursts.

Delta State is one of the wealthiest states in the Niger Delta.

It is known for producing and exporting large quantities of rice, cassava, maize, yam, rubber, timber, palm kernels, etc.

Also, the state is one of the top palm oil-producing states in Nigeria, boosting the country’s status as one of the leading five producers of palm oil worldwide.

Industries that thrive in the region deal with rubber, natural gas, furniture, glass, bottles, plastic, and sawmilling. 

Delta State history tells us that the region was an integral part of Bendel State before it was named an independent state in 1991.

The name “Ben-Del” was coined from the old Benin and Delta provinces to represent the two states’ amalgamation. 

The state has an estimated population of 4.2 million people with various ethnic groups living as indigenes within its borders.

Some of these ethnic groups are the Urhobo, Ijaw, Ika, Isoko, Igobo, Olukumi, and Itsekiri people, with the Urhobo being the most predominant in number. 

There exists a couple of Delta State colleges and Universities, the most popular of which is the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka.

Other colleges and universities in the region include;

Delta State Destinations

A trip to Delta State promises to be a thrilling and fulfilling one.

You will be introduced to the best experience anyone could have on visiting the Southern region of the country.

There are many interesting sites to visit either alone or with family and friends.

One of these places is the Abraka River Resort Motel.

The resort is a beautiful relaxation spot with its sandy beach surrounded by a magnificent body of water flowing through a fairly large forest filled with various beautiful creatures. 

Warri also has its own;

  • Township Stadium
  • The Delta Mall
  • The Abraka Turf and Country Club
  • Chief Nana’s Palace
  • The Palace of the Olu of Warri, and
  • A ton of other epic locations.

Moving away from the big cities and towns, some of the villages in Delta State also promise to be fun, especially in the traditional way. 

Niger Delta States Governors in 2020

S/NNiger Delta StateGovernor
1EdoGodwin Obaseki
2RiversEzenwo Nyesom Wike
3Cross RiverBenedict Ayade
4DeltaIfeanyi Okowa
5ImoHope Uzodinma
6OndoOluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu
7Akwa – IbomUdom Gabriel Emmanuel
8BayelsaDuoye Diri
9AbiaOkezie Ikpeazu
Table showing Niger Delta States and their governors.

How to resolve the Niger Delta Conflict?

The Niger Delta area in Nigeria has experienced conflict since the colonial era, with the majority and minority groups making demands and sometimes passing across their messages through violent means.

Rulers and leaders failed to make any progress to peacefully subdue violence in the region until amnesty was declared by the Yar’adua/Jonathan administration in 2009.

However, violence’s ugly head has risen once again in the region, and it seems like the efforts of the heroes past will be in vain. 

Sources claim that the former measures have not been effective and long-lasting because they do not really address the issues and complaints that gave birth to the conflict and the use of brute force in response to some of them. 

According to an article by Angela Ajodo-Adebannoko in the African Journal of Conflict Resolution, the government should consider applying a Collective Non-Violent Conflict Management Approach in dealing with the agitations in the region.

This measure will involve a group of local and international negotiators, an international mediator, and of course, the parties involved in the conflict. 

The government should also seek methods to provide compensation for the families of individuals caught and killed in the middle of all the violence and insecurity. 

Related: 17 Current Problems of Education in Nigeria & Possible Solutions

Other challenges facing the Niger Delta area in Nigeria

The challenges facing the Niger Delta region span far beyond clashes over oil wells and the rebellion of minority groups.

Various environmental challenges threaten the health and standard of living of the region’s dwellers.

Some of these challenges include;

  • Oil spills
  • Loss of mangrove forests
  • Natural gas flaring, and
  • Water hyacinth invasion.

These issues, combined with the existing oil wells and ethnic feuds, have severely stunted the growth of a region rich in one of the world’s most valuable natural resources. 

Companies and corporations are refusing to set up their business in the region due to fear of destruction of property and their workers’ death, which has led to skyrocketing levels of unemployment in the region.

Also, farmers and fishermen are put out of business due to poor soil and water conditions caused by oil spillage.

The region’s overall condition has pushed many individuals, especially youths, to engage in violent and illegal activities to make ends meet or lash out in anger and frustration. 

Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

The NDDC was established in the year 2000 under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to help facilitate the development of the oil-producing states of the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria.

One of the commission’s primary functions is to ensure the building and equipping of social and physical infrastructures as well as to handle the demands of the minority and majority groups in the region.

The Niger Delta area in Nigeria has probably experienced the largest and fiercest communal conflict in Nigeria. A body needed to be set up to help mitigate the aftermath of decades of insecurity and keep the peace. 

The current acting Managing Directot of NDDC is Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei. 

The Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC)

OSOPADEC was established in 1991 to oversee the development of the oil-rich and impacted areas of Ondo State.

The commission envisions to be the most proactive and responsive interventionist agency that satisfies stakeholders’ aspirations with excellence in service delivery. 

The current chairman of OSOPADEC is Hon. Gbenga Edema. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Niger Delta Area in Nigeria

Is Agbor Delta Igbo?

In case you did not know, Agbor is a kingdom in Ika South, Delta State, Nigeria, and the natives of this region are known as the Ika people.

Historically, the Ika people have been said to be related to the Igbos.

However, this is untrue. Ika people speak the Ika dialect of the Edo people, which Igbos have trouble understanding.

The indigenes of Agbor have no ancestral ties to the Igbos, so the answer to this question is NO. 

This misconception is just one of the many relationships between Igbos and Niger Delta. 

Is Anambra an oil-producing state?

Anambra is now known as an oil-rich state, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the region became an oil-producing state.

In conjunction with major stakeholders of Orient Petroleum, the administration of Governor Peter Obi saw to it that oil exploration started in the state, and that was when they struck oil in the Anambra River basin.

So, yes, Anambra is an oil-producing state. 

Is the Niger Delta part of Biafra?

Some states of the Niger Delta region have always been part of the area called Biafra.

In fact, Biafra has had quite an influence on Niger Delta culture.

Indigenes of the region suffered environmental degradation and high rates of unemployment due to oil spills, which was amongst the reasons they identify with this group. 

Is Imo State part of Niger Delta?

Imo State is located in the South East region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Alongside other states, Imo is considered a member state of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and only states regarded as part of the Niger Delta qualify for membership.

In simpler terms, Imo State is part of the Niger Delta. 

Which states make up the Niger Delta?

According to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), nine states make up the Niger Delta.

The Niger Delta States are;

  • Bayelsa
  • Cross-River
  • Delta
  • Imo
  • Ondo
  • Akwa-Ibom
  • Edo
  • Rivers, and
  • Abia. 

Where is Niger Delta in Nigeria?

Geographically, Niger Delta is located in Southern Nigeria.

Which state is the richest oil state in Nigeria?

Akwa Ibom state produces 504,000 BDP (barrels per day), making it Nigeria’s largest oil producer and indirectly the nation’s richest oil state and one of Nigeria’s wealthiest states.

This outstanding figure means Akwa-Ibom State produces about 31.4% of all the oil in the country, followed by Delta (21.56%), Rivers (21.43%), and Bayelsa (18.07%). 

Is Edo State among Niger Delta?

YES. 

Edo state is one of nine states in the Niger Delta region and is located in the Western part of the region. 

Final Thoughts on the Niger Delta Area in Nigeria

The Niger Delta Area has suffered enough in terms of insurgency and insecurity. It is high time the government found a long-lasting solution to the feuds in the region.

The country will develop faster if the agitations in the Niger Delta area in Nigeria are taken care of the right way. 

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