History of Abia State

Last Updated on January 10, 2019 by Ope Quadri

Called the God’s Own State, Abia is one of the States in Nigeria Federation which has its administrative capital in Umuahia. In this post we will tell you everything you need to know about one of the South Eastern states.

Origin of the name ABIA

The word Abia is a name derived from four most densely populated regions of the state.

A in the word represents the initial letter of the commercial city of the state which is known as Aba.

B stands for Bende.

I which is the third letter of the word represents Ishuikwuato

A stands for Afikpo which was excised at the creation of Ebonyi State.

Abia state was created on 27th of August, 1991 by the then military Government under the leadership of General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida from Imo state. Abia state is a well-known state in Nigeria.

Out of the 774 local governments areas of Nigeria only 17 local government areas belong to Abia state making it one of the smallest States in the federation of  Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abia state is located in the south East geopolitical zone of Nigeria alongside its neighborhood states such as Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Imo state. The region is mainly inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group, Aros and Ngwas, with other clans are some of the prominent tribes.


Abia state is located in the south east geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The state shares borders with some other states of the geopolitical zone.

Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi in the North and Northeast of the state, Imo state in the West, Cross River state and Akwa Ibom state in the east and south east separately and in the south is River state.

The riverine part of the state falls to the southern part which has lying topical rainforest with some oil-palm thicket.

All the southern regions of Abia state usually experience heavy downpour between the months of April through October while the rest of the state is wooded savannah and temperately on high plain.

Imo and Aba Rivers are two most important rivers in Abia state that flow into the Atlantic ocean through Akwa Ibom on the Eastern part.


Abia state is one of the states in Nigeria that is blessed with enormous mineral resources. These mineral resources have obvious contributions and implications in the economic development of the state.

These resources include crude oil, limestone, iron ore, laterite, kaolin, zinc, cooper amongst others. Agriculture is the major occupation of the people of Abia state which is caused by the vast rich soil, 70% of the population employs by this sector of the economy making it the second contributor of the economic sector of the state.

The main food crops grown are yam, cassava, rice, maize, cocoyam and potatoes while the cash crops are palm-oil, rubber, cocoa, banana and other various kinds of fruits.

However, oil and gas production contributes over 39% of the internally generated revenue of the state which makes the sector a prominent giant. Manufacturing sector also contribute 2% of the state’s GDP.

The business hub of the state is in Aba which is not the only major commercial centre of the state but also one of the commercial nerve centres of the Eastern States of Nigeria.

The city occupies many industries such as textiles, plastic, chemical, Agro-allied, oil and gas and many others. A common saying has it that taking out Aba is the end of Abia state.


Abia state has over 100 oil holes and 3 installed flow stations in the state. Abia/NNPC gas plant also forms part of the oil association.

Shell as one of the oil giants in Nigeria has most of the licenses for the oil wells in Abia state and 50 wells are estimated concentrated which are perceived high-flying.

According to the report of Chairman of Abia state oil producing Development Area Commission (ASOPADEC), Mr Samuel Okezie Onwogu, gave a summary account of production of oil and gas in the state.

The state delivered 36,000 barrels of crude oil every day ; out of the 36,000 barrels, Imoturu produces 23,000 barrels per day and Isimili flow station produces over 8,000 barrel per day.

Izaku which has four oil holes make Obigo its flow station while about 30 oil wells from the chairman’s village deliver to Umuri and eight oil wells from Umurie go to Afam. Said Mr Samuel Okezie.

The state in spite of its contributions as one of the oil producing states in Nigeria still experiences poor funding from federal allocation of oil revenue to the state.

This has caused some problems in alleviating poverty and lots of state projects to reduce the suffering of the state citizens are not fully executed.


Abia state is blessed with several higher institutions. The top of these universities was established by the Federal government of Nigeria in 1992 to function as a specialized university of Agriculture. This university was named after the Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the first Republic (Chief Michael Okpara).

The second is owned by the state government which is known as Abia State University situated in Uturu. The third and the fourth are both privately established to cater for improvement of education in the state.

They are Rhema University and Gregory University both situated in Aba and Uturu respectively. Three tertiary hospitals are in the state, the Federal Medical centre in Umuahia, Abia state Teaching hospital in Aba and Abia state college of Health Technology in Aba.

There are two polytechnic in the state, The Abia state Polytechnic which is also located in Aba and a private-owned; Covenant Polytechnic also in the city of Aba.

Other higher institutions of learning in the state include, The Abia state college of Education in Arochuckwu and  a school of Nursing in Amachara. There are many insignificant achievements in education sector through public and private contributions towards educational developments in the state.


Tourists and Travellers to Abia state can come to the state by using Owerri international Airport also known as Sam Mbakwe or Imo state Airport which is an hour drive to the state capital.

Another neighbouring airport is Port Harcourt international Airport which will take the user over 2hours to reach the state.

Also available for tourists and travellers is the rail transport which would also be suitable for comers travelling with heavy loads.

Aba is linked to Port Harcourt by rail but the present administration is on its resuscitation. Though boats and canoes are always available to have easy accessibility to coastal areas of the state.


God’s own state was formerly a part of Imo state. In 1991, the Federal Military Government carved out Abia from Imo state, and became one of the newly created states in Nigeria under General Ibrahim Babangida bringing the number of states in Nigeria to thirty.

As of today, Abia state has its administrative headquarters in Umuahia, divided into 17 local government area with each local government has its secretariat.

The native owners of this state are Igbo people and they make up to 95% of the population of the state with Igbo as their common and most used language but the official language in government offices, formal engagements and businesses is English.

Over 2.4 million population of the state are Christians. Abia people are well-known for their very hospitable and accommodating nature possibly due to their migratory essence.


Since the creation of Abia state in 1991, the state has had 8 past rulers. The first amongst the rulers was Air Vice Marshal Frank O. Ajobena, who handled the leadership mantle of the state from August 28, 1991 through January, 1992 followed by Chief Ogbonnaya Onu and after him was Chinyere Ike Nwosu who ruled from December 9, 1993 through September 14, 1994.

Temi Ejoor took the government administration on August 22, 1996. Moses Fasanya began on August 22, 1996 and ended his administration on August 1998.

Anthony Obi was the sixth past ruler of the state that started his administration on 1998 and handed down the leadership control to the first elected governor of the state when Nigeria returned to civil rule on May 29, 1999.

Orji Uzor Kalu was the 7th governor of Abia state when he contested and won the state election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

He recontested on the same platform and got a second chance to rule the state. In 2007, Theodore Orji of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) contested and won to become the 8th rule, Although, he later left his former party and was given a mandate for another four-year tenure.

The ninth Governor, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu came after Theodore Orji to occupy the highest position in the state when he contested under platform of the people’s Democratic Party in April 2015 and his administration will come to an end on May 29, 2019. Presently, he has also been given the gubernatorial ticket to contest for another four-year in office.


The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) recognises the establishment of local government areas as the third tier of government in Nigeria.

This provides a great opportunity for each state of Nigeria Federation to extend their administrative powers to the grassroot levels and bring the localists more nearer to the government.

Abia state has 17 local government areas which also subdivided into 3 senatorial districts namely;

  • Abia central,
  • Abia North and
  • Abia South.

Abia central senatorial districts

It consists of 5 local government areas which include:

  1. Ikwuano,
  2. Isiala
  3. Ngwa North,
  4. Umuahia North and
  5. Umuahia south.

Abia North senatorial zone

It comprises 5 local government areas which are;

  1. Umunneochi,
  2. Isuikwuato
  3. Ohafia,
  4. Arochukwu and
  5. Bende.

Abia South Senatorial zone

It consists of 7 local government areas of the state, the local government areas include:

  1. Aba south,
  2. Aba North,
  3. Ugwunagbo,
  4. Obi Ngwa,
  5. Ukwa East,
  6. Ukwa West and
  7. Osisioma Ngwa.

Chairman is the chief executive officer of the local government area in each of the 17 local government areas of the state. The local government areas include:

Aba North, Aba South, Arochukwu, Bende, Ikwuano, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Isuikwuato, Obingwa, Ohafia, Ukwa East, Ukwa West, Umuahia North, Umuahia South, Ugwunnagbo and Umunneochi.


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