History of Anambra State, Past Governors From 1976 Till Date

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Last updated on November 24th, 2021 at 08:26 pm

Anambra is one of the 36 states in Nigeria, and her capital is Awka. Nicknamed the “Light of the Nation”, Anambra is located in the southeastern part of the country and has grown to become one of the most developed states in the country. It’s home to the historic port city of Onitsha – which is regarded as the biggest urban area in the State.

The old Anambra state was created on February 3, 1976, by the military regime of Gen. Murtala Muhammed while the new Anambra was created on the 27th of August 1991.

It is one of the 11 states in Nigeria that attracted foreign investments in 2020. It is the business hub of the southeast region and has produced numerous successful businessmen and women.

Anambra shares boundaries with Enugu State (to the east), Delta State (to the west), Kogi State (to the north), Imo State, and Rivers State (to the south).

She got her name from the Anambra River (Omambala) that flows through the region and is a tributary of the famous River Niger.

The State is dominated by the Igbo ethnic group – which consists of over 97% of the population.

With a population that is above 4 million, Anambra State is one of the most populated states in the country.

Natural Resources

Indeed, she is blessed with various natural resources, including natural gas, crude oil and bauxite.

Additionally, Anambra has good soil for agricultural activities, and she has land cultivated for pasturing and animal husbandry.

Little wonder why many believe the State has the lowest poverty rate in the country.


Anambra State values learning and she excels in terms of education. She has a Federal University – the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) located in Awka, with a College of Medicine located at Nnewi.

There is also a State University – The Anambra State University (that used to be Anambra State University of Science and Technology)

Therefore, the literacy rate in Anambra is better than that of various other states in the country. In fact, there are claims that primary and secondary school enrollment in Anambra State is one of the highest in Nigeria.


The State has a rich history, that extends to the 9th century AD. There were discoveries of superb works of art in iron, bronze and copper, that belong to the ancient Kingdom of Nri; which showed their impressive divine Kingship administrative system.

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In some towns, local families had hereditary rights to kingship for years – and even the colonial masters recognised some of these traditional kings during their time in Nigeria.

The British colonialists appointed some leaders as Warrant Chiefs, giving them the authority to collect taxes.

The state is in the region dominated by the Igbo ethnic group that tried forming an independent Biafra in 1967.

Old Anambra State was founded back then in 1976 from part of East Central State. Then, the capital was Enugu, before Enugu became a State on it own in 1991. Thus, the capital of Anambra was moved to Awka.

Local Government Areas  in Anambra State

Anambra State consists of twenty-one (21) Local Government Areas. They are:

  1. Aguata
  2. Awka North
  3. Awka South
  4. Anambra East
  5. Anambra Wes
  6. Anaocha
  7. Ayamelum
  8. Dunukofia
  9. Ekwusigo
  10. Idemili North
  11. Idemili South
  12. Ihiala
  13. Njikoka
  14. Nnewi North
  15. Nnewi South
  16. Ogbaru
  17. Onitsha North
  18. Onitsha South
  19. Orumba North
  20. Orumba South
  21. Oyi

Cities And Administrative Divisions

Every year, Anambra sees a population growth rate of about 2.5%. According to statistics, 60% of those living in the State are staying in urban areas. Thus, it is regarded as one of the most urbanized states in the country.

Although there are various urban centres in the State, the duo of Awka and Onitsha stands out. These two towns grew as pre-colonial urban centres. While Awka, which is the current capital of the State, was the craft industrial place of the Nri hegemony, Onitsha on it part developed as a river port and commercial centre.

Of course, we can’t ignore Nnewi in this discourse. This town is a developing industrial and commercial centre and is sometimes fondly called the Taiwan of Nigeria.

Notable People from Anambra

There are a lot of successful and prominent people in Nigeria that are from Anambra State. In fact, the impact of many of her sons and daughters is being felt all over the world.

Some of her notable individuals include:

  • Nnamdi Azikiwe Owelle of Onitsha – the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme. The first executive Vice-President of Nigeria, serving 1979 – 1983.
  • Nwafor Orizu. The first Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • Prof. Charles Soludo, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and one of the candidates in the 2021 Anambra governorship election
  • Dim Emeka Ojukwu. The leader of the secessionist Biafra Republic;
  • Dr. senator Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo (December 17, 1941 – September 25, 2003) – a former President of the Senate of Nigeria.
  • Professor Chinua Achebe. An accomplished author.
  • Emeka Offor.  Chairman of Chrome Group
  • Professor Uche Okeke, One of the foremost Nigerian fine artists, founder of the Uli movement.
  • Chuka Umunna, a British Labour Party Member of Parliament for Streatham constituency.
  • Professor Kenneth Dike, the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and founder of the National Archives.
  • Amobi Okoye. Youngest American football player to play for the NFL (2004), currently is a free agent.
  • Chimamanda Adichie. A writer who won the Orange Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008);
  • P.N. Okeke-Ojiudu. The first minister of agriculture in the Nigerian first republic.
  • Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu. First president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange;
  • Cyprian Ekwensi. A writer of international repute
  • Oscar N. Onyema. Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Chairman of Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS).
  • Philip Emeagwali. Winner of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for Supercomputing;
  • Azikiwe Peter Onwualu. The former Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
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Past and Present Governors of Anambra State from 1976 Till Date

As earlier stated, the old Anambra was created on February 3, 1976, while the new one was created on August 27, 1991, here is a list of former military administrators and civilian administrators of Anambra from 1976 till date:

Governor Years in office Political Party
John Atom Kpera March 1976-July 1978 Military
Datti Sadiq Abubakar July 1978-October 1, 1979 Military
Jim Nwobodo October 1, 1979-October 1,1983 First civilian governor of old Anambra state. He won election NPP
Christian Onoh October 1, 1983-December 31, 1983 He won election under NPN, but his administration was truncated by the military coup of December 31, 1983 by Major-Gen Muhammadu Buhari
Allison Madueke January 1, 1984-August 1985 Military administrator. He’s the husband to Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister Diezani Madueke who is currently in UK and facing corruption charges in Nigeria. Some of bras and properties were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which would be auctioned at a later date. It was rumoured that one of her bras is worth over $12million USD.
Samson Omeruah August 1985-December 1987 Military administrator
Robert Akonobi December 1987-August 1990 Military administrator
Herbert Eze August 1990-January 1992 Military governor
Joseph Abulu 27 August 1991-January 1992 administrator
Chukwuemeka Ezeife January 2, 1992-November 17, 1993 Ezeife was the first civilian governor of the new Anambra State. He won election under Social Democratic Party (SDP)
Dabo Aliyu November 1993-December 1993 Police administrator appointed by Sani Abacha after kicking out Ernest Shonekan, the Head of Interim Government that was constituted by Ibrahim Babangida.
Mike Attah December 9, 1993-August 21, 1996 Military administrator
Rufai Garba August 21, 1996-August 6, 1998 Military
Emmanuel Ukaegbu August 6, 1998-May 29, 1999 Military governor
Chinwoke Mbadinuju May 29, 1999-May 29, 2003 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chris Ngige May 29, 2003-March 17, 2006 PDP. He was the first governor to be “abducted” in the history of Nigeria’s political history. The power play would not allow him to complete his term. At the time of updating this article, Ngige is a member of the ruling All Progressive Party (APC), and he heads Nigeria’s  Ministry of Labour since November 2015
Peter Obi March 17, 2006-November 3, 2006 All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The power play in the state led to his impeachment on November 3, 2006. He was away for three months before the appeal court nullified the action of the Anambra State House of Assembly.
Virginia Etiaba November 3, 2006-February 9, 2007 The audacious Virginia Etiaba was the first female state governor in Nigeria. Although, Appeal Court would later rule that the impeachment of her boss, Peter Obi, was unconstitutional and null and void. She returned powers to her boss afyer the ruling. She was in charge for three months.
Peter Obi February 9, 2007-March 17, 2014 APGA. He had to reclaim his second mandate through court process again.
Willie Obiano March 17, 2014-Till date
Governorship election ongoing
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The second term of Peter Obi didn’t go without court case as who INEC announced as the winner, Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba (aka Andy Uba) of PDP was removed by the Supreme Court on June 14, 2007. Uba ruled Anambra State for 14 days. Peter Obi reclaimed his mandate.

Andy Uba, a former Federal lawmaker, is standing as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the November 6, 2021 governorship election in the industrious southeastern state.

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