History of Rivers State: LGAs And Past Governors from 1967 Till Date

Last Updated on February 23, 2019 by Ope Quadri

Rivers State is one of the 36 states in Nigeria and has Port Harcourt as its capital (which is also the largest city in the State)

According to census data released in 2006, Rivers State has a population of over 5 million people. Stats shows the State is one of the most populated in Nigeria.

Date of creation: May 27, 1967

Slogan: Treasure Base of the Nation.

Geopolitical zone: South South

Rivers State is economically significant as the centre of the country’s oil industry and is close to States like Imo, Abia and Anambra (to the North), Akwa Ibom State (to the East), Bayelsa and Delta states (to the West).

Being one of the top States in the country in terms of opportunities, Rivers is filled with people from different ethnic groups. Additionally, she is home to various indigenous ethnic groups including:

  • Ogoni
  • Abua
  • Ekpeye
  • Ikwerre
  • Ibani
  • Opobo
  • Eleme
  • Okrika
  • Kalabari
  • Etche
  • Ogba
  • Engenni
  • Egbema
  • Obolo, etc.

The current governor of Rivers State is Ezenwo Wike of the People’s Democratic Party alongside his Deputy Ipalibo Banigo.


The State was named after the many rivers that surrounds it.

It was part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 – 1893, when it eventually became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate. 7 years later, the region was merged with the chartered territories of the Royal Niger Company to become the colony of Southern Nigeria.

Rivers State came into being in 1967 with the split of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. During the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, a decree was issued that allowed the creation of the State.

However, after the act, there was constant complaints about political marginalisation and environmental degradation by the Ijaw groups, which made the government carved Bayelsa State out of Rivers in 1996.


Rivers State is one of the Nigerian States with a strong economy. In 2007, it was the 2nd State with the highest gross domestic product (GDP) in the country – $21.07 billion, and a per capita income of $3,965.

Natural resources

Rivers State is blessed with crude oil and natural gas. It was perhaps the richest section of the African zone of the British Empire. In fact, more than 60% of Nigeria’s output of crude oil is produced there.

It has two major oil refineries, two major seaports, and various manufacturing firms. Apart from crude oil, Rivers also have silica sand, glass sand and clay in abundance.

Local Government Areas

There are currently 23 Local Government Areas in Rivers State, and they are:

  • Port Harcourt
  • Obio-Akpor
  • Okrika
  • Ogu–Bolo
  • Eleme
  • Tai
  • Gokana
  • Khana
  • Oyigbo
  • Opobo–Nkoro
  • Andoni
  • Bonny
  • Degema
  • Asari-Toru
  • Akuku-Toru
  • Abua–Odual
  • Ahoada West
  • Ahoada East
  • Ogba–Egbema–Ndoni
  • Emohua
  • Ikwerre
  • Etche
  • Omuma


As at 1999, there are 2,805 government primary schools and 243 secondary schools in Rivers State.

The State is home to the popular University of Port Harcourt, Choba (established by the federal government in 1975)

There is also a State University – the Rivers State University, that was founded in 1980.

Other tertiary institutions in Rivers include:

  • School of Health Technology, Port Harcourt,
  • Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku
  • Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic at Bori,
  • Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (Ignatius Ajuru University)
  • School of Nursing and Midwifery at Rumueme, Port Harcourt.
  • Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt

Past Governors Of Rivers State

Past governors in Rivers can be divided into two categories

  1. Military administrators
  2. Civilian governors

Here is a list of Military governors that have ruled Rivers State

  • Alfred Diete-Spiff (28 May 1967 to July 1975)
  • Zamani Lekwot (July 1975 to July 1978)
  • Suleiman Saidu July 1978 to October 1979)
  • Fidelis Oyakhilome (January 1984 to 26 August 1986)
  • Anthony Ukpo (26 August 1986 to July 1988)
  • Ernest Adelaye (July 1988 to August 1990)
  • Godwin Abbe (August 1990 to January 1992)
  • Dauda Komo (9 December 1993 to 22 August 1996)
  • Musa Shehu (22 August 1996 to August 1998)
  • Sam Ewang (August 1998 to May 1999)

Below is a list of elected civilian governors of the State

  • Melford Okilo (October 1979 to December 1983)
  • Rufus Ada George (January 1992 to November 1993)
  • Peter Odili (29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007)
  • Celestine Omehia (29 May 2007 to 26 October 2007)
  • Chibuike Amaechi (26 October 2007 to 29 May 2015)
  • Ezenwo Wike (29 May 2015 till date)

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