BRIEF HISTORY OF AKWA IBOM STATE

Akwa Ibom State was created on the 23rd of September 1987 by the then Military Administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

The creation of the State brought to fruition 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 Nigeria.

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.

However, when in 1967 the 12 state structure was established following the creation of states by the General Yakubu Gowon administration, the Mainland part of Calabar Province in the then Eastern Nigeria was merely part of the then South Eastern State.

In 1976, South Eastern State was renamed Cross River State. This change in name did not satisfy the people. Rather, it encouraged them to carry on with the struggle for a state of their own.

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 from the 10 Local Government areas that made up the mainland part of the then Cross River State, even thoughit did not yield the desired result.

Undaunted, the people waited for another opportunity. The opportunity came when, in 1986, the Administration of General Ibrahim Babangida set up a political Bureau to define the future political direction of the country. The memorandum was re-submitted.

On September 23, 1987, the collective dream of the people was actualized as Akwa Ibom State, the “Land of Promise” was finally created, after about four decades of sustained agitation.

IBENO BEACH, IBENO

The Ibeno Beach is one of the beaches on the Atlantic Ocean along the shorelines of Ibeno. It is the longest sand beach in West Africa. The beach is located in Ibeno, a local government area of Akwa Ibom State southeastern, Nigeria. The title, “Ibeno beach” was coined from its location, “Ibeno”. The beach is one of the tourist attractions in Nigeria.

On June 2010, there was a report of oil spill on the beach. It is the most popular beach in Akwa Ibom. Although Ibeno is now a popular tourist attraction because of its beach, the area has some history too. Ibeno was the landing site for one of the most successful Christian missions in Nigeria – the Qua Iboe Christian mission from Scotland which arrived in the early 20th century. Relics of that missionary expedition also attract tourists to the area. In 2013, the federal government constructed the Ibeno bridge to attract tourists and improve other economic activities in the area. As ExxonMobil operational headquarters is at Qua Iboe terminal, Ibeno, seasoned guards patrol the area 24/7 to keep visitors safe and to ensure orderliness.

Situated in Eket, Akwa-Ibom State; Ibeno beach with its alluring beauty and splashing waves welcome visitors throughout the year.

The smell of the beach sand is crisp and from a distance, visitors can hear the sea gulls and the splashing waves. Nature makes it so.

At any time of the day, the verdure around the beach, entertains the tourists and lovers with exotic sites, just as the friendly host community ascertains tourists of their safety during their stay.

Due to its serenity and security, the beach is rated high amongst the top soothing and clean beaches in the country. The beauty of this beach is that the sands of the beach itself have been stable over the years without receding with the tide of the water.

The beach resort is a sight to behold with white sand dunes that is unaffected by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It is both gentle and turbulent depending on the season of the year. At low tide, the waters can recede as far as 100 metres from the beach and can reach unimaginable elevation of 30 metres above sea level before it strikes the beach.

The beach, which can be accessed by air through Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom State capital and Calabar with Arik Air and Aero Contractors which operate daily flights to Uyo from Lagos and Abuja, offers a natural swimming pool, little heaven, memorable sunbathing, water sport and leisure activities.

But, a lover of water sport will always find the beach, which stretches to the James Town on the Atlantic, most inviting and engaging.

GODSWILL AKPABIO INTERNATIONAL STADIUM

The Godswill Akpabio International Stadium (formerly Akwa Ibom International Stadium) is an all-seater national sports stadium located in Uyo, the state capital of Akwa Ibom. The stadium serves as a home to the Nigerian Super Eagles as well as a center for various social, cultural, and religious events. The contract for the construction of the Akwa Ibom International Stadium complex and Games Village was awarded in 2012 to Julius Berger and was completed in 2014. The 30,000-seater ultra-modern multipurpose sports complex was modeled after Allianz Arena.

Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel renamed Akwa Ibom Stadium as Godswill Obot Akpabio International Stadium, immediately following his inauguration ceremony on May 29, 2015 in the stadium. Godswill Akpabio was the immediate past Governor of the state.

Construction and Architecture

The contract for the design of the stadium was awarded to Julius Berger a structural engineering firm based in Nigeria. They were responsible for the architectural design, execution planning, as well as constructional supervision of the stadium, as well as maintenance. The stadium which seats on 48 hectares of land has some unique features such as bullet proof VIP/VVIP sections, collapsible seats, two digital score boards, digital playback screens, digital flood lights, and 30 emergency exits.

Structure

The stadium structure is in two phases which includes a 400m-running track for athletic events, and is the pilot part of Uyo Sports Park development, and is enclosed by a white triangular-shaped outer covering that encircles the whole spectator stand. The East Stand and Curves can seat approximately 22,500 people. The Governors’ Lounge has sitting capacity for between 30 and 40 VVIPs and is located in the Grand Stand on Level Two. It is constructed to carry little more than 30,000 spectators whether for soccer or track and field events, while the Grand Stand can comfortably accommodate about 7,500 spectators, including the VIP/VVIPs. There is also a six-lane track built specifically for athletes to train.

Facilities

The Stadium itself consists of: [8]

30,000 capacity covered main bowl

Bullet Proof VVIP/VIP areas

Box office

Media facilities

Two scoreboards that comprise electronic scoreboard and video facilities for replays

Floodlights

Eight-lane 400m standard track

Warm-up facility with six-lane 400m track

A standby power supply system

30 emergency exit points

7,500-seater Grand Stand

Helipad

Two dressing rooms

Ambulance bay

The Akwa Ibom International Stadium meets the requirements of the International safety standards; it is equipped with emergency service units (to enable exit within 6 minutes), closed circuit security cameras as well as crowd control steel fencing. There are also stand-by firefighting equipment and metal detectors which have been put in place to avoid any misfortunes.

The stadium has been slated to host the AFCON qualifying series against South Africa on 17 November. Local team Akwa United moved into the stadium in 2015 when their ground was being brought up to code.

IBOM PLAZA

This was built in 2001 to provide a first-class relaxation center for the locals. It is notable as the heart of Uyo. It is built on the former “Independent Square” where the British Union Jack Flag was lowered after Nigeria gained her independence. The monument which symbolizes the unity of the people of Akwa Ibom State, stands in the center of the roundabout. It is a delightful art-piece, skirted with dazzling selection of uniquely beautiful flowers. The plaza has an open theatre, doubled-rolled water fountain within the plaza, and a shopping center.

A tourist paradise, sitting in center of the beautiful and culturally rich Uyo city, Ibom Plaza was designed by the then Governor of Akwa Ibom and features a sitting arena modeled in line with the gothic Greco-Roman arena with a giant elevated screen for football and sports enthusiasts beamed through satellite. The Ibom Plaza accommodates shopping Malls, a medical centre, bustling business centres, parking lots, game centres, art shops and eating centres for families and friends to spend their leisure.

The plaza is a beautiful art-piece with sparkling walkways, overhead bridges and strategically located park seats and a landscape displaying a selection of uniquely beautiful flowers which gives it an exotic outlook. It also serves as a venue for important State and private functions like marriage receptions among others.

LORD LUGGARD RESIDENCE, IKOT ABASI

The British colonial master, Lord Lugard started living in the present day Ikot Abasi local government Area of Akwa Ibom state, around 1912. He built a network of structures which today are historical sites, to ease his stay and facilitate trading in the region.

These include his residence, his administrative office, the native authority building and his kitchen, the Beach Garden and others. Lord Lugard’s House, a wooden structure is still a beautiful sight to behold till date. With over 90 years of existence, the structure is yet to show any sign of dilapidation.A first-time visitor is likely to be struck by its simple technology.

The wooden structure consists of his living room, the guest room and others. This was where, it was gathered, the British colonial master actually conceptualized the idea of amalgamating the country to be made up of North and South.

Apart from the solid structure that is still comparable with modern structures, there were several colonial buildings in this area that served as courts, offices, residential houses and recreational centers.

All these facilities are still intact as when they were built. One significant historical fact is that the area is situated at the bank OImo River estuary, a tributary from where King Jaja of Opobo was shipped into exile.

IBOM TROPICANNA ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, UYO

Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre is a proposed modern class leisure and business resort situated in Akwa Ibom State.

The Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre has a 14 storey building five-star hotel with over 200 rooms, a theme park that spreads over 3 hectares of land, a shopping mall, a convention centre with a 5000 capacity and an active cinema operated by Silverbird Cinemas.

Most parts of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre is still currently under construction except the shopping mall and cinema which are fully completed and functional of date.

BRIDGE OF NO RETURN, IKOT ABASI

In Ikot Abasi is a bridge of no return where any slave that passed never returned.

At the bank of the Imo River estuary, a walking distance from the Amalgamation house and colonial offices is a jetty and a bridge designed to enable free movement to and from the river, to enable embankment into boats and canoes.

This was the famous Bridge of No Return, a name given to it by the locals. Slaves were walked down this bridge to the canoes for onward movement to the slave ships that lay anchored at the middle of the high sea waiting for their human cargoes for onward journey through the Atlantic Ocean to the vast plantations in Europe and Americas. No slave that walks down the bridge ever returns. Named by the locals of old, this is an existing remainder of the horrors of the Slave Trade era.

The bridge is infamous as the last point of discharge of slaves into the waiting slave ships that eventually sailed them into slavery. As the name suggests, no slave who walked the bridge ever returned. A popular tourist attraction, also at this bridge are the slave dungeons made up of containers of cast concrete with two tiny holes at each end to enable occupants receive air. This is where the most stubborn slaves were kept before shipment for the purpose of weakening their resolve. The Dungeons have partitions, so that each cubicle holds one slave. Apart from the dungeons, there are warehouses for goods that were later turned into slave warehouses. This was where the slaves were kept in preparation for their shipment.

Location: Ikot Abasi L.G.A

Nearby Attractions: LORD LUGARD’S HOUSE, AMALGAMATION HOUSE.

IBIOBIO MUSEUM AND STATE PARK, UYO

If you are looking to learn about the peoples’ culture, this museum, sometimes referred to as Akwa Ibom Museum Headquarters, is a good place to start. The museum also has a large expanse of well landscaped greens/lawns surrounding it.

The museum has a lot of artifacts and works on display than gives one an in-depth look at the Calabar indigenes. If you are not into museums, the park offers a scenic paved walkways/paths for a solitary leisure stroll, an evening jog and also provides a good ambiance for family picnic and leisure.

The park features three water ponds and set long paved paths, and an expansive lush green lawn.

NATIONAL MUSEUM of COLONIAL HISTORY, UYO

The museum is located within the Governor’s Office complex. It was established in1989.The museum is rich in ethnographic, history of state creation and archived items. Other facilities include museum education center, museum kitchen complex, museum shop and research library.

Location: Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo.

Established in 1985, the national museum of colonial history is located within the Governor’s office complex surrounded by greenish courts and lined on either side by whispering pines and fruit trees creating a captivating landscape, it was built to showcase colonial history.

The museum houses historical collections on the creation of the state as well as ethnographic items such as artifacts, relics, valuable antiquities and carvings related to the people of Akwa Ibom.  Other facilities include a museum education center, museum kitchen complex, museum shop, and research library.

The museum depicts the history and heritage of the Akwa Ibom as well as cultural artifacts from the pre-colonial and post-colonial era making it a national gem. A visit to the museum is sure to be a fulfilling one as the beautiful illustrations and artworks brandished play out a beautiful story on some historical events. It also contains an attractive, shaded waterfront garden where one can watch small boats drifting on the creeks reported to be one of the sites for slave trade during the colonial era. The delightful and serene environment is a good place for meditation and reflection on how far we have come as a nation. The closest Airport to Ikot Ekpene where the museum is located is the Akwa Ibom International Airport. Major airlines include Dana Air and Air Peace. Driving from the airport to the museum takes just 30 minutes.

THE AMALGAMATION HOUSE

Amalgamation House is the building in which Lord Lugard declared the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria in 1914, thus creating present-day Nigeria. It is also the building in which General Olusegun Obasanjo (the former commanding officer of the Nigerian Army) and General Phillip Effiong of the Biafran Army signed the declaration of cease-fire that ended the Nigerian civil war in January 1970.

The first place of call was the Amalgamation House. This was the place the trajectory that culminated in the creation of the entity called Nigeria was put in place. It was at this Amalgamation House that the Governor of Southern Nigeria Protectorate, Lord Frederick Lugard, signed the law that brought the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Southern Nigeria Protectorate to become the entity known as Nigeria on January 1, 1914. His spouse, Flora Shaw, coined the word Nigeria.

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To many, the Amalgamation House is a kind of metaphor for what has become the entity known as Nigeria. The house is on elevated concrete pillars, a wooden structure. It is a typical house of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It has a wide corridor supported by wooden pillars and big windows to cross-ventilate the offices.   The whole structure is built with wood with corrugated iron sheets for the roof. The original roofing sheets are still there but have turned dark brown. There is also poker of holes doting the roofing with huge gaping holes. A visitor has to be very careful to avoid the visitor’s legs slipping through the holes and sustaining injuries. The condition of the wooden floor is also suspect as it could also give way while walking on it.

It is very obvious that the place has long been neglected. On the wall of the inner office is a profile write-up on Lord Lugard. It tells us that: “Frederick John Dealtry Lugard was born in Madras, British India, in 1858. He was trained in Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was a soldier, an explorer   and an administrator by training. He had a spouse, Flora Shaw”.

Among other information, he signed the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates on January 1, 1914 to bring into existence the entity called Nigeria.

Location: Ikot Abasi L.G.A.

DISCOVERY PARK, UYO

Located along Udo Umana Street. With the popular market – Akpan Andem – and the Township Stadium in propinquity. It is a nature themed park that is characterized by scenic views of the old stadium and the surrounding environment. Revellers can indulge themselves in the delicacies available in the park while melodious songs are played by the audio team.

Delicacies include but not limited to: Isi-ewu, Nkwobi (made using cow’s leg and tail), Dog meat (popularly called 404), chicken prepared in different forms – deliciously, goat meat pepper soup, barbecue fish and lots more. Akwa Ibom is known for her array of mouth-watering soups ranging from Afang to Editan to Afia Efere (White soup) to Atama to Edika Ikong and others. Albeit, not a soup, the legendary Ekpang Nkuwo is available. Discover them at Discovery!

DISCOVERY PARK FACILITIES & SERVICES:

The recreational park will be a leisure gardens for relaxation for all ages. It will have the following facilities and services;

Restaurants which will provide local and continental cuisines.

VIP Lounge, Dance/karaoke bar, Wine bar and sheds for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Cafeterias and shops all over the place for visitors’ satisfaction.

Fast food vendors

Convenience facilities (Toilets)

A medical centre for emergencies in case of minor injuries.

An administrative block for complaints and enquiries.

Children’s playground

Football viewing centre

Game center (snooker, table tennis, scrabble, etc.)

Police patrol team and private security outfit.

ORON MUSEUM, UYO.

Oron Museum is a museum in Oron, Nigeria. The museum was established in 1958 to accommodate eight hundred known ancestral figures (ekpu) of the Oron people which are believed to be among the oldest and finest surviving wood carvings in Africa. During the civil war, many of the wood carvings were looted and the museum was severely damaged. In 1975, the museum was re-inaugurated and today houses the remains of the wooden sculptures and other ethnographic materials from across Nigeria. The museum also has displays of bunkers used during the civil war as well as a crafts village.

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