BRIEF HISTORY OF IMO STATE
Located in South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, Imo State, which derives its name from Imo River, was created in 1976 and it is nicknamed “Eastern Heartland”. The state is divided into twenty seven local government areas which include Aboh-Mbaise, Ahizau-Mbaise, Ehime-Mbano, Ezinihitte, Ideato-North, Ideato-South, Ihitte/Uboma, Ikeduru, Isiala-Mbano, Isu, Mbaitoli, Ngor-Okpala, Njaba, Nkwerre, Nkwangele, Obowo, Oguta, Ohaji-Egbema, Okigwe, Onuimo, Orlu, Orsu, Oru-East, Oru-West, Owerri -Municipal, Owerri-North and Owerri-West.
OGUTA LAKE, OGUTA
Oguta Lake is the largest natural lake in Imo State and is supposed to have originated from a natural depression. The lake is of immense value to the people of Oguta, Orsu, Nkwesi and Awo. In the colonial era, the Oguta Lake was a port for the evacuation of palm products and the relics of the jetties used by the United African Company (U. A. C.) still exist today.
During the civil war, the Oguta Lake was a marine base for the Biafran Navy. Visitors can take a cruise on the lake or play a round of golf on the 18-hole course on the bank of the lake. The lake is situated in Oguta about thirty miles (48.27 km) from the junction of the Ndoni and Orashi River.It is a fine piece of water, being about five miles (8.05 km) long from east to west and a mile and half (2.41 km) wide. The stream from Njaba River is the major inflow to Oguta Lake.
The other 3 tributaries are Awbana, Utu and Orashi. The Orashi River flows past Oguta Lake in its southwestern portion. The lake is important to the people of oil-rich Njaba River basin including Oguta, Orsu, Mgbidi, Nkwesi, Osemotor, nnebukwu,mgbele,Awa Awo-Omamma Akabo as a source of water, fish, tourism and an outlet for sewerage. Uhamiri is the goddess of the Lake.
The river route Njaba and Orashi via Oguta Lake to the coast, passing through Awo-omamma, Mgbidi, Oguta, Ndoni, Abonnema, Degema made Oguta, Osemotor, Awo-omamma and surrounding towns important commercial centres of international trade mainly for oil palm.
ROCHE IMO OIL PALM PLANTATION
Established in 1974, Ada palm is the biggest and most viable oil palm plantation in West Africa. The palm plantation, which occupies about 4,310 hectares of land, with a housing estate, was one of the nation’s major sources of foreign exchange before the discovery of petroleum. This plantation lies in the parcel of land between Amafor and Egbema in Ohiji/Egbema LGA. Access is Owerri to Port-Harcourt road; turn right to Amafor about 20km from Owerri.
One of the most prominent billboards as you enter Owerri from Ogbuaku is located at the Assumpta Cathedral and Douglas Road junctions. The tourist is welcomed with a big and bold inscription saying, “I Kuona nkwu?”, meaning “Have you planted a palm?” This striking expression simply tells the visitor that this is a state that takes its massive palm plantation heritage seriously. Chief Sam Mbakwe, the second republic governor of the state was the founding father of the plantation. He was said to have approached a Belgian, Mr. Vanderbeck, with his vision and who later helped to plant over 4,000 hectares of palm trees in the state. It is now known as Roche Imo Oil Palm plantation, but formerly referred to as the Agricultural Development Authortiy Palm (ADAPALM).
The plantation is about 40 minutes’ drive from Owerri. Now boasting of fully grown palms as well as an oil palm processing mill, the plantation started as a mere farm settlement but was later incorporated in 1976 into the Agricultural Development Authority (ADA).
The farm was run by the Europeans until 1987 when it was indigenized. Visitors need to make tour arrangements with the plantation’s General Manager in order not to be stranded. It’s an interesting place to visit and there’s so much to see and learn at this massive plantation.
MARIA ASSUMPTA CATHEDRAL
Assumpta Cathedral is located at Villa Assumpta, Owerri, Imo. This church was built in 1948 to serve as a place of worship for catholic people. It is notable as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
The Assumpta church became an archdiocese in May26, 1994. The Assumpta cathedral is one of the largest Catholic churches in Nigeria and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
As befitting an archdiocese its cathedral has the most magnificent of architectural details, as though the workmanship was born of the numinous.
MBARI CULTURAL & ART CENTRE, OWERRI
Mbari centre is situated at Ikenegbu in Central Owerri. It is being housed by the Imo State council for Arts and Culture. Mbari is an open-air museum that houses monumental arts that depicts peace, prosperity and social life in Igbo land.
THE SOURCES OF URASHI RIVER
Located in Ezeama community in Dikenafai in Ideato-south LGA, this is a spring which has mysterious source from a rope-like feather stretching from a mountainous substance. The spring is believed to have been the source of Urashi River which stretches from Ideato south to north, terminating in Oguido where the blue lake and Urashi River is located. Orashi River (also Urashi or Ulasi), is a river of the lower Niger River basin, and a tributary of Oguta Lake, southeastern Nigeria. Orashi takes off, 183 m above mean sea level, from the rocks in Ezeama community of Dikenafai, Imo State.
The entrance to the waterfall was around the corner from Ezeama, the Water God’s altar. “It was a narrow, unassuming pathway cut into the thicket of the forest. From the pathway, one could hear the steady rush of water growing louder as one drew near. A gentle mist hung in the air; a sweet combination of salty rainwater mixed with the smell of fresh wet earth.
This is a biological garden complex located at old Nekede in Owerri. The Zoo has stock of different animals ranging from Lions, Pythons, Monkey, Ostrich, Crocodile, Cattle Egret, Guerrilla, and different birds.
The Nekede zoo is located in Owerri West Local Government Area of the state. The zoological garden established in 1976 under the state Ministry of Agriculture as an animal park, the Nekede Zoological Garden which sits on 10 hectares of reserved forest, houses a variety of animals, including lions, chimpanzees, monkeys, pythons, ostriches and crocodiles, among other animals.
Although the zoo had suffered obvious neglect under successive administrations in the state, it has managed to exist until the current administration of Rochas Okorocha intervened by providing funds for the upgrade of existing infrastructure and the upkeep of the animals. The zoo serves as a centre for recreation, entertainment and education across the five Southeast states and beyond.
Families, schools and other professional bodies throng there to enjoy the beauty of nature and carry out academic research in nature and wildlife.
Come over to the Owerri Mall, with its pleasant aesthetics it is a prime hang out the spot within the city. Grab a movie at the cinema or burger and fries at the food court, shop for anything and everything at affordable retail stores or just come to chill with friends. Owerri Mall was completed in March 2016, and is located on Egbu Road, Owerri.
The mall provides residents with access to a high-quality shopping experience, and local, established national and international businesses and brands. The mall offers a refreshing mix of international fashion retailers, telecommunications, health and beauty stores, in addition to a selection of restaurants and entertainment.
The mall features a lettable space of 9 665 m², with Shoprite as the anchor tenant. For added convenience, the mall is equipped with 24-hours security services and 536 parking bays.