Aba is a city in the southeast of Nigeria and the main trading centre in Abia State. Upon the creation of Abia state in 1991, Aba was divided into two local governments areas namely; Aba south and Aba North. Aba south is the main city centre and the heart beat of Abia State, south-east Nigeria. It is located on the Aba River. Aba is made up many villages such as; Umuokpoji Aba, Eziukwu-Aba, Obuda-Aba, Aba Ukwu and other villages from Ohazu merged due to administrative convenience. Aba was established by the Ngwa clan of Igbo People of Nigeria as a market town and then later a military post was placed there by the British colonial administration in 1901. It lies along the west bank of the Aba River, and is at the intersection of roads leading to Port Harcourt, Owerri, Umuahia, Ikot Ekpene, and Ikot Abasi. The city became a collecting point for agricultural products following the British made railway running through it to Port Harcourt. Aba is a major urban settlement and commercial centre in a region that is surrounded by small villages and towns. The indigenous people of Aba are the Ngwa. Aba is well known for its craftsmen. As of 2006 census, Aba had a population of 534,265.
A street in Aba
Location in Nigeria
|LGA||Aba South and Aba North|
|• Governor||Okezie Ikpeazu (PDP)|
|• Total||72 km2 (28 sq mi)|
|Elevation||205 m (673 ft)|
|Population (2006 census)|
|• Density||7,400/km2 (19,000/sq mi)|
|• Ethnicity||Igbo, others|
|• Ethnicity density||18/km2 (50/sq mi)|
|• Religion||Christianity, Omenala|
|Time zone||WAT (UTC+1)|
Aba as a City is made up of many villages namely; Umuokpoji-Aba, Eziukwu-Aba, Obuda-Aba and Aba-Ukwu but the villages in Ohazu have been merged with Aba so as to achieve administrative convenience . Hence the owners of Aba are often referred to as Aba la Ohazu indigenes and Chief Ogbonna Uruakpa Nkwoha of Eziukwu Village was the King of Aba and the only recognised Royal throne by the Queen of England.
It eventually became an administrative centre of Britain’s colonial government. Aba has been a major commercial centre since it became part of the old Eastern region.
The Aro Expedition, which was part of a larger military plan to quell anti-colonial sentiment in the region, took place in the area of Aba during 1901 and 1902. During this military action, the British easily beat the native Aro people with an unknown number (presumed to be heavy) of casualties. In 1901, the British founded a military post in Aba and in 1915, a railroad was constructed to link it to Port Harcourt, which transported agricultural goods such as palm oil and palm kernels. In 1929 Aba was the site of a revolt by Igbo women, historically known as “The Aba Women’s Riot”, a protest of the colonial taxation policy. The riot started first as a peaceful protest against the initial census of women in the region, and subsequent assumed taxation of the women based upon rumour. The protests spread throughout the palm oil belt, but remained peaceful until a pregnant woman was knocked over during a “scuffle”, and the lady losing her child. The news of this “act of abomination” spread rapidly and violent reactions ensued. After more deaths, some accidental, some not, occurred, a mass of 10,000 women marched on Aba. Sources dispute the numbers of dead, with 55 to over 100 being reported. During the height of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, the state capital of Biafra was moved to Umuahia from Enugu. Aba was devastated during the Biafran War.By the 1930s, Aba was becoming a large urban community with an established industrial complex.
Aba is the home of many distinguished families such as the popular Emejiaka Egbu family of Aba la Ohazu, Ogbonna family of Eziukwu-Aba, the prestigious Ichita family of Umuokpoji-Aba,the Omenihu family of Obuda-Aba, the Ugbor family of Aba-Ukwu, the Ugwuzor family Umuokpoji Aba, the Ukaegbu family of Aba-ukwu and so forth.
Aba is surrounded by oil wells which separate it from the city of Port Harcourt, a 30 kilometres (19 mi) pipeline powers Aba with gas from the Imo River natural gas repository. Its major economic contributions are textiles and palm oil along with pharmaceuticals, plastics, cement, and cosmetics which made the Ariaria International Market to become the largest market in west Africa seconded by the onitsha main market . There is also a brewery, a glass company and distillery within the city. Finally, it is famous for its handicrafts.
The city has played a lasting role in the Christian evangelism of the Southeast of Nigeria since the British brought the Church Missionary Society (CMS), an evangelism vehicle of then Church of England used to plant what today has become the Anglican Church of Nigeria. The church named All the Saints, originated out of the evangelical initiative of three oil traders from Opopo-Joseph Cookey, Gabrial Coookey and Zedekiah Cookeys. These men sailed up the Abs- Azumini River in 1896 for their trading and also for planting of Christian Region. In 1897, they negotiated with Abayi and Umuocham people for land establish their oil business at two beaches, which they built at Abayi waterside and Umuocham waterside. They traded oil producers from Ngwa the life, the word they preach, the religious cum trade relationship that transpired, the cookeys converted the Abayi and Umuocham people to Christianity. From 1901 especially in 1902, they planning at intensive crusade and invited their landlords. This led to the planting of two congregation one at Abayi waterside and the other at Umuocham dedicated by Bishop Johnson, the Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Western Equatorial Africa (1900-1917). The earlier converts from Abayi and umuocham attended service at St. Ambrose, Abayi Waterside Until 1905 when they set up their own Church -shade at Abayi and Umuocham respectively. Joseph Cookey was the volunteer teacher for Abayi while Gabriel Cookey was Volunteer teaches for Umuocham.
St. Michael’s Cathedral Anglican Church was founded in the late 1920s although St. James Parish on the city edge (Umule) is arguably the oldest church because the diocese’s first mass was celebrated in 1916. Most of the Primary and Secondary Schools mentioned above were founded by the CMS along with each of their Churches.
In 1923, the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA Church) was established. The Seventh-day Adventists are well known for their Biblical faith, quality hospitals and good educational institutions.
The Catholic Church was to follow and also created many churches; Christ the King Church (C.K.C), which for a long time was the biggest church in the city became its bishop’s seat and it is now known as Christ the King Cathedral.
With the arrival of the Pentecostal brand of Christianity (the evangelicals) in Nigeria, the city got an enormous share for itself. The Assemblies of God Church, being among the earliest, the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Living Word Ministries Inc. had massive following in the early 1980s, following The Refiner’s House International Church one of the newest and fastest growing Christian ministry in the city. African Gospel church was founded by Bishop Ogudoro the Founder of African Gospel church. African Gospel church is divided into 10 districts. The present Bishop of African Gospel church is Bishop Uzoaru (2009).
In the late 1960s, a group of Nigerians discovered information on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and established branches, but the Utah-based church did not establish any official presence until the late 1970s when blacks were allowed to hold priesthood authority. There are 3 LDS stakes headquartered in Aba and the only LDS Temple in Nigeria is located in the city, the Aba Nigeria Temple.
Muslims and mosques are also present in Aba; the largest mosque is the Hospital Road Mosque. A Chief Imam is resident among the Hausa-speaking settlement in the heart of the city itself.
The city has well over 90 primary schools, most running two sections of morning and afternoon. These sections, which are individual schools by themselves, operate 07:30Hrs – 12:30Hrs and 12:30Hrs – 17:30Hrs, all local time.
Aba is served by a station and a halt (mini station) on Nigerian Railways. Aba is also a major hub for road transport in the region – a large number of transport companies operate coaches that transport people daily to various parts of the country. The city is second only to Onitsha in mass transportation daily volume in the eastern part of Nigeria. Commercial motorcycles (“Okada”) have been banned – replaced by commercial tricycles (“Keke NAPEP”).
In 2012, a monorail system has been proposed.
Enyimba International F.C., popularly called The Peoples Elephant, is the town’s most popular football club. Enyimba FC’s winning track-record is among the richest of all Nigerian football clubs. With 2 CAF Champions League Trophies, six Nigeria Premier League titles and a pair of Federation Cup trophies, the club is currently ranked 2nd in the CAF Club Rankings.
“Aba is the commercial hub of eastern Nigeria”. There are well known markets (such as Ariaria International Market, Ahia Ohuru (New Market), Shopping Centre (Ekeoha), to mention just a few) that serve the entire region with quality wares, provisions, cosmetics and anything you can think of buying. But is shocking to know that the environment has been abandoned to decay. A visit to Aba recently was a big eye opener as these pictures show. (See also www.waste.org.ng for more recent pictures captured by a researcher on the tour of Aba)
The residents are, however, very optimistic that the current governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who happens to be a son-of-the-soil will not abandon the city as his predecessors did. Only time will tell how long the people will continue to suffer and survive. More to come, watch this space!