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Oron, Nigeria

The Oron people are comprised in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Akwa Ibom State, and Bakassi LGA in Cross River State. The Oron are the third largest ethnic group in the state. They are related to the Efik, Ibibio, Eket, Annang and Ibeno ethnic groups. The five local Councils in Akwa Ibom are Oron, Udung-Uko, Mbo, Urue-Offong/Oruko, and Okobo. The Oron people, popularly called ‘Oro Ukpabang’ or ‘Akpakip Oro’ or`Oro Ukpabang Okpo` by its indigenes, are made up of several clans. There are nine clans called Afaha. They are namely: Afaha Okpo, Afaha Ukwong, Ebughu, Afaha Ibighi, Effiat, Afaha Ubodung, Etta, Afaha Oki-uso, and Afaha Idua (Iluhe). However, the geopolitical restructuring of the state and local government creation has seen the Oron nation being fragmented politically into two states of Nigeria, namely Cross River and Akwa Ibom state. There are five Oron Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State and one Local Government in Cross River State.

Oron town is the third largest city in Akwa Ibom state after Uyo and Eket. It has a population of around 250,000 people living within the city. Lying on the Cross River, Oron has a seaport and a Maritime Academy which is soon to become a nautical university. The predominant occupation is fishing and farming.


Oron was in existence in the pre-colonial period in Nigeria and was formerly a part of the province called the South-Eastern state. Natives of this area speak the dialect also known as Oron. Most Oron people also speak and understand the Efik language fluently. The Oron also have some dialectical similarities with the Ibibio and Annang people, hence their communication in Ibibio and Annang languages is very proficient.

History has it that by 2370 BC Oron also known as {Oro Nation} had already been settled down in the present location known as Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria on the West Coast of African Sub Region, Akwa Ibom Gulf Line to Gulf of Guinea Atlantic Ocean South, after the Great flood (Noah`s deluge). The Community as at then and up until this moment is embedded with their dialect Language originated by them as far back as 2370 BC, not borrowed elsewhere or from the Bantus, Cameroun and/or Palestinian. The mass movements raided by Bantus the warriors, into many Communities did not mean that Oro people migrated from the Bantus, the Cameroun or Palestinians. Neither the Bantus attire nor any other cultural equivalent anywhere portrays that of Oro language or names. None of Oro Nation culture or names was derived from Bantu or any language elsewhere as immigrant. The Oros are peculiar people, strong contenders in nature wherever they are found, with the accolade `Oro Ukpabang Okpo`. Oro man complexion is not reflecting other ethnic nationalities or immigrant somewhere into Oro Nation. Their complexion is not as fair as the Palestinians or of the Israelis nor as dark as people residing around Cameroon mountain when Oro Nation had already came into being after creation of the world, even before pre colonialism came to being, when Nigeria and Cameroon did not come into existence as Countries. Abang was a warrior so powerful with huge muscles, the Head and Chief wrestler known as `Mbok’. The wrestling known as (Mbok) was originated by Abang the warrior from Africa which was displayed by the African slaves after a day`s job, to the admiration of the Guards who watches over them at work thereby creating relaxation chances for them at work before it spread and developed as wrestling around the whole world today. Abang the warrior with his group gallantly fought against the slave masters who were in the area for slave trade business. One day, he was over powered and captured with few of his group and were taken to the present day Israel of what was then Egypt. This is perhaps why it may be more than a mere coincidence that the only two nations on earth with places named “Oron” are Israel and Nigeria.

Later, he escaped from Egypt during the Moslem celebrations period through River Nile as a strong contender in boat regatta with few of his men . He sailed down to Sudan via Lake Chad and settled within the North East now Jigawa State, Nigeria in a small area and named it `Oron` which was written and pronounced as `Oronny` in line with Oros` phonemes migrations. As he was not comfortable with Islam, he escaped to a place call Usahadit area in the present day Cameroon. There, Abang begot Do, Do begot Doni, Doni begot Oro and Obolo. That is why there is a prevalence of Cameroon names as Akan, Ekang, Abang, Etong, Osung, and Etang in Oron today. Among the Oronians, there is a saying that the farthest point in the world is Usahadit which is in the Cameroon. He did not know that other people were already established on that land and due to dispute over farmland, the group later returned home to their original homeland of Oro Nation.[1]

It is this return of Abang that has made some historian believe that Oro Nation is one of the Palestinian and Bantu ethnic nationalities that migrated from somewhere around Israel through Egypt (North Africa) to North Eastern Africa through Ethiopia (Abyssinia) to Central Africa (around the present-day Congo Republic & Democratic Republic of Congo) and through the southern Cameroons to the present day Niger Delta region of South-Southern Nigeria. On their return, Doni moved to establish the present day Andoni in Rivers State while Obolo established the present day Eastern Obolo of Akwa Ibom State. Oron people own up to the fact that the Ibeno, who dwell among the Ekids share similar ancestral history with them.

One controversy says that the relationship of Oron with Ekid is said to have gone sour when the Eket under the regime of Brigadier General U.J. Esuene declared and agreed to be called a subgroup of the Ibibio nation to gain political relevance and advantage. U.J. Esuene was also said to have denied the Oron people of the opportunity to site the Exxon Mobile’s first terminal in Mbo and Effiat Oro areas of Oron.

Another common controversy that describes the worsened relationship between Oron and Eket is the accusation that General Esuene was the one who ordered the bombing of Urue Oruko, a region at the heart of Oron where several millions of Oron people (mostly traders and women) were killed during the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s. This unfortunate event in Oron has been observed to be the most tragic in the history of the Nigerian Civil War.


Oron is found in the flood plain of South Eastern Nigeria, with the land mainly intersected by numerous streams and tributaries flowing into Cross River. The entire coastline stretches from Uya Oron to Udung Uko.

Oron is in the tropical region and has a uniformly high temperature all the year round. The two main seasons are the dry which spans between October and April and wet season which starts around May and ends in September. There are also two prevailing winds – the South-West onshore winds which brings heavy rains and the North- East trade winds blowing across the Sahara Desert, which brings in the dry season

Natural Resources

Oron is rich in oil and natural gas. Most of its oil reserves are off-shore. There are 25 corked oil wells. Oron is presently rated as having one of the highest supplies of natural gas deposits in sub-Saharan Africa with large amounts of untapped natural gas and oil at Ukpata, Udung Okung, and Edik Ekpu.

The region is extremely fertile and is known for its topographical Oil Palm Belt, tropical rainforest, swamps, and beaches. The mangrove forests also provide timber and raw materials for medicinal purposes. There are also deposits of solid minerals such as iron, free silica or glass sand and gravel. Seafoods such as crayfish, snipers, oyster and periwinkle abound richly in all coastal areas.


Oron people were among the earliest to encounter Western education in West Africa. This is most evident with the establishment of the Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar in 1895 and the Methodist Boys’ High School, Oron in 1905. These schools are two of the oldest in the history of Nigeria and attracted students from all over Western and Central Africa.


With a well formidable socio-cultural group called the Oron Union founded in 1925, the Oron people became one of the most formidable and vocal groups in the South-South region of Nigeria, hence one of the three political forces in the present day Akwa Ibom State.

Oron became a Division in August 1970 and in 1976, was made a local government area. However, following the local government creation exercise of the federal government in 1989, Oron was split into 3 Local Government Areas of Mbo, Oron and Okobo. Again in September 1991, Urue Offong/Oruko Local Government Area was carved out of Oron Local Government Area. Finally in December 1996, Udung Uko Local Government Area was further carved out of Oron.

Currently, the Oron people are still struggling in their attempts to properly place the Oron union in a position to control their political interests in the state. In the past, the Oron Union has put up such structures as the CWC (Central Working Committee), Esumbuke Oro, and quite recently, the Oron Think-Tank, and many others to address certain issues. There has been little success with these structures, when compared to the political expectation of the average Oron person within the state and Nigeria.


Traditionally, the Oron people have one king that rules over the land. He is known as the ‘Ahta Oro’. The Ahta has all the Ofong (Ivong or Ifong) afaha and the paramount rulers as members of his traditional rulers council. Some high chiefs (for example, Ikpoto, Akpaha and Okete Okete) are also recognized by the Ahta’s council. The President-General of the Oron Union worldwide is regarded as the administrative head of the Oron nation and second-in-command at the Ahta’s traditional rulers council.

Culture and Tradition

The Oron people have a unique culture and tradition. The Ekpe Society, which was shared with the Efiks and the Southern Igbos as well as the Ibibios, is used throughout Oron Land as the authority. There are other traditional cults and societies which include the Ekpo, Abang, Edeme Awan Ñkwuho, Ekong, Afiakegit, Kongoma, Mbok, Ababa, Nnabo,and many others. All these societies, in addition to the unique hospitality of the Oron people, their arts, rich diet, Oil and Gas minerals, have been known to attract tourism and commerce to the area and Akwa Ibom state in general.

The Oron people have a very colourful mode of traditional dressing, especially with an Iyara (which is red in colour). The red Iyara is usually worn with a white tailored traditional shirt and a wrapper (large fabric wrapped around the waist) to match. This wrapper is commonly worn by several peoples of southern Nigeria. Sometimes it can be combined with the rich Efik native piece of cloth (tie), usually a colourful silk material. Recently the Oron people have been known to tie a piece of cloth usually in form of a handkerchief on the neck. This cloth could be white or coloured depending on the user and his combination intent. A blend of the neck handkerchief and the Efik native tie is also very common among the Oron people. Generally, apart from the distinction of the red Iyara, it is not easy to distinguish an Oron man or woman from an Efik person in terms of attire and the culture. These attires are also sometimes used by the Ibibio and Annang groups of Akwa Ibom state; except that the Annang and Ibibio people will not put on the red Iyara of Oron people because of its political implications and consequence.

Language and Culture

The people have a distinct Oro language, although many speak and understand the Ibibio/Efik language. Oron has a rich culture expressed in songs, folklore and dances. The first National Museum east of the Niger and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria are located in Oron.

International Airport

The Ibom International Airport is situated in Oron nation (Okobo LGA). The administrative office of the airport is located in the nearby Uruan, Uyo LGA. Uruan is said to have an ancestral relationship with the Oron group, just like the Efiks, Ibono, Eastern Obolo, and Andoni groups.

The city is currently witnessing massive infrastructural development such as the dualization of Oron-Eket Highway, construction of various intercity roads, health centres, schools, and housing estate projects to give the ancient city a facelift.

Oron (state)

Oron was one of the major states in the Akwa Akpa Kingdom of present-day Nigeria. Oron people share a close ancestral lineage to the Efik people in Cross River State; Ibono, Uruan, Eastern Obolo in Akwa Ibom State and the Andoni (Obolo) people in Rivers State. The Oron people (Örö) are a major ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

Geography and Government

The Oron Nation is an ethnic nationality which is said to have migrated from the east through Central Eastern Africa (around the Congos) and through the Southern regions of the Camerouns to present-day area of South-Southern Nigeria. The Oro land and its people consist of 9 Clans called Afaha. These are; Afaha Okpo, Afaha Ukwong, Ebughu, Afaha Ibighi, Effiat, Afaha Ubodung, Etta, Afaha Oki-uso, and Afaha Idua (Ilue).

The geopolitical restructuring of the State and Local Government creation has seen the Oron Nation become politically fragmented into two states in Nigeria, namely Cross River and Akwa Ibom State. As a result, Oron is made up of 5 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Akwa Ibom State and one LGA in Cross River State. These include: Mbo LGA, Oron LGA, Okobo LGA, Urue-offong Oruko LGA and Udung Uko LGA of Akwa Ibom state; and Bakassi LGA of Cross River State.

Traditionally, the Oron people have a King known as the Ahta Örö. The Ahta has all the Ofong (also known as Ivong or Ifong) Afha and Paramount rulers as members of his traditional Ruling Council. There are high chiefs such as the Ikpoto, Akpha and Okete Okete which are also recognized by the Ahta’s council.

Today, the President General of the Oron Union worldwide is usually regarded as the administrative head of the Oron Nation and second-in-command at the Ahta’s traditional’s Ruling Council.


The Oron people speak a dialect known as “Örö” by the Oronians, but widely called “Oron”, an anglicized spelling and pronunciation. Many Oron people are also fluent in the Efik dialect. Örö has many dialectical similarities with the Ibibio and Annang people, hence many Oronians can communicate proficiently in Ibibio and Annang languages.

The phonemes of Oron comprise seven oral vowels í, ε, e, a, o, σ, u, five plosive consonants b, kp, d, t, k, three nasal consonants m, ŋ, n, three fricative consonants f, s, h, two semi-vowel consonants w, y and one lateral consonant l. The lateral consonant is an unusual feature of Oro and it is not found in most neighbouring varieties.

The Oron language does not possess any affixes or verb forms to express passive actions; ‘he is received’ becomes ‘they receive him’. Finally, it may be noted that the relative order of the simple Oron sentence is subject-verb-object.[1]


The migration pattern of Oron people was similar to that of the Efik Eburutu people. In fact, Efik people regard the Oron people as part of the larger community of Calabar people.

Some quarters also relate Oron and Efik people with Eket (Ekid) people because of very close dialect relationships, especially in the days of the Okpo Ekid. But today, many Oron people avoid such history, although they will accept the fact that they share the same ancestral history with the Ibono, who dwell among the Ekids. The relationship of the Oron with Eket is said to have gone sour when Eket under the regime of Brigadier General U.J. Esuene agreed to be a sub-group of the Ibibio Nation to gain political relevance and advantage. Brig. U.J. Esuene was also said to deny Oron people the opportunity to locate the Exxon Mobil first terminal in Mbo and Effiat.

Oron people encountered Western education relatively early compared to their Southern Nigeria counterparts with the establishment of the Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar in 1895 and the Methodist Boys High School, Oron in 1905. These are the oldest schools in the history of Nigeria.

Culture and traditions

The Oron people have a unique culture and tradition. The Ekpe Society is used in Oron land as the traditional authority. Other ruling secret societies include: the Ekpo, Abang, Edeme awan nkwho, Ekon, Afikegit, Konkoma, Mbok, Ababa, and Nnabo. All these cultural attributes, alongside the Oron people’s hospitality, arts, food, and oil and gas minerals attract tourism and commerce.

The Oron people have a very colourful mode of traditional dressing with a piece of fabric called the Iyara (usually red in colour). The red Iyara is usually worn with a white tailored traditional shirt and wrap-around (wrapper) fabric common to people all over the South-Southern regions Nigeria. Sometimes this attire is combined with a rich native tie, usually a colourful silk fabric worn around the neck. These attires are also commonly worn by the Efik, Ibibios and Annang ethnic groups, except that the Annang and Ibibio people do not wear a red Iyara.

Political Economy

Since the creation of the Oron Union in 1925, Oron people are one of the most formidable and vocal groups in the Southern region of Nigeria. Oron is one of the three major political forces in Akwa Ibom State today.

Since the 1990s, Oron people have been trying to situate the Oron Union in a position to control its political and economic interests. In the past, the Oron Union put up such organizing structures as the Central Working Committee (CWC), Esumbuke Oron, and quite recently, the Oron Think-Tank initiative to address its political aspirations. Overall, Unions in Oron have achieved little success based on the political expectations of most Oron indigenes.

Oron is rich in natural resources including oil and gas. The area has high prospects for increased oil exploration because it has been rated as having one of the highest natural gas deposits in sub-Saharan Africa.


Oron, Nigeria

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