PEOPLE, POPULATION AND SETTLEMENT

Posted by on 1/14/2003 7:36:19 PM
Post Comment PEOPLE, POPULATION AND SETTLEMENT Nigeria

Ethnic Composition, Languages, Culture and the Arts: At the founding of the Ibibio State Union in 1928, the entire people of what is today Akwa lbom State identified themselves as Ibibios, except perhaps the Oron and Ibeno along the coast. All the inhabitants of the state understand the Ibibio language of which there are many dialects. The apparent ethnic homogeneity of the state became disrupted as far back as 1951 when party politics brought about leadership disputes. Thereafter, some sub-groups hived off to create a situation which has engendered dubious ethnic identities, viz: Ibibio, Annang, Oron, Ibeno and Andoni. The size of the population of each group is yet to be satisfactorily computed from the 1991 census data. The provisional figures, however, show that over thirty per cent of the people live in the six Annang Local Government Areas, while just less than 10 per cent live in the four Oron Local Government Areas. The Ibibio proper, therefore, constitute about 60 per cent of the population. Culture and Arts: The culture and arts of the people are greatly influenced by their religious beliefs and their basic occupations of farming and fishing. The great majority of the people profess Christianity, leaving a small minority as adherents of African traditional religion. Until about 1970, the dominant Christian sects were Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Qua lboe and Lutheran. The last twenty years has witnessed the registration of over 100 Pentecostal Christian sects, in addition to the syncretic Brotherhood of the Cross and Star which has a large following. A large number of professed Christians, however, still believe in and practise some aspects of traditional religion.

The numerous traditional cults, secret societies, oracles, mythology, folklore and festivals, along with modifications imposed by the Christian religion, have combined to produce a great variety of beliefs and religious practices. Colourful masquerades include "ekpo", "ekoncf', "iborrf', "ekpe" and "oborf'. Except during important state occasions such as the funeral of prominent citizens or the installation of traditional rulers, these masquerades appear on the streets mostly towards the end of the farming year, that is during harvests.

Carved masks for the various masquerades is an art form which provides employment for certain lineages in each clan. In addition, Oron is noted for its ancestral figures (ekpu) carved from hardwood. The "ekpLf' portraits are about 1.22m high and have long pointed beards growing from the chin. They are very distinct from Ibibio art works and many of the figures at the Oron Mus'eum are over 120 years old. Giant slit drums, carved from hard-wood and used only on very important occasions, are produced at Ikot Ekpene and Uyo LGAs.

Population Structure and Distribution: The population of the area now known as Akwa lbom State in 1953 was 893,216. This had grown to 2,656,222 in 1963, and according to the 1991 census, the provisional figures of the State stood at a total population of 2,359,736.

The 2,359,736 people in the state are distributed as shown in Table 3.1. The largest concentration (10 per cent) of the population is at Uyo, followed by ltu (7.7 per cent) Ikot Ekpene (6.6 per cent) and Onna/Essien Udim and Oruk Anam with about 5 per cent each. In other words, the population is evenly distributed, the least populated being Urue Offong/Oruko. The average population density of the state, which has an area of 8,421 sq.km is 280 persons per sq.km. Since over 80 per cent of the people still live in rural areas, the concentration of the people in some districts is very high. Etinan, Eket and parts of Ikot Ekpene, Onna and Essien Udim LGAs, have very high population densities of over 400 persons per sq. km. These are amongst the most densely populated areas in Nigeria. Other densely populated areas with more than 300 persons per sq. km include Mkpat Enin, Ukanafun, Ekpe Atai and parts of ltu LGAs.

There are also vast areas of permanent swamps along the Enyong Creek and the coastal areas of Eket, Mbo and Oron, which are either very sparsely populated or totally uninhabited. There are swampy areas, unsuitable for settlement in the lower Cross River State Valley in Ibiono, ltu and Uruan LGAs. The density ranges between 128 and 824 persons per sq. km. Ikono and Uyo have the lowest and highest densities respectively. The female population of Akwa lbom State has always been more than that of the male. For instance in 1953, there were 467,000 females to 426.000 males. Bv 1963. the Dooulation had risen to 832,000 females and 763,000 males. The 1991 population figures gave a total of 1,197,000 females and 1,162,000 males. Apart from Eket, Ikot-Abasi, Mbo, Onna, Oron, Uquo-lbeno; and Nsit lbom, most local government areas recorded more females than males in the 1991 census. This is partly caused by the selective nature of the out migration process in which male migrants predominate.

Urban and Rural Development and Pattern of Human Settlement: The state is still predominantly rural in character. Out of 1,614 recognisable settlements, 1,557 are villages of various sizes ranging from hamlets to expanded villages, all of which lack the basic traits of an urban place. In terms of spatial distribution, Ikono, Ini, Mbo, Okobo, Uruefong, Etim Ekpo, lka, Essien Udim, Nsit Ubium, Ibiono, EkpeAtai and Uquo Ibeno LGAs are all rural.

There are only nine settlements in the State which are developing urban features. These are Abak, Eket, Uyo, Etinan, Ikot Abasi, Ikot Ekpene,

ltu, Oron and Ukanafun. Uyo, the state capital, is in a class of its own, with over 200 sq. km. Eket and Ikot Ekpene constitute another class, while the remaining six semi-urbanized settlements conveniently group into the category of small-size towns. Recently, settlements that are semi-urban in character are springing up in the headquarters of the new LGAs and also at prominent nodes along the road network. Such settlements with population of between 3,000 and 5,000 people have a more virile commercial base, sometimes including some wholesale trade. They are therefore the co-ordinating centres for all rural socio-economic development, to which the smaller settlements are linked in the first instance. Ibiaku Ntok Okpo, Nung Udoe Ibesikpo, Ekpat Akwa and Oko-lta all belong to this emerging group of semi urbanized settlements. The urban areas provide higher order goods and services to the lower order settlements around them. At the apex of the hierarchical arrangement is Uyo, the state capital, which is the highest order central place.

Problem of Urban Primacy: Uyo is the only urban centre with well-developed internal structure and a clearly defined central business district. Even before its status as the state capital, Uyo was traditionally the major focus of effective urban planning. Recently, planning efforts have intensified especially with respect to ensuring congruity of land use. The downtown, locally referred to as "the circus", is an intersection of the five major feeder roads in the State capital. These are Oron, Wellington Bassey, Ikot Ekpene, Abak and Aka Roads. Around their nodes of intersection, is the central business district, dominated by banks, insurance companies, the central market and other service organisations.

The administrative and constitutional status of Akwa lbom State does not imply spatial independence of her system of human settlements. In a wider regional setting, the settlements function as integral components of the national system of settlements. The nature and pattern of interaction is dictated by many factors among which are the spatial distribution of the existing major urban centres in the regional setting, available communication corridors and the relative buoyancy of the socioeconomic activities in the respective inter-linked urban centres. In its immediate neighbourhood, the Akwa lbom State settlement subsystem nests into those of the major urban centres of other states such as Port Harcourt, Aba, Calabar, Owerri and Onitsha. Further away, it has strong links with Lagos, Abuja, the new Federal Capital and other cities in Nigeria.




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