Posted by on 2/10/2003 11:31:19 AM

Ethnic Composition, Languages, Culture and the Arts: The ethnic composition of Rivers State is very diverse. These

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Complex, Bonny, Rivers State
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Complex, Bonny, Rivers State

include Kalahari, lkwerre, Okrika, lbani (Bonny and Opobo) Ekpeye, Ogba, Etche, Khana, Gokana, Eleme, Ndoni, Abua, Odual. Linguistic scholars have grouped these communities into six major linguistic groups, namely ljoid, lower Niger (lgboid), Ogoni, Central Delta, Delta Edoid, and Lower Cross. The ljoid group comprises four groups of dialects namely eastern ljoid (Kalahari, Bile, Okrika, lbani and Nkoro).

The Lower Niger (lgboid) comprises dialects such as Ekpeye, lkwerre, Ogba, Egbema, Ndoni, Etche, and lgbo. The Ogoni group includes a large num ber of dialects which can be grouped into four Khana, Gokana, Eleme and Ogoi. The Lower Cross group has only one member in Rivers State, with the rest being in Akwa lbom and Cross River States. The language, Obolo, in this group, is spoken in Andoni and Opobo Local Government Areas (Salawu, 1993).

Rivers State, with its diverse ethnic and linguis tic groups, is very rich in culture and the arts. Several cultural bonds exist, particularly in music, dances, plays and masquerades. Literature in Rivers State consists of the oral tradition of folk tales, legends, myths, proverbs, riddles and poetry in religious incantations, and so on. More modem literature includes the novels and peotry of writers like Elechi Amadi, Gabriel Okara and the late Ken Sarowiwa. Production of traditional fired clay and bronze are also common.

Population Size and Distribution: The population of Rivers State is 3,187,864 (Nigeria, 1991) with 51.9 per cent of the

Port Harcourt Refinery, Alasa-Eleme
Port Harcourt Refinery, Alasa-Eleme

population being males and 1,532,217 or 48.1 per cent being females. Rivers State thus account for 3.58 percent of Nigeria's population. The population of Rivers State is unevenly distributed among LGAs, towns and villages, such that ecological and physical con ditions underscore the observed population distribution pattern.

Population density in the State is roughly 284 persons sq. km and against the national average of ninetysix persons per sq. km., the state's population density is very high. The fact is that because of physical conditions of the state, the limited land area for agricultural practices and constant floods, Rivers State's population is concentrated in a few towns and the state headquarters

(Port Harcourt). The low density of population in the central and western parts (riverine area) is due to the limited dry and safe land area for settlement and agricultural practices. Over fifty six percent of the State's population is concentrated in eight LGAs and out of which five of them are in the upland region of the State.

Rural/Urban Settlement: The degree of urbanisation in the State is very low and only nine teen out of 1,079 settlements in the State have pop ulation above 20,000. Generally, urbanisation index is very low (0.24) while the main towns are Port Harcourt, Abonnema, Omoku, Okrika, Oyigbo, Elele, Bonny and Opobo.

According to the 1991 population census, the population of these towns constituted 28 per cent of the State population, and therefore the low urbanisation index of 0.24. With respect to urban-rural gender composition, Salawu showed that urban population had more males than females while rural population had more females than males. This is a possible reflection of the ruralurban migration which is maledominated.

The Problem of Urban Primacy: The primacy of Port Harcouit is not in doubt, as that city alone accounts for 14 per cent of the State population and 39 and 21 percent of stateowned secondary schools and hospitals, respectively. It has the largest number of private secondary schools and hospitals and controls over 86 per cent of all manu facturing activities in the State. By 1991, the total population of Port Harcourt was 440,399, followed by Buguma (82,865) and Okrika (81,558).

Thus, Port Harcourt's population is five times larger than that of Buguma or Okrika (Nigeria, 1991). The creation of more LGAs, the number of which now stands at twenty three, economic development via industrialisation, the neglect of the rural sector and sustained ruralurban migration have all accelerat ed urban growth and development in Rivers State. The number of urban centres with population of 20,000 and above increased from one in 1963 to nineteen in 1991.

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