PEOPLE, POPULATION AND SETTLEMENTPost Comment PEOPLE, POPULATION AND SETTLEMENT Nigeria
Ethnic Composition and Languages: Yobe State is pluralistic in ethnic composition, with a rich and diverse historical and cultural heritage. Table 35.2 shows the location of the ethnic and language groups in the state. There are five major ethnic groups in the state. These are the Kanuri, Fulani, KareKare, Bade and Hausa. The official language, as in every state of the country, is English. However, Hausa has gained wide acceptability as a medium of communication. The two dominant religions are Islam and Christianity.
Culture and the Arts: The people of Yobe are well known for their Durbar, rich culture and tradi tions arising from their historical connection with north Africa and eastern Arabia. The durbar provides illuminating perspective to the display of horses, regalia and spectacular horsemanship to bring about colour, pomp and pageantry to the joy of spectators.
It also provides the best atmosphere for traditional and political leaders to put heads together to discuss significant issues relating to the overall development of the state as well as to tackle prevailing problems, with a view to finding meaningful, acceptable and lasting solutions to them.
It is because of this, that the Durbar is usually organ ised on such important occasions as Sallah cele brations, turbaning ceremonies of traditional rulers and visits of important personalities. Another prominent feature of Yobe State's cultural heritage is the Bade fishing and cultural festival, performed yearly in Jakusko local government of the state. Local wrestling and boxing (popular in all local government areas) are exciting pasttime entertainments.
Population Structure and Distribution: Yobe State, with a land area of about 47,153 sq.km, has a total population of 1,411,481 according to the final 1991 census results. At an estimated growth rate of 3.25 percent, the population of Yobe State in 1999 is projected to be 1,778,466. The average population density is 29.92 persons per sq. km. The density level, however, varies from one local government to another.
For example, Nangere has a den sity level of about fiftythree persons per sq. km. while Vunusari and Geidam have density levels of nineteen persons per sq. km. and seventeen per sons per sq. km. respectively. The pattern of population distribution in Yobe State can be divided into three density levels as follows: Sparsely populated areas with less than twenty people per sq. km..
Moderately populated areas, with densities of between twenty and forty people per sq.km.; and Densely populated areas, with densities of over forty people per sq. km. The densely populated areas are found in the westcentral part of the state while the sparsely populated areas are found in the extreme northern part of the state.
In the southern part of the state, population concentrations are mainly in the urban centres of Fika, Gujba, Damagun and Damaturu, the capital city. The dense population concentration in the Nangere, Bade and Jakusko LGAs can be associated with physical, historical and economic factors. For example, favourable climatic, edaphic and ecological conditions have contributed to encouraging settlers in and around Potiskum. The harsh climatic conditions, more than any thing else, tend to be responsible for the sparse population in the extreme northern part of the state.
AgeSex Structure: The age structure of the population of Yobe State is like that of any other part of Nigeria. The proportion of the young is generally high, about 45 percent are fifteen years and below. Those between the ages of sixteen and sixtyfive (i.e. working class) form about 64 percent.
The aged (above sixtyfive years) comprise about 2.0 percent. The overall age structure shows that the population dependency ratio is 92.4 per cent and implies a high population growth rate.There are noticeable differences in the sex ratio. Table 35.3 shows that there were more men than women. This difference appears to be consistent in all the local government councils except Fika and Nangere LGAs, where females outnumber males.
Settlement Patterns and Urbanization: Although the rate of urbanisation is rapidly increas ing, Yobe State is still primarily a rural state. More than 1,058,000 (representing 75.65 per cent) of the total population live in the various rural settlements (numbering 1,715), while only about 24.35 per cent of the people are living in five urban centres of more than 20,000 population (NPC, 1997).
Thus, a rational and efficient organisation of this extensive rural space and population may prove to be of pro found importance to the overall development of the state. The pattern of settlements here is basically a product of the past and present economic, cultural, historical and ecological factors. Generally, Yobe state is sparsely populated, with pockets of high densities in the urban and semiurban areas (mainly local government headquarters).
The spatial organisation of settlements is characterised by a network of central villages and market towns. Since the land is generally a flat plain, nucleated settle ment patterns have been developed. Settlements are mainly located on stabilised sand dunes and around water points or where oasis exist; villages are well spaced out on the plains to allow each set tlement the minimum amount of productive land to support its inhabitants.
Centralisation of political authority during the period of state and local gov ernment creation enhanced the capacity of towns for further growth. Primatecity type of economic landscape is not very significant in Yobe State (Oguntoyinbo, 1978). The location of transport routes, industries, social facilities and the growth of a cashcrop economy, all enhance the rapid growth and expansion of the main urban and semiurban centres in the state.
Towns like Damaturu, Potiskum, Gashua, Nguru, Fika, etc. have increased the administrative services they render to their respective local government areas. Many more schools, banks, shops, modern hotels and factories have been built over the years. The result is a general increase in the population of the towns and considerable expansion of housing and other facilities. The major flow process facilitating this new concentration in large settlements is rural to urban migrations.
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