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It will marvel you to know that the name “Abia” is not indigenous and as such has no meaning in Igbo language.

Rather, it is an abbreviation of four of the state’s densely populated regions; Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato, and Afikpo.

It therefore stands to reason that the state gets its culture from the four regions it is named after.

Abia State was carved out of the former Imo State in 1991. It is one of the thirty-six (36) States with seventeen (17) Local government areas (LGAs) that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abia people are of the Igbo ethnic group, with up to 25 traditional rulers, who are one of the indigenous peoples of Southeastern part of Nigeria.

Their traditional language is Igbo as its citizens are predominantly Igbo people (95 per cent of population).

English is widely spoken and serves as the official language in governance and business. Abia’s over 2.4 million people are mainly Christians.

Mode of Dressing: Abia State is richly endowed culturally and this is evident in the people’s mode of dressing, dancing, arts and crafts, as well as festivals and the widely known lgbo traditional hospitality.

The traditional apparel for the men is an over-flowing jumper or long-sleeve shirt worn over a “George” wrapper tied around the waist and flowing down to the ankles. This dress is complemented with a cap and a walking stick for support and defence.

For the women, the traditional wear is a blouse over an “Abada” or “George”, around the waist. This outfit goes with a headgear, earrings and necklace.

Music And Dance: In Abia State, different types of music abound to suit various occasions. There is music for work, leisure, childbirth, funeral, and for different festivals. Much of the traditional music is a combination of the vocal and instrumental artistry which produces a tuneful melody.

Musical instruments such as the gong, iar, leather drums, wooden drums, traditional flute the (Oja), earthen-pot drums and a host of percussion instruments abound. Some famous traditional lit- music and dances are the Ekpe dance in Arochukwu; the Bende and Ohafia war dance; and the Egwu Ukwu (waist dance) of Isiala Ngwa.

Festivals, Arts And Crafts: Each community in Abia State has different festivals celebrated in honour of its gods and goddesses, or to mark important events.

The beginning of the planting season as well as the harvest season are celebrated annually. The New Yam festival, celebrated as thanksgiving to God (Chukwu) by everyone, is pervasive in lgbo land.

Works of art produced in the state include carved doors, stools, walking sticks, traditional flutes, mortars, gongs and pestles. One work of art particularly worthy of note is the traditional “Akwete’ cloth of Ukwa East.

An outline of the lgbo cultural heritage will be incomplete without a word or two of the lgbo traditional hospitality to visitors.

This is reflected in the presentation of kolanuts to visitors. The kolanut signifies that the visitors are heartily welcome.

The rituals of the presentation of the kolanut are consummated with the offering of prayers and thanksgiving or request to the supreme God and other deities for the protection of the visitor and the host.

Religion:
The people of Abia State are predominantly Christians of different denominations. There are also a good number of Muslims, with adherents of the two religions living together peacefully.

Some people in the state are animists, who believe in a Being called “Chukwu.” The traditional worshippers believes in the ability of deities to exercise strong influence on the destiny of man.

Economy

Oil and Gas: Crude oil and gas production is a prominent activity, as it contributes over 39 per cent of the State’s GDP.

There are over 100 oil wells and 3 installed flow stations in Abia State. There is also an associated gas plant, Abia/NNPC gas plant.

As of 2012, boundary Commission said it returned 42 oil wells from neighbouring Rivers State to Abia.

This would have meant Abia being fourth largest oil producing state in the county. Oil giant, Shell, holds most of the licenses for the wells in the State and has concentrated on the estimated 50 wells that are considered high-yield.

Manufacturing Sector: The manufacturing sector only accounts for 2 per cent of the GDP. The industrial centre of the state is in Aba, with textile manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, soap, plastics, cement, footwear, and cosmetics.

In addition to the above, Abia State Government have just built a 9000 capacity multipurpose International Conference Centre in Umuahia. This edifice of international standard was built by Governor T.A. Orji to enhance tourism as well as boost the State economy through hosting of major International and Local events.

Agriculture: Representing 27 per cent of the GDP. Agriculture, which employs 70 per cent of the state workforce, is the second economic sector of Abia.

With its adequate seasonal rainfall, Abia has much arable land that produces yams, maize, potatoes, rice, cashews, plantains, taro, and cassava. Oil palm is the most important cash crop.

University and Colleges: There are four universities in the state: the federal-owned Michael Okpara University of Agriculture at Umudike, the state-owned Abia State University in Uturu, the Gregory University Uturu (privately owned) and Rhema University in Aba also (privately owned).

There are two tertiary hospitals, the Federal Medical Center in Umuahia and the Abia State University Teaching Hospital in Aba, which serve as referral hospitals in the State. The Abia State Polytechnic is also in the city of Aba.

There are two major power plants in Abia, The Alaoji Power plant and the Geometric Power plant. Abia is one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria and has been a “haven” for foreign investors. The state’s population has grown rapidly since its creation.

Excerpts: wikipedia and onlinenigeria.com

Author: Taofeek Ayeyemi