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NATURAL RESOURCES AND POTENTIALS FOR DEVELOPMENT


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PEOPLE, POPULATION AND SETTLEMENT
Posted to the web: 1/30/2003 7:55:55 AM
 
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Ethnic Composition, Language, Culture and the Arts: The people of Ebonyi State are of lgbo stock. However, there are also nonlgbo speaking indigenes. The nonlgbo speaking people of the state include the Okpotos and the Ntezis in Ishielu Local Government Area. English is widely spoken as the second language, and a visitor will be under stood anywhere in the state, if he can speak English language or its local variant, the pidgin.

 

 Ebonyi State Building Materials Industry, Ezzambo
Ebonyi State Building Materials Industry, Ezzambo

Ebonyi State is richly endowed culturally. The traditional mode of dressing for the men is an over flowing jumper or longsleeve shirt worn over a George wrapper tied around the waist and flowing down to the ankles. This is complemented with a cap and a walking stick for support and defence.

For the women, the traditional dress is a blouse over an Abada or George wrapper around the waist. This outfit goes with a headgear, earrings and necklaces.

Two important traditional festivals are observed every year: the masquerade and the New Yam Festivals. The masquerade is a very important and colourful institution, and features the Omaba Ekpe and Ogbodu masquerades.

The New Yam festival is known by various names, such as Joku, lhejoku or Njoku ji. The festival marks the end of the farm ing season and ushers in the harvest and con sumption of the new yam.

There are a variety of colourful dances in the State. The notable ones are the "Nkwa Umuagbogho" of Ehugbo, "Nkwa Nwite" of Ehugbo, "Oji anya lere" of Amasiri, "Uri" and "Akpoha lgurube" and the "Dibugwu" cultural dances of OgbuEdda. Traditional industries and works of art include blacksmithing at Ezza and pottery works at Ishiagu in lvo LGA. Other works of art produced in the State include carved doors and stools, walking sticks, tra ditional flutes, wooden mortars and pestles.

Population Structure and Distribution:

Ebonyi State has a population of about 1.7 million people on a total land area of 5,935 sq. km. This gives a population density of 286 persons per sq. km. Population concentration is highest in the urban areas. Table 11.3 gives a breakdown of the popu lation of the state by Local Government Areas.

Urban and Rural Development and Problem of Urban Primary: Ebonyi State has three impor tant urban centres: Abakaliki, Afikpo and Onueke.

Abakaliki Market
Abakaliki Market

Abakaliki, the state capital, has a vibrant econ omy based essentially on its traditional role as a market centre for the produce of the rich agricultur al hinterland, buoyant with rice and yam. The town has an impressive infrastructural network, particu larly in terms of road network and water supply, anchored on the Greater Abakatiki Water Scheme.

Ageneral hospital is located in Abakaliki, in addition to Ebonyi State University, and recreational facilities such as parks and an ultramodern golf course. Afikpo, the second major town, is noted for the educational institutions located in the area, particu larly, the Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Uwana.

The third main urban centre is Onueke, which is the headquarters of Ezza South Local Government Area. The area is noted as an important centre for food production.

Besides the above urban areas, the headquar ters of the other local government areas are functional and effective 'central places' Most of these fall within the countryside, each with its own requisite infrastructure, indicative of the wide scope of incipi ent urbanization which is generally taking root in the state. Rural development programmes of the Ebony

State government emphasise road construction and rehabilitation, aimed at improving access to the hitherto marginally exploited farmlands for the evacuation of agricultural produce to urban mar kets. Rural electrification schemes are also pursued as an essential infrastructure for successful small scale and cottage industrial schemes.

In addition, various agricultural innovations are being put in place and farmers are encouraged to go into large scale farming through the adoption of these innova tions, which include tractor hiring schemes for till ing; irrigation; land consolidation for extensive and intensive farming; seed and livestock breeding and multiplication; and fish farming.

A Typical Salt House, Okposi
A Typical Salt House, Okposi

Water resources improvement programmes have been instituted to provide clean and safe water in the villages and in guineaworm prone areas. The provision of Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities, and the development of effective rural information delivery system are other important facets of the state's rural development programme.

Effective communal involvement through Community Development Associations (or Town Unions), and Age Grades are also encouraged to promote rural development in Ebonyi State.

Settlement patterns in the urban areas often take the form of distinct neighbourhoods or quar ters. Some of these neighbourhoods are of high density, while others are of medium and low densi ties in varying degrees of admixture. Rural settlements are dispersed over much of the farmlands.

In almost every community, howev er, there are vast unoccupied areas set aside as farmlands and somewhat removed from the settlement. The village is the traditional unit of settlement in most lgbospeaking communities. The dispersed pattern of village settlement is traditional among the people of southeastern Nigeria. Each homestead is made up of houses in an oblong form around a compound.

The hut of the head of the household is separated from those of his wives and adult mem bers of the household. Compounds are often walled, thus separating one compound from the other. Traditional houses are built of local materials, such as clay for the walls and mat or thatch for the roofs.

Increased affluence in some communities has led to the introduction of cement bricks, west ern architectural design concepts and the use of corrugated sheets, into the construction of village homes.

 

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