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Overview of History of Delta State, Senatorial District and Ethnic Groups

Nuelson Penuel Sunday, February 11, 2024 Basis

 

Introduction:

Nestled in the southern part of Nigeria, Delta State whose headquarter is Asaba is a region with a vibrant and captivating history. It lies roughly between longitudes 5°00 and 6°45’E and latitudes 5°00 and 6°30’N. It has a total land area of 16,842 sq. km. Enriched by its diverse ethnic groups, natural resources, and historical heritage, the state has evolved into a melting pot of cultures and a hub of economic activities. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey through time to uncover the fascinating history of Delta State, exploring its remarkable milestones and the tapestry of influences that have shaped its identity.

Pre-colonial Era:

Long before the arrival of European colonizers, different ethnic groups coexisted in what is now Delta State. Notably, the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, and Ndokwa were among the prominent indigenous communities. Each community had its unique socio-political structure, customs, and traditions which fostered a rich cultural mosaic.

Colonial Era:

The British colonization of Nigeria in the 19th century had a profound impact on Delta State. The region became an important trade center due to its proximity to the Niger River and the oil-rich Niger Delta. In 1884, the British established the Niger Coast Protectorate, which eventually led to the formation of the British protectorate of Oil Rivers in 1891. This marked the colonial administration's control over the area, including present-day Delta State. It started with twelve (12) Local Government Areas, but later split further into nineteen (19) LGAs on September 27, 1991. And finally, in 1997 it was further split into twenty five (25) LGAs in 1997.

Independence and the Creation of Delta State:

Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule on October 1, 1960. However, the Niger Delta region, including present-day Delta State, faced numerous challenges. These challenges fueled demands for political and economic autonomy, which ultimately led to the creation of Delta State on August 27, 1991 under the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. The state was carved out from the former Bendel State, catering to the diverse ethnic groups inhabiting the region.

Cultural Heritage and Festivals:

Delta State boasts a rich cultural heritage, with each ethnic group contributing to the diversity of its traditions, festivals, and artistic expressions. The Igbuzo and Nembe festivals showcase the cultural heritage of the Igbo and Ijaw communities, respectively, while the Urhobo people celebrate the captivating Okpobrisi festival. The Igue festival, celebrated by the Benin people, is another notable event known for its colorful display of Benin culture.

Oil and Economic Development:

The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in the Niger Delta region significantly impacted Delta State. The state became an important player in Nigeria's oil industry, with oil and gas exploration and production driving economic growth. The oil industry has spurred infrastructural development, job opportunities, and increased revenue for the state, albeit with some environmental challenges that are being addressed.

Tourism and Natural Beauty:

Delta State's natural beauty and tourist attractions are captivating. The state is home to the enchanting Oloori Mountain, the awe-inspiring Ursine Mountain, and the tranquil River Ethiope, one of Nigeria's deepest inland waterways. Additionally, the splendid Koka Beach offers a pristine coastal experience for visitors. The state also features historic sites such as the ancient Aboh Kingdom and Otuogu Beach, known for its connection to Nigeria's struggle for independence.

Major Ethnic Group

The major ethnic group in Delta State is the Urhobo people. The Urhobo are one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria, and they make up a significant part of the population in Delta State. They predominantly inhabit the central and southern areas of the state, including Ughelli, Warri, and Effurun. The Urhobo people have a rich cultural heritage and a distinct language called Urhobo, which belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. They have a long history and are known for their agricultural practices, particularly in farming and fishing. The Urhobo people have a well-organized traditional system of governance with kings known as Ovie. The Urhobo culture is characterized by vibrant festivals, traditional dance forms like the Ekwerre and Oghwoghwo, and various artistic expressions such as pottery, wood carving, and weaving. Their cuisine mainly consists of staple food items like cassava, yam, and plantain, which are prepared in diverse and delicious ways. Apart from the Urhobo, the Itsekiri, Isoko, Ijaw, and Ndokwa people are also significant ethnic groups in Delta State. Each group contributes to the cultural diversity and heritage of the state, bringing with them unique traditions, languages, and socio-economic practices.

Local Government Areas (25 LGAs)

Delta State is divided into 25 Local Government Areas (LGAs). The LGAs in Delta State are: 1. Aniocha North 2. Aniocha South 3. Bomadi 4. Burutu 5. Ethiope East 6. Ethiope West 7. Ika North East 8. Ika South 9. Isoko North 10. Isoko South 11. Ndokwa East 12. Ndokwa West 13. Okpe 14. Oshimili North 15. Oshimili South 16. Patani 17. Sapele 18. Udu 19. Ughelli North 20. Ughelli South 21. Ukwuani 22. Uvwie 23. Warri North 24. Warri South 25. Warri South West Each LGA is further divided into wards and communities, contributing to the administrative and governance structure of Delta State.

Delta State Senatorial Zones/Districts

Delta State is divided into three senatorial zones/districts in Nigeria. These senatorial zones are:

1. Delta Central Senatorial District:

This district consists of eight Local Government Areas (LGAs) which are Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Ethiope East, Ethiope West, Sapele, Okpe, Uvwie, and Udu. It is located in the central part of Delta State.

2. Delta South Senatorial District:

This district consists of six LGAs which are Warri South, Warri North, Warri South West, Burutu, Isoko South, and Isoko North. It is located in the southern part of Delta State and covers the riverine areas.

3. Delta North Senatorial District:

This district consists of nine LGAs which are Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East, Ika South, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South, and Ukwuani. It is located in the northern part of Delta State. Each senatorial district is represented by a senator in the National Assembly, specifically in the Nigerian Senate. These senators represent and advocate for the interests of their respective districts at the federal level.

Conclusion:

The history of Delta State is a tapestry woven with threads of culture, heritage, and resilience. It is a region that has embraced its diverse ethnic makeup, navigated the challenges of colonization, and capitalized on its vast natural resources. As Delta State continues to evolve, it remains a testament to the indomitable spirit of its people and a beacon of Nigeria's rich history and cultural diversity. Exploring the state's past provides a deeper appreciation for its present accomplishments and a glimpse into its promising future.

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