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Area :………………………………………………… 21,100 Sq.Km
Population: ……………………………………. Estimated at 2,000,000
Climate and Vegetation
Bayelsa lies in the heaviest rainfall area in Nigeria, with heavy rain forest and a short dry season (from November to March).
Humid: 300C (mean)
According to the 1952 Census Report, the ljaws of the Niger Delta region have been recognised as one of the ten major ethnic groups with a population of 0.9 million. During the colonial administration, a separate province was created for them. The amalgamation of Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914 triggered the fear among minority ethnic groups of political domination; hence their agitation for a distinct state comprising the old Brass, Degema and Western ljaw Divisions, under the umbrella of ljaw National Group, started in earnest. During the colonial period, Britain signed many treaties of protection with the chiefs of many coastal communities, especially the ljaws, with the hope that at Nigeria’s independence in 1960, a nation state would be created for them.
Between 1941 and 1956, many nationalist movements were formed mainly to establish ljaw political sovereignty. They pressed the issue of separate political sovereignty before the Willink Commission 1958. In order to allay the fears of the ethnic minorities, the Willink Commission recommended the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) to tackle the problems of underdevelopment of the area, environmental neglect and political domination. Despite the establishment of the Board, the agitation for state creation, based on the above stated problems, continued until the military wrested political power and control of Nigeria from civilians on 15th January 1966.
In February 1966, Isaac Boro, an ljaw man from Kaiama town in Bayelsa State, with Sam Owonaro, Nottingham Dick and thousands of their supporters unilaterally proclaimed a “Niger Delta Peoples Republic.” But the Federal Government brought the rebellion to a sudden end. On May 27, 1967, the then Rivers State (which was made up the present Rivers and Bayelsa States) was created.
Bayelsa State was created on October 1, 1996 out of the old Rivers State. The name, Bayelsa, is an acronym of three former Local Government areas – Brass, Yenagoa and Sagbama – in the then Rivers State, which had earlier on comprised the entire area now constituting Bayelsa State. The then Brass LGA is what makes up the present Nembe, Brass and Ogbia Local Government Areas; the then Yenagoa LGA consist of the present Yenagoa, Kolokuma/Opokuma and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas and the then Sagbama LGA is what makes up the present Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas.
The tradition in the old Rivers State, which is still the norm in Bayelsa State now, is the use of acronyms for local government areas. People referred to Brass Local Government Area as BALGA, for short; Yenagoa was simply YELGA, while Sagbama was SALGA. Since personalities from BALGA, YELGA, and SALGA made up the State Creation Movement prior to the 1996 exercise, the proposed name agreed upon was BAYELSA.
Since its creation, Bayelsa State has had the following chief executives:
Navy Captain Philip Oladipo Ayeni (Military Governor: 1 October, 1996 – 28 February, 1997).
Police Commissioner Habu Daura (Acting Governor: 28 February, 1997 – 27 June, 1997).
Navy Capitain Omoniyi Caleb Olubolade (Military Governor: 27 June, 1997 – 9 July, 1998).
Lt. Col. Paul Edor Obi (Military Administrator: 9 July, 1998 – 29 May, 1999).
Chief Dr. Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha (JP) (first Executive Governor: 29 May 1999 – 9 December 2005)
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (second Executive Governor: 12 December 2005 – 29 May 2007).
Chief Timipre Sylva (Executive Governor: 29 May 2007 – 16 April 2008)
Rt. Hon. Werinipre Seibarugu (Acting Governor: 16 April 2008 – 27 May, 2008)
Chief Timipre Sylva (Executive Governor: 27 May, 2008 – Date)
Chief Nestor Ibinabo (Executive Governor: 27 Jan 2012 – 14th February 2012 )
Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson (Executive Governor: 14th Feb 2012 – Date)
Bayelsa State is geographically located within Latitude 04o 15’ North, 05 o 23’ South and longitude 05 o 22’ West and 06 o 45’ East. It shares boundaries with Delta State on the North, Rivers State on the East and the Atlantic Ocean on the West and South.
Bayelsa State is a picturesque tropical rain forest, with an area of about 21,110 square kilometres. More than three quarters of this area is covered by water, with a moderately low land stretching from Ekeremor to Nembe. The area lies almost entirely below sea level with a maze of meandering creeks and mangrove swamps. The network of several creeks and rivers in the South, all flow into the Atlantic Ocean via the major rivers such as San Bartholomew, Brass, Nun, Ramos, Santa Barbara, St. Nicholas, Sangana, Fishtown, Ikebiri Creek, Middleton, Digatoro Creek, Pennington and Dobo. The vegetation here is characterized by the mangrove forest. In the North, it has a thick forest with arable lands for cultivation of various food and cash crops.
PEOPLE AND LANGUAGE
There are four main languages in Bayelsa State, which are Izon, Nembe, Ogbia and Epie-Atissa. The predominant religions in the State are Christianity and Traditional worship. Bayelsa State has 24 first class traditional rulers (and many second and third class traditional rulers) recognized by the State Government.
The major occupations in the State are fishing, farming, palm oil milling, lumbering, palm wine tapping, local gin making, trading, carving and weaving.
COMMERCE, PETROLEUM AND INDUSTRY
Bayelsa State is a major oil and gas producing area and it contributes over 30% of Nigeria’s oil production. These are hundreds of oil wells and flow stations across the state. Oloibiri in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state is where oil was first struck in Nigeria in commercial quantities in 1956. Gas production activities are currently being intensified in the State. The LNG Gas Supply Plant that supplies 53% of the gas feedstock to the LNG plant in Bonny is located in Oluasiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. There is a proposed network of associated gas gathering pipelines from the Nembe Creek oilfields to the LNG plant. The major oil exploration and production companies operating in the State are Shell, Agip and ChevronTexaco.
The Kolo Creek Gas Turbine Project owned by the Bayelsa State Government supplies electricity to Yenagoa, the State Capital, and surrounding towns and villages.
In addition to oil and gas, the State has large reserves of clay, sand and gravel’s of importance to the industrial sector.