1. Longest coastline in West Africa
Nigeria’s longest coastline, measuring 129 kilometres from Oron to Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas, is in Akwa Ibom State. Ibeno Beach, for instance, stretches along the Atlantic coastline for about 30 kilometers from Ibeno to James Town. It is well known for being the longest beach in the West African region and a popular travel destination. Ibeno, which is home to ExxonMobil Plc’s operational headquarters, has a stunning coastline that offers countless opportunities for participating in water sports like diving, swimming, water aerobics, beach soccer, boating, water basketball, water polo, water volleyball, jet skiing, etc.
2. First state-owned airline in Nigeria
In a country where the Federal Government has woefully failed to operate a national carrier, Ibom Air, the commercial airline owned by the Akwa Ibom State government, has already celebrated three years of existence. The state-owned airline, the first of its kind in Nigeria, commenced scheduled flights operations on Friday, June 7, 2019, with an inaugural flight from Uyo to Lagos. Currently, the airline has flown over one and a half million passengers in about 22, 000 flights and has come to be respected for its schedule reliability, on-time departures, and excellent in-flight services. Ibom Air, which has a fleet of seven aircraft made up of two (2) Airbus A220-300 and five (5) Bombardier CRJ 900, has won Nigeria’s Airline of the Year twice in a row, in 2020 and 2021, respectively. It travels to seven (7) locations: Uyo, Abuja, Calabar, Enugu, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Yenagoa.
3. Largest petroleum and gas reserve in Nigeria
Akwa Ibom has the largest natural oil and gas reserve in Nigeria and contributes the largest chunk to the country’s revenue earnings. The state produces 504,000 bpd of oil, representing 31.4 percent of the country’s total production capacity. The Nigerian economy relies heavily on crude oil, which accounts for more than 90% of the country’s exports and 20% of the workforce. In 2010, ExxonMobil, a Joint Venture (JV) partner of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), announced the discovery of a rich gas condensate in its Oil Mining License (OML) 104 located offshore in Akwa Ibom. This discovery significantly increased Nigeria’s gas reserves.
4. The Best Golf Resort
Bordered by a glistening river and encased on a sweeping landscape with gangly palm trees and lush green vegetation, the Akwa Ibom Golf Resort which sits on 174 hectares of land in the womb of Nigeria’s tropical rainforest is as beautiful as it is breathtaking. The dreamy atmosphere of the world-class 18-hole golf course creates the ideal setting not only for a challenging and memorable golfing experience but also for natural relaxation and healing. A wonderful experience awaits you each time you visit this unique location in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
5. Home to oldest local government area in West Africa
British colonialists created the Ikot Ekpene Division in 1951 to make the administration of the local population easier. It is Nigeria’s first local government council, having been established as an experiment in the then British West Africa. At the time, it included the Ikot Ekpene Urban, Otoro, Central Annang, and Eastern Ibibio Ikono District councils.
Ikot Ekpene is in the middle of a road triangle that connects Cross River State, Umuahia, and Aba. Its advantageous location makes it a very thriving and financially viable commercial city in Annang land. The area is also known for its raffia products, which gives rise to the moniker “Raffia City.” Artisans use raffia to make shoes, handbags, slippers, folders, etc.
6. Home to first Roman Catholic Cardinal in British West Africa
Dominic Ignatius Ekandem, the first West African Catholic Bishop as well as the first Roman Catholic cardinal, was born in Ibiono Local Government in Akwa Ibom State on June 23,1917. He completed his formal education in a number of Catholic institutions before he was, on December 7, 1947, ordained as the first priest from the Old Calabar Province.
About six years later, he was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of Calabar from 1953-1963 and thereafter became the Bishop of Ikot Ekpene till 1981. While serving in Ikot Ekpene, he was installed a cardinal on May 24, 1976, by Pope John Paul VI. He was assigned to Abuja, where he was named Ecclesiastical Superior of Abuja, and when Abuja became an Archdiocese in 1989, he became its first Archbishop. In 1992, he resigned as Archbishop of the Abuja Archdiocese.
His Eminence Dominic Cardinal Ignatius Ekandem died on November 24, 1995, in Garki, Abuja, and was buried on December 2, 1995, in Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral in Garki, Abuja.
7. First Governor General of Uganda, Justice Egbert Udo Udoma
Sir Egbert Udo Udoma, KBE, one of Nigeria’s top jurists, was born in Akwa Ibom State on June 21, 1917. He went from a low beginning to become a Supreme Court justice and Uganda’s chief justice from 1963 to 1969. His mum, Adiaha Edem Udo Udoma, a women’s leader, and around 400 women in Opobo Division were massacred by colonial troops and police in 1929 during a protest to end women’s taxation.
Young Udoma attended Methodist College, Uzuakoli, then went to Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) with the backing of the Ibibio Union, which he later led. First black African to get PhD in Law from Oxford; knighted by Queen Elizabeth; was a Methodist and Knight of John Wesley. He returned to Nigeria to practice law in the 1940s but was influenced by nationalist ideas.
He served 13 years on Nigeria’s Supreme Court and led the Constituent Assembly from 1977 to 1978. He joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) early on but left the party after Nnamdi Azikiwe removed Eyo Ita, an Ibeno man, as Eastern Region’s leader. Udo Udoma was a member of the federal House of Representatives for the United National Independence Party and had pushed for the creation of Calabar/Ogoja/Rivers state. He was one of Nigeria’s founding fathers.
8. Ibibio Union, first ethnic body in Nigeria to institute overseas scholarship for its members
Ibibio Union was established in Uyo on April 28, 1928, and it was the first organised body of an ethnic nationality in Nigeria. The Union strove to influence, adapt, and fight the colonial system through collective representation. The troubles caused by the Warrant Chiefs, the arrogance of their tribunals, forced labor, tax demands, and the general discomfort of complying to the various and frequently unreasonable colonial demands were among the original causes of the formation of the Ibibio Union.
The Union supported populist values of quality education, good roads, improved agricultural product prices, and clean and safe water supply. Despite a few affluent members, the Union was primarily a mechanism for promoting Ibibio communal interests. In 1938, the Union, led by its founding President-General, Obong Samson Udo Etuk, a former education officer, initiated a scholarship scheme that saw Ibibio scholars sent abroad for further study.
The scholars were: Bassey Udo Adiaha Attah (Agriculture); Obot Antia Obong (Medicine); Ibanga Akpabio (Education); Asuquo Idiong (Medicine); Egbert Udo Udoma (Law) and, James Nsima (Education). The Union, which was outlawed by the military junta in 1966, was by far one of Nigeria’s most successful experiments in ethnic awakening, solidarity, and development.
9. Wellington Bassey, the first commissioned Officer of the Nigeria Army with Number: NA 1
Wellington Bassey, an Akwa Ibom native, was a pioneer in the Nigeria Army and had joined the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) Band Corps at the age of 25 in 1933, despite objections from his parents. He had served in the colonial Army as a warrant officer two, company sergeant major, and weapons teacher, and had done so well in the latter that he was assigned to train troops in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) from 1945 to 1949.
King George VI promoted Bassey to Second Lieutenant on April 30, 1949, making him the first regular West African commissioned officer with the service number WA1, after he had finished his officer training at Warwick, England. At independence in 1960, the Queen’s Own Regiment became the Nigerian Army, and Bassey was the first soldier from Nigeria. Before that, he had been an aide-de-camp (ADC) to Sir Stuart Macpherson, the Governor General of Nigeria.
Over 11 years, he held many command positions, including first Commanding Officer, Boys Company (now Nigerian Military School), Zaria; first Nigerian Commandant, Lagos Garrison, Apapa; first Commanding Officer, Federal Guards (now Brigade of Guards), Lagos; and Brigade Commander, First Brigade (now 1 Division), Kaduna.
10. Home to the Mysterious Green River
Tucked away in the tranquil bushes and sloppy sandy footpaths of Ikot Akpa, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, is a sparkling green river whose beauty is as creepy as it is awesome. The green river looks like something out of a dream – the calming atmosphere, the peaceful flow, and the soft-whizzing winds – all give it a sophisticated ambience that is both healing and nostalgic.
One of the mysteries of this river is that, while the water inside resembles an endless sheet of green silk, it is colourless when scooped into a glass and what’s more, the sand bank around and within it is white. You would instantly be mesmerised by the sight and sound that greet you as you approach the river. When you talk with the locals, they will tell you stories about how the river has always been there for them and how climate change has not seriously affected its appearance.
Those who have visited the green river can attest to the fact that it is not only a choice destination for tourists and writers alone; but also, a site that needs to be studied by experts, who may be able to discover hidden treasures within its boundaries.
Editor’s Note: There are more amazing things about Akwa Ibom than what we have indicated here. We, however, encourage our readers to share some of the amazing things they know about Akwa Ibom with us through our Public Interest Report platform. Any such content should be accompanied by good photographs taken by the authors. We will publish only the best entries.