Anambra State

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Anambra State
Anambra State Government House
Anambra State Government House
Flag of Anambra
Seal of Anambra State Government
Anthem: "With All Our Hearts, We Pray and Ask"
Location of Anambra in Nigeria
Location of Anambra in Nigeria
Coordinates: 6°20′N 7°00′E / 6.333°N 7.000°E / 6.333; 7.000Coordinates: 6°20′N 7°00′E / 6.333°N 7.000°E / 6.333; 7.000
Country Nigeria
 • BodyGovernment of Anambra State
 • GovernorCharles Chukwuma Soludo (APGA)
 • Deputy GovernorGilbert Onyekachukwu Ibezim (APGA)
 • LegislatureAnambra State House of Assembly
 • SenatorsC: Uche Ekwunife (PDP)
N: Stella Oduah (PDP)
S: Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP)
 • RepresentativesList
 • Total4,844 km2 (1,870 sq mi)
 • Rank35 of 36
 (2006 census)1
 • Total4,177,821
 • Estimate 
(2020 By ANSG)
 • Rank8 of 36
 • Density860/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
DemonymsNdi Anambra, Anambrarians
 • Year2007
 • Total$11.83 billion[1]
 • Per capita$1,615[1]
Time zoneUTC+01 (WAT)
postal code
Dialing Code+234
ISO 3166 codeNG-AN
HDI (2018)0.656[2]
medium · 3rd of 37
^1 Preliminary results

Anambra State is a Nigerian state, located in the southeastern region of the country.[3] The state was created on 27 August 1991.[4] Anambra state is bounded by Delta State to the west, Imo State to the south, Enugu State to the east and Kogi State to the north.[5]

According to the 2022 census report, there are over 9 million residents in the state.[6][citation needed] The state name was formed in 1976 from the former East Central State. The state is named after Omambala River, a river that runs through the state. Anambra is the Anglicized name of the Omambala.[7][8] The State capital is Awka, a rapidly growing city that increased in population from approximately 700,000 to more than 6 million between 2006 and 2020. The city of Onitsha, a historic port city from the pre-colonial era, remains an important centre of commerce within the state.[9]

Nicknamed the "Light of the Nation", Anambra State is the eighth most populous state[10] in the nation, although that has seriously been argued against as Onitsha, the state's biggest and most populous urban area was discovered to be over 8.5 million in population in 2020 by Africapolis which makes Onitsha the second largest urban area in Nigeria by population and third in Africa.[11] And also According to the 2019 Demographia world urban areas Onitsha is the 47th largest built-up urban areas in the world with more than 8 million populationsAnambra is a very populous state, despite being the second smallest in area.[12][13] The area currently known as Anambra State has been the site of numerous civilizations since at least the 9th century AD, including the ancient Kingdom of Nri, whose capital was the historic town of Igbo-Ukwu within the state. Residents of Anambra State are primarily Igbo,[14][15] with the Igbo language serving as a lingua franca throughout the state.[16]

During the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970), Anambra State was part of the secessionist Republic of Biafra formed by Igbo nationalists. During the war, Anambra State was afflicted by a severe famine, which devastated much of the population.[17][18] Today, Anambra State is a highly urbanized state,[19] and has made major strides in reducing its poverty rate.[20]


The name Anambra is the merging of Anam and branch. Anam is a clan in the Omambala region[21] and the last Igbo speaking community the British colonialists encountered while heading up to Northern Nigeria from across the riverine areas. They usually described present day Anambra as 'Anam branch' to their colleagues up North. Reason Anam together with some neighboring clans was Anambra LGA when the state was created. It is now Anambra-West LGA with Olumbanasa.


Anambra's history stretches to the 9th century AD, as revealed by archaeological excavations at Igbo-Ukwu and Ezira. It has great works of art in iron, bronze, copper, and pottery. These have revealed a sophisticated divine Kingship administrative system, which held sway in the area of Anambra from c. 948 AD to 1911. In some towns, such as Ogidi and others, local families had hereditary rights to kingship for centuries.[22][23]

Great Britain recognised some of these traditional kings and leaders in their system of indirect rule of the Protectorate of South Nigeria. Beginning in the 19th century, they appointed some noble leaders as Warrant Chiefs, authorizing them to collect taxes, among other duties.

Anambra is in the Igbo-dominated area that seceded as part of an independent Biafra in 1967, following rising tensions with Northern Nigeria. During the Nigerian/Biafran war (1967–1970), Biafran engineers constructed a relief airstrip in the town of Uli/Amorka (code named "Annabelle"). Extremely dangerous relief flights took off from Sao Tome and other sites loaded with tons of food and medicine for the distressed Biafran population. Uli/Amorka airstrip was the site where American pilots such as Alex Nicoll, and scores of others, delivered tons of relief supplies to the Biafran population.[24]

Disgusted by the suffering and mounting death toll in Biafra from starvation, as well as the continuous harassment of the relief planes by the Nigerian Airforce, Carl Gustaf von Rosen resigned as a Red Cross relief pilot. He helped Biafra to form an airforce of five Minicoin planes Malmö MFI-9 stationed at the Uga airstrip. He named his tiny but effective air force "Babies of Biafra" in honour of the babies who died from starvation inside Biafra.[25][26][27]

Old Anambra State was created in 1976 from part of East Central State, and its capital was Enugu. In 1991 a re-organisation divided Anambra into two states, Anambra and Enugu. The capital of Anambra is Awka.[28]


Cities and administrative divisions[edit]

With an annual population growth rate of 2.21 percent per annum, Anambra State has over 60% of its people living in urban areas. It is one of the most urbanized states in Nigeria.[citation needed]

Agulu Lake

The major urban centres of Anambra State are Onitsha, including Okpoko town, Ogbaru; Nnewi, and Awka, the state capital. Awka and Onitsha had developed as pre-colonial urban centres: Awka was the craft industrial centre of the Nri hegemony. Onitsha is a city state on the Niger, having developed as a river port and commercial centre.

Onitsha is a fast-growing commercial city, and has developed to become a huge conurbation extending to Idemili, Oyi and Anambra East LGAs, with one of the largest markets in West Africa.

In 2012 the tri-city area was dubbed the Onitsha-Nnewi-Awka (ONA) Industrial Axis, in recognition of the expanding industrial capacity. Nnewi (sometimes called the Taiwan of Nigeria)[29][30] is a rapidly developing industrial and commercial centre. Designated as the state capital, Awka has regained its precolonial administrative eminence.

Local government areas[edit]

Anambra State LGA Map alt text
Anambra State LGA map

Anambra State consists of 21 local government areas. They are:


Boundaries are formed by Delta State to the west, Imo State and Rivers State to the south, Enugu State to the east, and Kogi State to the north. The name was derived from the Anambra River (Omambala) which flows through the area and is a tributary of the River Niger.

Anambra is the eighth-most populated state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the second-most densely populated state in Nigeria after Lagos State. The stretch of more than 45 km between the towns of Oba and Amorka contains a cluster of numerous thickly populated villages and small towns, giving the area an estimated average density of 1,500–2,000 persons per square kilometre.[31]

IDP camps for flood victims[edit]

Many internally displaced persons (IDP) have been set up in different locations in Anambra State to accommodate the flood victims who fled their homes for safety. About 27 Internally Displaced Persons camps have been provided by Anambra State government while flood victims provided emergency camps for themselves when the official camps cannot accommodate them.[32]


Innoson Vehicles in Nnewi

Agriculture is an important economic sector in Anambra. Oil palms, maize, rice, yams and cassava are among the crops grown. Fishing is also part of the economic mainstay of Anambra State more especially for communities along the riverine areas.

Anambra houses the first Nigerian vehicle manufacturer, Innoson, an automobile manufacturer, located in Nnewi.[33][34][35]

People all over West Africa travel to Onitsha to trade, which boost the internal revenue of the state, making it one of the top commercial towns in Africa.[36][37]

Anambra is a home of innovation, inventions and creativity. There has been several innovations in Anambra, due to its appreciation of education, which has added to the state's GDP. One of those was in 2018, when two brothers, Atikpo Chukwuebuka and Ubaka Chukwuebuka, were the first to invent a machine, that could wash off the bitterness from bitter leaf (a highly nutritious vegetable).[38] This machine will greatly improve the productivity of vegetable farming in the state.

The export of agricultural items is a continual boost to Anambra Internal Generated Revenue, as in 2017, $5 million was generated from the export of washed bitter leaf.[38]

There is a huge deposit of oil and gas in Nigeria, with the Anambra Basin having a great potential of 1000 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves untapped. Having more than 13 oil wells situated in Anambra, Anambra state has the capacity to produce more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day, with indigenous companies like Orient Petroleum, and Sterling Oil Exploration and Production Co. LTD (SEEPCO), already leading the way.[39]

Natural resources[edit]

Anambra is rich in natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, and ceramic.[40] It has an almost 100 percent arable soil.

Anambra state has many other resources in terms of agro-based activities such as fisheries and farming, as well as land cultivated for pasturing and animal husbandry.

Oil and gas[edit]

In the year 2006, a foundation-laying ceremony for the first Nigerian private refinery, Orient Petroleum Refinery (OPR), was made at Aguleri area.[41] The Orient Petroleum Resource Ltd (OPRL), owner of OPR, was licensed in June 2002, by the Federal Government to construct a private refinery with a capacity of 55,000 barrels per day (~7,500 t/d).

In 2012, following the efforts of Governor Peter Obi and other stakeholders of Orient Petroleum, Anambra State became an oil-producing state. The indigenous company struck oil in the Anambra River basin.[42]

On 2 August 2015, the management of Orient Petroleum Resources Plc said the company planned to increase its crude oil production to 3,000 barrels per day by September 2015, as it stepped up production activities in two new oil wells in its Aguleri oil fields. An indigenous company, Nails and Stanley Ltd, was to establish a gas plant at Umueje in Ayamelum Local Government Area to support economic activities in the oil and gas industry in the state.[43]

Infrastructure and urbanization[edit]

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Awka-Etiti

Since the late 1990s, there has been a migration from rural to urban areas in the state, resulting in Anambra becoming a highly urbanized state: 62% of its population lives in urban areas. In October 2015, the APGA-led state government of Willie Obiano, signed a memorandum of understanding with Galway modular housing company, Affordable Building Concepts International, for 10,000 housing units to be built in the state.[44]

Given decades of neglect of infrastructure and bad governance, the shift in human migration has posed problems for the state. Infrastructure improvements, both physical and social, have lagged behind the growth in population. There are problems in environmental sanitation, erosion control, and provision of social services. Major cities have become characterized by inadequate and deteriorated road networks and walkways, unregulated building patterns, poor sanitation, uncontrolled street trading, mountains of garbage, and chaotic transport systems, creating congestion, noise pollution, and overcrowding.[45]

The government of Peter Obi, with the assistance of the UN-HABITAT, produced 20-year structural plans (2009–2028) for three major cities in the State: Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka – the Capital Territory, to restore urban planning and guide their growth into the future.

The plans contain policies and proposals for land use, city beautification, road infrastructure, industrial development, housing, waste disposal, water supply and health and educational facilities to turn the cities into successful urban areas that can generate employment and wealth, and provide high living standards for their residents.[46]

Anambra became the first state in Nigeria to adopt structural plans for its cities.[3] With effective implementation, it should systematically grow as a major economic center in Nigeria, and West Africa.

The process of urbanization is fairly contributed by population growth, immigration, migration, and infrastructure initiatives like good road, water, power, and gardens, resulting in the growth of villages into towns, town into cities and cities into metros. To have ecologically feasible development, planning requires an understanding of the growth dynamics. There is a fear that if too many people leave the villages, only the aged men and women will be left to farm. This pattern has been seen in Amesi, Akpo, and Achina towns in Aguata local government area. They have been important in the production of yam, cocoyam, and cassava through consistent agriculture, but such activities have suffered due to the out-migration of youth to the urban centres. There has been both food scarcity in the region and over-population in urban areas.

To upgrade the state capital and improve traffic, Awka, Governor Willie Obiano signed off on construction of three fly-overs between the Amawbia and Arroma end of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, a distance of about three kilometres within the city.[47] Now Anambra is fully set to complete and start operations in one the best airports in Nigeria, Anambra International Airport, Umueri.[48]


Anambra has good transport links to other states in the country. The Niger River connects Onitsha with the ports of Port Harcourt in Rivers State, and Bururu and Warri in Delta State. Nearing completion is the Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha.[49]

Nearly completed second Niger bridge at Onitsha

Culture and tourism[edit]

Ogbunike Caves, listed by UNESCO[50] as a World Heritage Site,[51] is one of the most visited tourist sites in Anambra State. It is classified as a sandstone cave (Lateritic sandstones of Campanian-Miocene age).[52] The Owerre Ezukala caves and waterfalls are great tourist attractions in the state.[53] Largely unexplored, the caves are said to be the largest in West Africa.[54][55]

The indigenous ethnic groups in Anambra state are the Igbo (99% of population) and small population of people who are bilingual, they live mainly in the north-western part of the state.[56]

Ornamental staff head in the form of a coiled snake, 9th-century bronze, Igbo-Ukwu

Igbo Ukwu Museum:[57] Igbo Ukwu is an ancient town known for its astonishing metal crafts; it continues to attract tourists to see its bronze artifacts. First noticed in 1938, the bronzes were later excavated by Thurstan Shaw (an English archaeologist). They have been dated to the 9th century, and are of high value and historic relevance.[58]

Anambra has diverse delicacies, ranging from spicy Chinese white soups to hamburgers, sharwarmas and onugbu soup, a famous dish from the state.[59][60]


The churches in Anambra State include Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal. The Catholic cathedral is the Cathedral Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, located at 13B New Nkisi Rd, GRA 434106, Onitsha. The Anglican Cathedral is All Saints Cathedral, GRA 434106, Onitsha.

Anambra State also has numerous Pentecostal churches like Assemblies of God Church,[61] Redeemed Church,[62] House on the Rock, Dominion City,[63] Dunamis, Winners' Chapel, and Christ Embassy.


Anambra is known to be leading in basic education in Nigeria, especially in science and technology. In 2018, five students from Regina Pacis Model secondary school,[64] Onitsha, won gold medals at the World Technovation Challenge, held in Silicon Valley, San Francisco.[65]

Public tertiary institutions[edit]

Private tertiary institutions[edit]

Madonna University, Anambra
Paul university, Anambra

Awka, the state capital, is also the center of Nigeria's metalwork and carving industries.

The literacy rate in the state is comparatively high compared to other states.[specify] Anambra State students have won laurels, nationally and internationally in recent times. This is a pointer to the literacy rate of the state, when compared to others.[84][85][86][87] Primary and secondary school enrollment in the state is one of the highest in the country.[88] Consequently, Anambra state has the highest number of JAMB candidates going after the limited number of spaces in Nigeria's tertiary colleges.[citation needed] From 2011/2012 to 2014, its students had the best results in both WAEC and NECO-conducted senior secondary school examinations.[89][90]

Anambra State has some of the best boarding and day secondary schools in Nigeria. The state places a high standard on secondary education.[91][92]


Anambra's political history can be described as varied. Until the early 21st century, it was marked by considerable unrest. Having a long list of "firsts" in Nigerian history, it has been known by the sobriquet as, "The Light of The Nation". On 29 May ,1999, Chinwoke Mbadinuju was sworn in as civilian governor of Anambra state, after many years of military rule. His administration was plagued by deep problems: the most notable was withholding of teachers' salaries in the school. The teachers finally conducted a ten-month strike in all the government secondary schools in the state.[93]

Before Mbadinuju's rule, secondary education had been free of charge. His administration imposed a tuition fee of 3,000 Naira per term, for all secondary schools, which led to an unprecedented massive demonstration by secondary school students from all over the state. Many people attribute Mbadinuju's failure to political godfathers; his successor also struggled. On 26 May 2003, Chris Ngige was sworn in as the new governor of the state, but he was removed in March 2006 after Peter Obi of APGA filed charges against him of electoral malpractice. The Court of Appeal in Enugu asserted that Ngige's apparent victory in the 2003 election was fraudulent and ordered him to leave the seat.[94]

Obi was ousted by a faction of the Anambra State House of Assembly on 2 November 2006 and replaced by Virginia Etiaba, his deputy.[95] On 9 February 2007, Etiaba handed power back to Obi after the Court of Appeal had nullified Obi's removal.[96]

On 14 April 2007, Andy Uba of PDP was "elected" as the new governor of the state and, on 29 May, was sworn in.[97] Reported to be massively rigged, the election was widely criticised. On 14 June 2007 the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that Peter Obi's tenure had not ended; therefore there was no vacancy in the governorship. It removed Andy Uba from office and replaced him with his predecessor Obi.[98]

On 6 February 2010, Peter Obi was re-elected governor for a second term of four years, after a hot contest with Chris Ngige, a former governor of the state; Prof. Charles Soludo, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; and Andy Uba, who was a strong voice in the state's politics.[99][100] Other contenders included Mrs Uche Ekwunife, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, and many others. Twenty-five contestants ran for the office. Obi was affirmed as the winner of the election, having more than 30% votes above the immediate runner-up. Chief Willie Obiano was sworn in on 17 March 2014 after winning the 16 November 2013 election. Governor Willie Obiano of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was sworn in for a second term in office on 17 March 2018 after the victory at 18 November 2017 elections .[101][102] He handed over to Charles Soludo, winner of the November 9, 2021 gubernatorial election in Anambra state on 17 March 2022.[103][104]

Notable people[edit]

Chinua Achebe alt text
Chinua Achebe
Chuba Okadigbo


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