Smoke from oil flare, Nembe Creek
Location of Bayelsa State in Nigeria
|Geopolitical Zone||South South|
|Created||1 October 1996|
|• Governor||Douye Diri (PDP)|
|• Deputy Governor||Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo|
|• Total||10,773 km2 (4,159 sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||NG-BY|
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Bayelsa is a southern state in Nigeria, located in the core of the Niger Delta region. Bayelsa State was formed in 1996 from Rivers State, making it one of the newest states in the federation. The name of the state, Bayelsa, is a combination of the first few letters of the major local government areas within its confines: Brass LGA (BALGA), Yenagoa LGA (YELGA), and Sagbama LGA (SALGA). The state borders Rivers State, of which it was formerly part, and Delta State.
Bayelsa is predominantly Ijaw, with the Ijaw languages being widely spoken within the state. The state is the smallest in Nigeria by population as of the 2006 census, as well as one of the smallest by area. Being in the Niger Delta region, Bayelsa State has a riverine and estuarine setting, with bodies of water within the state preventing the development of significant road infrastructure.
As a state in the oil-rich Niger Delta, the Bayelsa State's economy is dominated by the petroleum industry. The state is the site of Oloibiri Oilfield, where oil was first discovered in Nigeria, and as of 2015 was estimated to produce 30-40% of the country's oil. Though being the site of one of the largest crude oil and natural gas deposits in the country contributes to local economic development, the state remains plagued by rampant poverty as well as pollution stemming from oil spills.
During the 20th century, demands for a new, majority-Ijaw state to be drawn in the Niger Delta Region became common. Between 1941 and 1956, numerous Ijaw nationalist organizations supportive of an Ijaw-majority state in Southern Nigeria were founded. Isaac Adaka Boro, a prominent Ijaw rights activist during the 1960s who was born in Oloibiri, attempted to proclaim a "Niger Delta Peoples Republic" in 1966.
Bayelsa State was created out of Rivers State on October 1, 1996 by the Sani Abacha's military government. Its name was derived from the first few letters of the names of the major local government areas from which it was formed: Brass LGA (BALGA), Yenagoa LGA (YELGA) and Sagbama LGA (SALGA).
On November 20, 1999, the Nigerian military committed what is now referred to as the Odi massacre. The death toll remains disputed to this day, though Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, claims that nearly 2500 civilians were killed.
In response to environmental degradation in the state caused by the oil industry, movements such as the "Rise for Bayelsa" campaign have emerged to push for protecting the local water supply. In 2019, the Bayelsa State government launched the first formal inquiry into the crisis of oil pollution in the state.
Bayelsa State has one of the largest crude oil and natural gas deposits in Nigeria. As a result, petroleum production is extensive in the state. Despite the fact that Bayelsa State is well-endowed with natural resources, the state "enjoys very minimal dividends from its oil wealth due to the structural inequities in the national revenue allocation system in the practice of fiscal federalism in the country".
Bayelsa has a riverine and estuarine setting. Many communities are almost (and in some cases) completely surrounded by water, making them inaccessible by road. The state is home to the Edumanom Forest Reserve, in June 2008 the last known site for chimpanzees in the Niger Delta.
Other important cities besides Yenagoa include Akassa, Lobia, Amassoma (the home of the Niger Delta University), Eniwari, Ekeremor, Aliebiri, Peretoru, Twon-Brass, Egwema-Brass, Kaiama, Nembe, Odi, Ogbia, Okpoama, Brass, Oporoma, Korokorosei, Otuan, Koroama, Okolobiri, Obunagha, Ogboloma, Sagbama, Olugbobiri, Peremabiri, Ekowe, and Swali.
The Akassa Lighthouse has stood since 1910.
Languages of Bayelsa State listed by LGA:
|Brass||Abureni; Southeast Ijo; Ogbia; Kugbo|
|Nembe||Abureni; Southeast Ijo. Izon (Ijaw)|
|Ogbia||Abureni; Southeast Ijo; Odual; Ogbia; Oruma|
|Sagbama||Biseni; Isoko; Izon; Ogbah; Okodia; Urhobo|
|Southern Ijaw||Southeast Ijo; Izon|
|Yenagoa||Engenni; Epie; Izon; Ekpeye|
- Gabriel Okara, novelist and poet
- Ernest Ikoli, journalist and pre-independence freedom fighter
- Major Isaac Adaka Boro, Nigerian Civil War hero (Nigerian Army)
- Daniel Igali, Canadian Olympic gold medalist and world wrestling champion
- Alfred Diete-Spiff, former governor of Rivers State, HRM
- Edmund Daukoru, Nigerian Minister of State for Energy and was Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2006, HRM
- Melford Obiene Okilo, governor of Rivers State
- Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria
- Timipre Sylva, governor of Bayelsa state, current state Minister of Petroleum
- Timaya, musical artist
- Timi Dakolo, musical artist
- MC Aproko, stand-up comedian
- Samson Siasia, Super Eagles player and Coach
- Diezani Alison-Madueke, Minister of Solid Minerals, Transport and Petroleum resources
- Dan Etete Minister Minister Petroleum resources
- Finidi George, Super Eagles player
- Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture
- Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission
- Owoye Andrew Azazi, Chief of Army Staff (Nigeria), Chief of Defense Staff under President Olusegun Obasanjo and National Security Adviser under President Goodluck Jonathan.
- Patience Torlowei, fashion designer and artist
Due to massive overseas scholarship programs implemented by the old Rivers State in the 1970s and recent Bayelsa State governments, large numbers of Bayelsan professionals reside in Europe and North America. This is part of the general brain-drain trend affecting many African communities.
The major tertiary institutions in Bayelsa state are:
- Niger Delta University
- Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education
- College of Health Sciences
- School of Nursing
- Bayelsa State College of Arts and Science
- Bayelsa Medical University
- University of Africa
- Federal Polytechnic Ekeowe
- International Institute of Tourism and Hospitality
- Federal University Otuoke
Local Government Areas
Bayelsa State consists of eight local government areas:
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bayelsa State.|
- Bayelsa State Government Homepage
- Bayelsa State at OnlineNigeria.com
- Experience Bayelsa Arts and Culture / Visitors Guide
- Bayelsa Council for Arts & Culture
- Adaka Boro Centre
- Azaiki Public Library, Yenagoa