Bayelsa is a state in the South South region of Nigeria, located in the core of the Niger Delta.[5][6] Bayelsa State was created in 1996 and was carved out from Rivers State,[7] making it one of the newest states in the federation.[8] The capital, Yenagoa, is susceptible to high risk of annual flooding.[9] It shares a boundary with Rivers State[7] to the east and Delta State to the north across the Niger River for 17 km and the Forçados River for 198 km, with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean[10] dominating its southern borders.[11][6] It has a total area of 10,773 square kilometres (4,159 sq mi).[citation needed] The state comprises eight local government areas: Ekeremor, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Yenagoa, Nembe, Ogbia, Sagbama, Brass and Southern Ijaw.[6] The state is the smallest in Nigeria by population as of the 2006 census.[12] Being in the Niger Delta, Bayelsa State has a riverine and estuarine setting, with bodies of water within the state preventing the development of significant road infrastructure.[13]

Flag of Bayelsa
Official seal of Bayelsa
Location of Bayelsa State in Nigeria
Location of Bayelsa State in Nigeria
Geopolitical ZoneSouth South
Created1 October 1996
 • BodyGovernment of Bayelsa State
 • GovernorDouye Diri (PDP)
 • Deputy GovernorLawrence Ewhrudjakpo (PDP)
 • LegislatureBayelsa State House of Assembly
 • SenatorsC: Moses Cleopas (PDP)
E : Benson Sunday Agadaga (PDP)
W: Henry Seriake Dickson (PDP)
 • RepresentativesList
 • Total10,773 km2 (4,159 sq mi)
 • Rank27th
 (2006 census)
 • Total1,704,515[1]
 • Estimate 
 Ranked 36th
 • Year2021
 • Total$29.97 billion[3]
9th of 36
 • Per capita$11,379[3]
2nd of 36
Dialing Code+234
ISO 3166 codeNG-BY
HDI (2021)0.651[4]
medium · 4th of 37

The languages of the Ijaw[14] are widely spoken in Bayelsa State, along with Isoko and Urhobo. The state is the primary home for the Ijaws, their ancestral home. The state is also the ancestral home of the Urhobo people in the Sagbama local government area.[15]

As a state in the oil-rich Niger Delta, Bayelsa State's economy is dominated by the petroleum industry.[16][17] The state is the site of Oloibiri Oilfield, where oil was first discovered in Nigeria,[18] and as of 2015 was estimated to produce 30-40% of the country's oil.[19] The state has the largest gas reservoir (18 trillion cubic feet) in Nigeria.[20] 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[21] stemming from oil spills.[22][23]



During the 20th century, demanding 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.[24][25][26] Bayelsa State was created out of Rivers State on 1 October 1996[27] 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).[28]

On 20 November 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.[29][30]

In response to environmental degradation in the state caused by the oil industry, movements such as the "Rise for Bayelsa[31]" campaign have emerged to push for protecting the local water supply.[32] In 2019, the Bayelsa State government launched the first formal inquiry into the crisis of oil pollution in the state.[33][34]



Bayelsa State has one of the largest crude oil and natural gas deposits in Nigeria.[35][36] As a result, petroleum production is substantial in the state. Even though 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".[37]



Bayelsa has a riverine and estuarine setting.[38] Many communities are almost (and in some cases) 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.[39]

Other important cities besides Yenagoa include Akassa, Lobia, Wilberforce Island (the location of the Bayelsa Airport), Amassoma and Ogobiri (the host communities of the Niger Delta University (NDU), Eniwari, Ekeremor, Aliebiri, Anyama-Ogbia, Anyama-Ijaw, 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.[40]



Bayelsa has a tropical monsoon climate with yearly temperature of 28.64 °C (83.55 °F) and it is -0.82% lower than Nigeria's averages. The state typically receives about 241.52 millimeters (9.51 inches) of precipitation and has 296.16 rainy days (81.14% of the time) annually.[41]

Bayelsa State has mostly received the effects of climate change due to environmental degradation and high level of carbon emissions.[42][43]

The Bayelsa region experiences tropical monsoon weather. All year long, there are high temperatures and a lot of rain. In Bayelsa, the average annual temperature is 56 degrees, and there are roughly 675 inches of rain each year. With an average humidity of 82% and a UV-index of 6, it is dry for 47 days out of the year.[44]

Environmental issues


Soot pollution


This is a black hazardous carbonate substance that pollutes the area due to its illegal burning of crude oil (locally called Kpo-fire).[45] This carcinogenic chemical causes illnesses such as lung cancer, skin irritation, allergies, respiratory tract infections, eye problem, etc. Its effect is also meted on the environment as it causes air pollution, soil pollution, water pollution which has led to the death of both plants, humans and animals.[46]



This is a common annual problem in Bayelsa because it is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The rise of seawater is the major cause. The flooding has affected many communities, properties and human lives.[47] Almost all areas in Bayelsa state are affected by flooding but Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma and Yenagoa areas of Bayelsa state are more prone to flooding as it affects these areas yearly.[48] Poor town planning is another major cause of flooding in Bayelsa State.[49]

As of August 2022, the state was stricken with a flood, displacing over 1.3 million people and destroying live stocks and properties.

Oil spillage


This is one of the major environmental issues in Bayelsa State due to the activities of major oil companies.[50] Oil spillage has affected farmlands, aquatic life and the health of the people.[51] Almost every day, Udengs Eradiri is informed of another oil spill in Bayelsa state, in the Niger Delta.

He said Bayelsa used to be green, you could go to a farm or go fishing and have a very impressive harvest. You would spend hours in the water and have a handful of fish. Today, he added, you can spend the whole day without catching a glimpse of a fish.[52]

Another major environmental issue in Bayelsa state is air pollution (SOOT). Today, many people in Bayelsa state lament that they cannot breathe due to the exposure of emissions of soot, a hazardous black amorphous carbon that has almost completely polluted the air in the areas.[45]

However, stakeholders in the affected areas had in 2018 reportedly initiated a campaign with the common refrain; "Save Rivers from this soot of death", in the Rivers state region.[52]

Natural resources


Bayelsa State's natural resources include:[53]

Mineral raw materials


Agro raw materials




The Catholic Church comprises parts of Bomadi Diocese (1991) [1] under Bishop Hyacinth Oroko Egbebo (2009) [2], a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Benin City.[citation needed]



Major roads include the Isaac Adaka Boro Expressway 17 km north from Yenagoa to join A2 the Elele-Alimini-Patani East-West Rd east to Rivers State at Mbiama and northwest across the Forçados River to Delta State by the 850 m bridge (2014) at Patani.

Waterways are essential for transport as many communities are not accessible by road.

Bayelsa Cargo Airport on Wilberforce Island opened 2019, with international flights approved 2021.[55]



The main language spoken is Ijaw with dialects such as Kolokuma, Nembe, Epie-Atissa, and Ogbia. Like the rest of Nigeria, English is the official language.

Languages of Bayelsa State listed by LGA:[56]

LGA Languages
Brass Abureni, Southeast Ijo, Ogbia, Kugbo
Ekeremor Izon
Kolokuma Opokuma Kolokuma
Nembe Abureni, Nembe, Ijaw
Ogbia Abureni, Southeast Ijo, Odual, Ogbia, Oruma
Sagbama Buseni, Isoko, Izon, Ogbah, Okodia, Urhobo
Southern Ijaw Southeast Ijo, Izon
Yenagoa Engenni, Epie-Atissa, Izon, Ekpeye

Notable people




Due to massive overseas scholarship programs implemented by the old Rivers State in the 1970s and recent Bayelsa State governments, large numbers of Bayelsa professionals reside in Europe and North America. This is part of the general brain-drain trend affecting many African communities.[citation needed]



The major tertiary institutions in Bayelsa state are:

Local Government Areas


Bayelsa State consists of eight[82] local government areas:



The state government is led by a democratically elected governor who works closely with members of the state House of Assembly. The Capital city of the state is Yenagoa.[83]

Electoral system


The electoral system of Bayelsa state is selected using a modified two-round system. To be elected in the first round, a candidate must receive the plurality of the vote and over 25% of the vote in at least two-thirds of the State's local government Areas. If no candidate passes the threshold, a second round will be held between the top candidate and the next candidate to have received a plurality of votes in the highest number of local government Areas.[83]


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4°45′N 6°05′E / 4.750°N 6.083°E / 4.750; 6.083