Umuahia (pronounced [ʊmʊaːhiaː]) is the capital city of Abia State in southeastern Nigeria. Umuahia is located along the rail road that lies between Port Harcourt to Umuahia's south and Enugu city to its north. Umuahia has a population of 359,230 according to the 2006 Nigerian census. Umuahia's indigenous ethnic group are the Igbo.
Top left: Abia tower. Mid Left: Umuahia Clock Tower. Bottom Left: Federal High Court, Umuahia.
Center: BCA Radio Tower.
Top Right: Star Beer sponsored welcome Billboard. Mid Right: Umuahia Market. Bottom Right: Umuahia Police Station.
|LGA||Umuahia North, Umuahia South|
|Time zone||WAT (UTC+1)|
Umuahia is well known as being an agricultural market center since 1916. It is also a railway collecting point for crops such as yams, cassava, corn (maize), taro, citrus fruits, and palm oil and kernels. There are several breweries in Umuahia, and there is also a palm-oil-processing plant. Nigeria's National Root Crops Research Institute, at Umudike, is adjacent to the town. Umuahia also has several colleges including Trinity College (theological) and several hospitals.
Umuahia comprises two local government areas: Umuahia North and Umuahia South. These local governments are also composed of clans such as the Umuopara, Ibeku, Olokoro, Ubakala and Ohuhu communities. Umuahia town is traditionally owned by the Ibeku after early British administrators based the town in their lands.
According to popular legend, the name Umuahia derives from the Igbo word OmaAhia or "Oma Ahia", which means "market place or market center", respectively. British colonists, who arrived the area and invaded it sometime around the mid-to late 19th century, upon learning the name, mispronounced and misspelled it as "Umuahia". Other legends exist regarding the origin of Umuahia, but the foregoing version seems most probable by consensus. In precolonial times, it served as one of the central marketplaces in the region for commerce. Given its serenity and proximity to other towns, such as Ohafia, Abiriba, Arochukwu, Obowo, Ngwa, Okigwi, Uzuakoli, Bende, Nnewi, Akwa Akpa (Old Calabar), and Kalabari, merchants of produce, pottery, crafts, textile, traditional medicine, palm wine, and tools travelled from afar to trade at the busy market center with many roads leading to it.
However, the name Ama Ahia was not the town's name; rather it was located in a place called Afor Ibeji near Olokoro Town. With increasing British administrative and commercial activities in the region and yonder, Umuahia, as it came to be known and written, was relocated to Ibeku Town for better oversight by administrative offices and the convergence of roads at Ibeku. The new location became one of the major trading posts along the rail route built by the United African Company (UAC) for carting produce, raw materials, and minerals along the trade route from Sub-Sahara to the Atlantic Ocean, for onward exportation to Europe. The trading post was named Umuahia-Ibeku Station to reflect the new market square and domain. Over time, the area became known as Umuahia, while the original market town at Afor Ibeji was renamed to Old Umuahia. The hyphenated Umuahia-Ibeku became a source of dispute, given that neighboring towns such as Ohuhu, Umuopara, Afugiri, Ofeme, etc., were constituted into the Umuahia administrative area, entitling them to be under Umuahia, not Umuahia - Ibeku, since Ibeku is on the same level as the constituent parts of Umuahia.
Umuahia is composed of five towns, each with its storied origin and evolution.
Umuahia was established by the British colonial administration of Nigeria in the early 20th century. Umuahia was declared the second capital of the short-lived nation of the Republic of Biafra on 28 September 1967 after the first capital, Enugu was captured by Nigerian troops. On June 28, 1968, Umuahia was captured by Nigerian troops during Operation OAU but was re-captured by Biafran troops on July 23 that same year. On April 22, 1969 Umuahia was occupied and nearly taken by Nigerian troops but they were forced to retreat due to a stiff offensive by Biafran Maj. E.A. Eutuk. After Umuahia's capture on 24 December 1969, the last Biafran capital before its dissolution became Owerri.
Formerly known as Ikwuano/Umuahia Local government council until the Babangida-led government divided it into two LGAs—Ikwuano LGA and Umuahia LGA in 1991—and then later in 1996, the former Umuahia Local Government Area was split by Abacha-led government into two local governments: Umuahia North and Umuahia South. The first executive chairman of the old Umuahia local government area is Chief Chibiko Ukanwoke, elected in December 1991.
Government college Umuahia and University of Agriculture, Umudike now fall into the domain of Ikwuano people.
- Summing the 2 LGAs Umuahia North/South as per:
Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette (15 May 2007). "Legal Notice on Publication of the Details of the Breakdown of the National and State Provisional Totals 2006 Census" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-01.
- "The 'Gate' of Umuahia". Vanguardngr.com. Vanguard Media. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
- "The latitude and longitude gps coordinates of Umuahia (Nigeria)". The GPS Coordinates.net. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
- "ABIA State of Nigeria". USAfricaonline.com. Retrieved 2014-03-30.