Imo lies in the South East of Nigeria with Owerri as its capital and largest city. Located in the south-eastern region of Nigeria, it occupies the area between the lower River Niger and the upper and middle Imo River. Imo State came into existence in 1976 along with other new states created under the leadership of the late military ruler of Nigeria, Murtala Muhammad, having been previously part of East-Central State. The state is named after the Imo River. Part of it was split off in 1991 as Abia State, and another part became Ebonyi State. Imo state was created at Ngwoma and the meetings for the state creation which began after the Nigerian Civil War ended in 1970 were chaired by Chief S. E. Onukogu. Imo State consists of twenty-seven (27) Local Government Areas.
Governor: Rochas Okorocha
Also Known As: Eastern Heartland
Official Website: www.imostate.gov.ng
Major Towns: Owerri, Orlu, Mbaise
Imo State is bordered by Abia State on the East, River Niger and Delta State to the West, Anambra State on the North and Rivers State to the South. The State lies within latitudes 4°45’N and 7°15’N, and longitude 6°50’E and 7°25’E with an area of around 5,100 sq km. Besides Owerri, Imo State’s major towns are Isu, Okigwe, Oguta, Orlu,Atta Ikeduru, Akokwa, Mbaise, Mbaitoli, Mbieri, Ohaji/Egbema, Orodo, Nkwerre, Ubulu, Ngor Okpala, Omuma, Mgbidi, Awo-Omamma, Izombe, Orsu, and Mbano.
The Orashi River has its source in Imo State. Imo River, being the major river in the State, drains through Abia State, where it is joined by Aba River from the North, and Akwa Ibom State into the Atlantic Ocean. There are Njaba River, Oguta Lake, Utu River and Awbana River in the State. Otamiri River and its 9.2 km length tributary, Nworie River flow in the State.There are other rivers and creeks in the state including Onas Creek in Ohaji/Egbema, Okitankwo River in Umudi, and Ohia and Efuru Rivers in Okigwe.
The state is over 4.8 million people and the population density varies from 230–1,400 people per square kilometre. Christianity is the predominant religion. In addition to English being official language, Imo state is a predominantly Igbo speaking state, with Igbo people constituting a majority of 98%.
The state is rich in natural resources including crude oil, natural gas, lead and zinc. Economically exploitable flora including iroko, mahogany, obeche, bamboo, rubber tree and oil palm predominate. Other natural resources found in the State are white clay, fine sand and limestone.
There are over 163 oil wells at over 12 different locations in the State. The main petroleum companies operating in the state are Addax Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell and Agip. Some of the established oil-rich and producing Local Government Councils include Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Oru East, Iho, Oru West, Obowo and Ngor Okpala.
Many trade and investment opportunities abound in the peaceful State including Oil and Gas Exploration, Chemical Plants, Brewery Plants, Hydroelectricity and Gas-Fired Power Plants, Grain Milling, Starch Production, Cashew Product Industry, Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate Production, Integrated Multi-Oil Seeds Processing Plant, Ceramic Industry, Inland Waterway Transport, Integrated Palm Produce Industry et al. In addition to presence of oil and gas investors, independent global brewer, Heineken through its subsidiary Nigerian Breweries has significant investment in Imo State. The company manages the world-class Awo-omamma Brewery, a multiple-line brewery plant.
Many more opportunities in oil and gas are yet to be fully exploited. The Federal Government has been called to inspect newly discovered oil-rich council areas for possible exploration in order to increase the presence of the federal government in the State and the region, which would enable economic development and job creation. Establishment of industrial parks and processing zones to harness the huge agricultural produce and minerals would give a major boost to the State’s economic growth and industrialization. No doubt, production centers would employ large number of labor.
Oguta Lake, Palm Beach Holiday Resort in Awo-omamma and a host of other tourist sites along the banks of the 26 km-length Njaba River present hotspots for tourism. The economy of the State depends primarily on agriculture and commerce. The chief occupation of the people is farming. However, with a high population density and over farming the soil has been degraded and much of the native vegetation has disappeared. Their cash crops include oil palm, raffia palm, rice, groundnut, melon, cotton, cocoa, rubber, maize, etc. food crops such as yam, cassava, cocoyam and maize are also produced in large quantities.
There are several institutions of higher learning including state and federal government run institutions. They are as follows: Imo State University; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; Federal Polytechnic, Nekede; Eastern Palm University, Orlu; Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo; Alvan Ikoku College of Education; Technological Skills Acqisition Institute, Orlu.