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Background to the Study

The term, development remained a phenomenon that has been a subject to series of debates by experts due to its economic, sociological, and political dimensions.1 Although, there is an emerging consensus that development is critically important to all nations of the world. However, there emerged a considerable confusion over what development actually is; in general terms, development is likened to an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation or the process of change per se.2 If not qualified, development is implicitly intended as something positive or desirable. When referring to a society or to a socio-economic system, development usually means improvement, either in the general situation of the system, or in some of its constituent elements. Development may occur due to some deliberate action carried out by single agents or by some authority so as to achieve improvement, to favourable circumstances in both. Development is a multi-dimensional concept in its nature, because any improvement of complex systems, as indeed actual socio-economic systems are, can occur in different parts or ways, at different speeds and driven by different forces.3 Additionally, the development of one part of the system may be detrimental to the development of other parts, giving rise to conflicting objectives and conflicts. Consequently, measuring development, i.e. determining whether and to what extent a system is developing, is an intrinsically multidimensional exercise.4Moreover, with the right support, a state, entity or industry can become an important element of sustainable development. Between 1950 to 1975, the world’s development rate increased from under thirty percent to over forty-five percent.5 In countries such as China and South Korea, development accompanied income growth. Following a familiar historic pattern, more surprising fact is that, there are many countries including Pakistan, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which significant urbanization occurred but could rarely account for visible development.

Conversely, major urban centres have areas with number of residents of a particular ethnic or cultural group. Sometimes referred to as ethnic neighbourhoods, these places often reflect the cultures, foods, institutions and entertainment of the people who live there. For instance, a number of Canadian cities have a Chinatown, a Little Italy and other cultural-based communities that reflect our multicultural population.6 These towns contribute significantly to the development of these societies. The point is that, the significant impact of mass migration had their landmark on the developmental progress of every society. Rapid development, therefore, is not a natural phenomenon in all developed, developing and under-developed countries as development had given rise to mega cities and urban centres.7 It should be noted that development entails social, economic, political and human development. Human development constitutes the foundation on which these concepts are based. According to Burkey, economic and political development must translate into social development.8 As a broad concept, development has been extensively explored with a view to realise economic growth and social development. Development was very rarely considered to be a “god-given” condition of socioeconomic systems, implying that policy makers at national and international level have always thought that some activities were required to promote positive changes.9

Although much of our knowledge about development is still imperfect, in the past 35 years a great deal of work has been carried out on cities and metropolitan areas in both developed and developing countries with market-oriented economies. The difficulty of development arises due to various factors such as the complexity in development, its multidimensional nature, the diversity of countries and country experiences; the different overlapping thoughts and related actions carried out at national, regional and international level. Also the analytical difficulties in identifying cause-effect relationships between development policies and results achieved.10Development has often been couched in terms of material things, rather than people, in terms of creation rather than revolution. It is also clear that development does not start with goals and things; it starts with people. This inplies that man is the beneficiary of development efforts. There are some other scholars who argue that development is not merely the construction of bridges and sky-scrapers in the major cities by the application of foreign technology. It is also the development of indigenous skills to exploit local resources for a sustained development process.11 Okoye posit that,

Development should imply not simply an increase in the productive capacity or income which may mean just growth without development, but major transformations in the socio-economic structures whose inequalities and rigidities resulting from outmoded systems, have tended to inhibit all-sided and even development of many third world societies.12

 The point in essence is that development is as complex as life itself, and development is expressed in terms of growth of output. It’s a process of initiating societal change so as to improve the capability of the institution and values of community to meet the increasing and various social, cultural, political, economic and technological demands of its people.13Development can be seen as a path of societal evolution that combines structural changes with improvement in people's welfare.

In view of the foregoing analysis, it can be deduced, that development is for people, and not people for development. For any development effort to succeed it has to be people oriented and focused. True development must mean the development of man, the unfolding and realization of his creative potential enabling him to improve his material conditions and living, through the use of resources available to him.14Development is the moving force behind the socio-economic transformation of society. In other words, when the emphasis on development is on things, all human resources remain latent. Thus, even though there are different perspectives to development, there is a general consensus that development leads to change manifested in increasing capacity of people to have control over material assets, intellectual resources and ideology, and obtain physical necessities of life (food, clothing and shelter), employment, equality, participation in government, political and economic independence, adequate education, gender equality, sustainable development and peace.15 Development theories do not provide a comprehensive explanation of development. For example, development does not refer to one particular perspective on social, political and economic betterment. Instead, it is a hybrid term for a myriad of strategies adopted for socio-economic and environment transformation from current states to desired ones. It cannot be overemphasised that development has various meanings to different people and can be explained in different contexts. For example, the development needs of a starving population must be different from those where there is sufficient nutrition. The present day situation in which the highest level of development is found in those parts of the world where industrialization has reached an advanced stage may appear to confirm this view. Another school of thought in terms of development theories are the non-economic factors as determinants of development. According to Bogue in the book titled Internal Migration, posited that determinants like marriages, graduation from school, employment opportunities, military service, political oppressions, community disaster and several others serves as factors as to why people leave or move into areas thereby leading to the development of the new area.16

Put differently, it is a truism that, Development in Nigeria predates the colonial era, however, the British colonial activities led to the expansion and emergence of more developed urban centres. After Nigeria’s Independence in 1960, Nigeria witnessed the development or rather transformation of hitherto rural areas into more urban centres. For instance, the 1970s oil boom and the operation of ports in some parts of the country, accompanied with physical developments, led to a massive movement of populace from the countryside to the cities. This came with its attendant challenges and various problems which began to emerge in cities like crimes, unemployment, insecurity, poverty and slums among other problems. Extensive development being a feature of the 19th and 20th centuries, with concentration of economic and administrative decision-making in Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Jos, and Enugu, and high degree of specialization and larger population associated with greater specialization of goods and services.17

Available statistics show that more than half of the world’s 6.6 billion people live in urban areas, crowded into 3 percent of the earth’s land area.18 The proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas, which was less than 5 percent in 1800 increased to 47 percent in 2000 and is expected to reach 65 percent in 2030.19 Projections suggest that the number of people living in Nigerian developed urban centres will reach 100 million by 2020. Although the urban population growth rate declined from 5.7% in 1985 to the rate of 4.0% in 199420 but the rate increased to 5.8% in 2004.21 This process, no doubt, comes with consequences on urban development. It is important to note that urban development is an essential ingredient to economic development, modernization, physical development, human resources development and all forms of societal growth.22 However, on the other hand, the development of urban cities in Nigeria has brought enormous problems including environmental problems, slum development, high flood incidence, high social crimes, poverty, pollution, traffic congestion and squatter settlements inter alia.23 The development of Umuahia started from the early days of the British presence when Umuahia was declared British protectorates as well as divisional headquarter. In the post colonial era, Ibeku-Umuahia was made the headquarters of Umuahia in the 1960s.24 Umuahia therefore, became an urban centre long before 1991. This development impacted on Umuahia in many ways as the town grew and developed rapidly in socio-economic and political spheres. Umuahia is a town, composed of five clans which have their individual origin and settlement history. It comprises two local government areas; Umuahia North and Umuahia South. These local government areas are also composed of five clans mentioned above. They are Umuokpara, Ibeku, Olokoro, Ubakala, and Ohuhu communities. Umuahia town is traditionally owned by the Ibeku by reason of patriarchy and was established through the British colonial administration of Nigeria in the early 20th century.25 Umuahia was declared the second capital of the short-lived nation of the Republic of Biafra on 28th September 1967 after the first capital Enugu was captured by Nigerian troops. After Umuahia’s capture on 24th December 1969, Owerri became the last Biafran capital before the end of the Civil War,26 on January 11th, 1970.

The federal government recommended that the area within a radius of 10 kilometers of the clock-tower in Umuahia should be designated the Umuahia Capital Territory. The territory is bounded in the west by the Imo River at Ekenobizi, Otoko, Umuopara; in the south by Amizi, Ikputu in Isiala Ngwa, in the east by Amaeke River in Bende and in the north by Umule in Umuahia and Lodu in Bende. This area, covering approximately 30,000 hectares provides adequate land for the envisaged growth of the capital territory.27 The assumption of the status of state capital has transformed Umuahia into a city and as such; Umuahia has become a seat of government, an academic centre and gradually becoming a commercial centre. The status has increased the social life of Umuahia people and the population of Umuahia, as well as the economic and religious life. Umuahia North has an area of 245km2 and the population of 220,660, while Umuahia South has an area of 140km2 and the population of 138,570.28 The tremendous increase in population has served as the source for the massive development. Thus, different people have come into Umuahia with various trades and skills, creating more goods and services for the community, for the greater quantity of goods and services were based on greater skills and human inventiveness. The urbanization of Umuahia came with challenges as well. It is against this backdrop that this research examined the History of Umuahia Metropolis from 1960 to 1975.

Statement of the Research Problem

Development has been an area of continuous studies in the academic field. The reason for this is because Development itself is dynamic as there is no single solution to the challenges that comes with it even though it aided development and economic growth. Thus, calls for continued research on the subject matter. The subject of development has also attracted governmental attention and concern. Hence, governments and even some nations of the world have tied it to aspects of their national development plan.

It must be stated that many works have been written on Nigerian urban history, yet not all these works are on Umuahia. Even where they exist, they tend to focus on a sociological approach with emphasis on crime rate as well as push and pull factors of migration.  Factors such as the social, economic and political development of the area are often ignored. Such works also do not take into cognizance pre colonial, colonial and post colonial considerations that necessitated the development of Umuahia. It was as a result of these factors Umuahia became a choice place as a state capital of Abia; a history that has not been documented yet. This work narrows the gap and contributes to the body of knowledge on the subject matter.  The study analyses the Development of Umuahia Metropolis from 1960 to 1975 in historical perspective in an attempt to narrow the gap in knowledge that exists in the study area.

Aim and Objectives of the Study

This study focuses on the development of Umuahia Metropolis from 1960 to 1975.

The objectives of the study include:

·         To delineate Umuahia metropolis.

·         To historicize the development of Umuahia from 1960 to 1975.

·         To examine the factors that necessitated the development of Umuahia, starting from the pre colonial, colonial and the post colonial era.

·         To analyze the socio economic and political developments in the area since assumption of the status as state capital.

·         To examine the inter group relations in Umuahia, with emphasis on the period from 1960 to 1975.

·         To identify and examine the challenges that came with the development of the study area as well as inter and intra group relations.

·         To assess the impact of development on the society and economy of Umuahia.

Scope and Limitations of Study

The scope of this work spans from 1960 to 1975. The year 1960 marked a watershed in the history of Nigeria. It was during this period Nigeria as a country gained independence from her colonial overlord, Britain. On 1 October 1960, the country came under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary government and a substantial measure of self-government for the country’s three regions. This paved way for development of economy and cities along regional lines based on regional revenues and industrial development.

The terminal year of this study is 1975. This period marked the post Nigerian civil war administrative years under General Yakubu Gowon. The year 1975 witnessed the massive migration of enormous number of the Igbo from the remote communities down to Umuahia and who mostly came as destitutes. These people came and established business activities and with the enormous success they gained from it attracted other people to also settle in Umuahia. Coupled with this was the large amount of revenue that were derived from the sale of petroleum were used to embark on massive construction of the urban centers which served as the main administrative sector consequently petro-dollars fuelled massive development of industries and mass importation of food as well as industrial raw materials from the rural areas for the industries that sprang up all over Umuahia.

The Adebo interim wage and salary award of 1970, the Udoji wage and salary award of 1974 tend to be inflationary and also widens rural-urban wage differential. The effect of this was that the working population in the rural areas no longer found agricultural activities lucrative, jobs could be found majorly in the urban centres in which Umuahia tended to be prominent. The geographical scope of this work is centered on Umuahia. Umuahia is an area that has been neglected by scholars at least in the area of urban history.

One of the limitations of this work is the paucity of source materials on the subject area. There is also the language barrier and the integrity of sources collected. This is because the services of an interpreter are employed for this research work. The geographical location of the subject matter is also a factor. Although, Umuahia, is located in South East Nigeria and it’s a familiar terrain. That makes it easier to overcome the challenges of language barrier in the course of interviews to a large extent, except in cases where the interviewees earmarked are settlers like the Hausa/Fulani communities who are involved in the development process of Umuahia but are not literate in English and Igbo languages. Even when such challenges are encountered, the services of interpreters are employed.

There is the issue of reliable data which pose a limitation to this research. While the text books sources may be found, statements and declarations of policy-makers and governments at the local, state and federal levels may be buried in heaps of journals, magazines and newspapers. Inquiries for such sources are most times marred with suspicion and misgiving as respondents are either uncooperative or unduly expectant, leading to insufficient or unreliable response. Archival records which serve as important reference material to research of this nature although challenging to access since must times, attendants at the National Archives give excuses for their inability, yet assist tremendously to produce certain documents. In spite of these seeming limitations, the research make use of all available sources to overcome these challenges in order to produce a well researched and objective growth and development of Umuahia.

Justification of the Study

The research addresses the challenges that are often associated with development with special reference and attention to Umuahia. This research is intended to be of relevance to policy makers and administrators at the local, state and federal level in addressing the challenges of development. This is because it deals with the pertinent issues that have affected urban centres in Nigeria and even elsewhere. Apart from contributing to knowledge, it will serve as a guide to other scholars who may be interested in assessing the Development of Umuahia Metropolis from 1960 to 1975. This study will also serve as a reference material together with other references for further studies in documenting the development and growth of Umuahia. The international recognition of this research work is that the entire world sees Umuahia as the capital of the deformed country Biafra. Hence, it makes Umuahia an interesting place for international study, and as a capital it has international recognition and dimension. That is why it is very important to study it from the time of independence to the end of an era of the civil war 1975. This work will serve as a reference material for international scholars embarking on academic research concerning Umuahia during the civil war, at the international level.

Research Methodology

Methodology guides the historian in his collection and analyzing his data. Methodology cannot be overemphasized because every piece of historical writing is a product of perspective and methodology. In other words, it is a guideline which assists the historian to avoid pitfall in his attempt to move from evidence to statement. However, methodology in history can be referred to as the science of writing history; the historian’s craft.

The research work adopts a narrative and chronological approach which encompasses the collection and analysis of primary and secondary source materials on the subject matter. Primary data was used and this was obtained through oral interviews. These oral interviews required the use of a tape recorder along with a handset and a hardcover notebook for the purposes of data collection. Primary data were also gathered from government intelligence report and other archival sources in the area of study.

The secondary sources used in the thesis includes data collected from libraries of institutions, National Archives, Enugu, relevant documents, Newspapers and Magazines, books, journals, internet sources and other relevant materials. The data collected for the study was collated and the findings presented using the descriptive and analytical approach with the hope that this work would meet the standards of scholarly and academic research. 

Clarification of Concepts

This research proceeds to make conceptual analysis of key terms in this work. These terms include; Urbanization, Development and Growth. The aim of shedding more light on the above key terms is to give a clearer understanding and to guide the research.


 Urbanization is not merely a modern phenomenon, but a rapid and historic transformation of human social roots on a global scale, whereby predominantly rural culture is being rapidly replaced by predominantly urban culture. The first major change in settlement patterns was the accumulation of hunter-gatherers into villages many thousand years ago. Village culture is characterized by common bloodlines, intimate relationships, and communal behavior whereas urban culture is characterized by distant bloodlines, unfamiliar relations, and competitive behavior. Urbanization is a population shift from rural to urban areas, the gradual increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas, and the ways in which each society adapts to the change. It is predominantly the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more people begin living and working in central areas.

According to A. Mabogunje, urbanization is the process of human agglomerations in multifunctional settlements of relatively substantial size.29 It represents the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas with population growth equating to urban migration.26 The United Nations Habitat in 2006 described urbanization as the increased concentration of people in cities rather than in rural areas.30 Urbanization contributes to sustained economic growth which is critical to poverty reduction.31 The process of urbanization also involves the improvement of urban quality including renewing the city, optimizing urban spatial organization and improving urban function. The way it is managed and administered has a direct bearing on its ability to support economic development, social development, health systems and mitigate poverty.32

In a more historical treatment, and more appropriate for this research, Landes situates urbanization as an essential ingredient in modernization and posits that:

Industrialization . . . is at the heart of a larger, more complex process often designated as modernization. Modernization comprises such developments as urbanization. . . ; the so-called demographic transition; the establishment of an effective, fairly centralized bureaucratic government; the creation of an educational system capable of training and socializing the children of a society . . . ; and of course, the acquisition of the ability and means to use an up-to-date technology.33


Development as a word has been defined in various ways by various scholars. Some scholars see it as a process and some see it as a state while some see it as both process and state.34 It then means that the development in human society is a multisided process. Walter Rodney in trying to define development did that in terms of the relations of men in society, that is, the level of individual. According to him, development implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being.35 This means that the achievement in personal development is very much tied in with the state of the society as a whole. Goulet refers development as a process, a particular kind of social change.36 Friedman suggests development as an evolutionary process, it has positive connotation and of course development is always of something a particular human being, society, a nation, an economy, etc… it is often associated with words such as under, over, or balanced…37 Development can also be defined as an act of improvising by expanding or enlarging.38 Hence, the later form of development best suit the topic of my research work.


Growth could be likened to development; it is a progression from simpler to more complex form, an increase or expansion. It is a process of becoming more numerous and or more important. Growth is an increase in capital value of asset. It is also the development of the entire organization to a higher state of being.39

In other words, urbanization, growth and development go together. It is difficult for any society to reach middle income status without a significant population shift into cities. Urbanization is necessary to sustain (though not necessarily drive) growth and development in developing countries like Nigeria, and it yields other benefits as well. It is against this background that this research has examined the above concepts of urbanization, growth and development in view of the focus of this subject matter.


This chapter introduced Decvelopment, as well as highlighted the historical perspective to the development process in Umuahia, the location of Umuahia, its people, was also pointed out. The statement of the research problem that gave necessity to the research has been identified. The aim and objectives of the research have also been pointed out and the research is justified by exposing the gaps left in previous literatures. The scope of the study has also been pinpoint as well as the limitations. Methodology and sources of data collection and conceptual clarification made up this chapter. To a very large extent, this chapter has shown explicitly that the title of this study is quite researchable.


1.      I. Adelman, I., and C.T. Morris,  Society, Politics and Economic Development. A Quantitative Approach, Hopkins Press, 1967, p. 6.

2.      P. Aghion, P. Bolton, “A Theory of Trickle-down Growth and Development”, The Review of Economic Studies, vol. 64, Issue 2, 1997, p. 151.

3.      O.E. Aluko, “The Impact of Urbanization on Housing Development: The Lagos Experience, Nigeria”, The Ethiopian Journal of Environment Studies and Management, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2012, p. 67.

4.      G. Mc Granahan and D. Scatterthwaite, Urbanisation Concept and Trends, London: HED Working Paper, 2014, p. 4.

5.      Edward L. Glaeser, A World of Cities: The Causes and Consequences of Urbanization in Poorer Countries, Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research Publications, 2013, pp. 1-3.

6.      Johnston and Williamson, Urbanization, Retrieved from www.edu.gov.mb.ca/../tn-40.pdf, Accessed on 24 March, 2019.

7.      A.L. Mabogunje, Urbanisation in Nigeria, London: University of London Press, 1968, p. 47.

8.      Stig Enemark, Rapid Urbanisation and Mega Cities: The Need for Spatial Information Management, Copenhagen: FIG Publication, 2010, p. 49.

9.      O.J. Fapohunda, The Informal Sector of Lagos State: An Inquiry into Urban Poverty and Employment, Ibadan: University Press Limited, 1985, p. 4.

10.  O.E. Aluko, “The Impact of Urbanization…

11.  A.L. Mabogunje, Urbanisation

12.  M. Okoye, “Even Development: Problems and Solutions”, In E.J. Nwosu (ed.), Achieving Even Development in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects, Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd, 1985, p. 121.

13.  E.H. Ravestine, “The Laws of Migration, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 48, No. 4, 1995, p. 15.

14.  Ibid.

15.  O. Oyewale Idowu, “Challenges of Urbanization and Urban Growth in Nigeria”, American Journal of Sustainable Cities and Society, Issue 2, Vol. 1 Jan- Dec 2013, http://www.rspublication.com/ajscs/ajsas.html ISSN 2319 – 7277, p. 79. See also, T. Angotti, “Metropolis 2000: Planning, Poverty and Politics”, London: Routledge, 1993.

16.  Bogues J. Donald, “Internal Migration”, in P. Hausen and O. Dudley (eds.), The Study of Population: An Intervention and Appraisal, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959, p. 90.

17.  United Nations, Human Development Report, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 23.

18.  Onokerhoraye and Omuta, “Urban systems and planning for Africa” Benin Social Science Series for Africa, University of Benin, Benin City: Nigeria, 1994, p. 92.

19.  T. Agbola, Readings in Urban and Regional Planning, Ibadan: Macmillan Nigeria Limited, 2004, p. 179.

20.  J.A. Arthur, “International Labour Migration Patterns in West Africa”, African Studies Review, Vol. 34, No. 3, 1991, pp. 65–88; C. Kessides, “The Urban Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Implications for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction” Urban Development Unit, The World Bank, 2005.

21.  A.O. Olotuah,  and O.S. Adesiji, “Housing Poverty, Slum Formation and Deviant Behaviour” Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria and 61 Glimpsing Green, Erith Kent, DA 18 4HB London, 2005; L.A. Jinadu  and V.A. Isumonah, “Environmental Challenges of Urbanization in Africa” Prepared for presentation at the International Congress on Environmental Planning and Management, at the Universidade Catolica de Brasilia, Brazil, 2005; O.E. Aluko, “The Impact of Urbanization on Housing Development: The Lagos Experience, Nigeria” Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management Vol. 3, No. 3, 2010; M.A. Adetunji and O.I. Oyeleye, “Evaluation of the Causes and Effects of Flood in Apete, Ido Local Government Area, Oyo State, Nigeria” Journal of Civil and Environmental Research, Vol. 3, No. 7,New York, 2013 p.19.

22.  Ibid., p. 25.

23.  Johnson Uzoha Asiegbu, The Umuahia People and their Neighbours, Canada: Nelson Pitman Limited, 1987, p. 1.

24.  Ibid., p. 10.

25.  Alexander A. Madiebo, The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War, Enugu, Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1980, p. 314.

26.  Abia State Development Committee, Blue-Print for the Present and Future Development of Abia State, Umuahia,

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