Ogba, also called the Ogbah, are indigenous Ogba-speaking people, situated in the extreme south-west of Egiland, in the modern Rivers State of Nigeria. The Ogba people comprise fourteen extended families divided into clans, and occupy an area of about 600 km² in the Niger flood plain.
Aligu-Alinso okanu is an Ogba clan. The Egi group comprises seventeen communities with a history of nature resources. A study conducted in Ogbogu located in one of the largest oil producing regions of Nigeria has utilized two plant species to clean up spills. The first stage of cleanup involves Hibiscus cannabinus.
Ali-Ogba speak the Ogba language, a dialect of the Igbo language, consisting of the Egi and Igburu Sections. They both speak one dialect with little difference with each other, having a combine population of about 280,000 people. It is located in the central Orashi-Sombreiro plains of Rivers State, Nigeria. It is one of the major producers of the CRUDE OIL that fuels Nigeria’s economic development in recent decades. According to current oil company records, no local government in Nigeria produces as much crude oil and gas as the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA) local government (Ellah 1995).
As a result of the oil industry, Ali-Ogba(Ogba Kingdom) has undergone significant political, social, economic and environmental changes during the past several decades. However, despite its image as one of the main contributors to the wealth of Nigeria, there is a lot of poverty in many communities resulting from unemployment, under-employment, low wage jobs and deterioration of the natural resource base.
At the same time that Ali-Ogba makes very significant contributions to the country’s economy, this oil producing area has remained economically marginalized and left in the backwaters of the country’s socio-economic and political development. This poses dilemmas for Ali-Ogba people. For example, while the oil industry in Ali-Ogba creates jobs and wealth, these benefits are not equally accessible to many Ogba people and many other Rivers state communities, compared to other Nigerians. This state of affairs in the oil producing communities of Rivers state prompted the Governor, Dr. Odili to speak out this past February urging oil firms to stop giving employment to non-natives at the expense of the indigenes of the areas of their operation. In the Governor’s own words:(Ellah 1995).
Ali-Ogba people have some socio-cultural and political legacies that reinforce their common origin and bind them together as a people with common heritage and destiny. These include: geographic location, migration routes, language and political structure.
Geographically, Ali-Ogba stretches from about 4 50 N to 5 30’N and extends from about 6 25 E to about 6 40’ E. Spatially, it covers an area of 920 km2 in the northern part of the Niger Delta region located within the River Niger flood plains.. It is bordered on the west by the Orashi River and on the east by the Sombreiro river. In addition to the main drainage systems, there are the Omoku river and many back swamps, cut offs and interconnecting streams which form a maze of drainage channels superimposed on the area. At the peak of the rainy season, these interconnected waterways are a prominent feature of the landscape.Its location in the Sombreiro-Warri deltaic plains, which consists of coastal plains sands and other tertiary deposits – marine, mixed, and continental deposits typical of deltaic environments situates it in the rain forest zone of southern Nigeria. The area can be divided into four ecological zones:
The Sombreiro river plains (eastwards)
The Orashi River flood plains (westwards)
The central well drained lowlands and farm mosaic (between the Orashi and Sombreiro rivers
The non-tidal freshwater swamps basin.
The highest part of Ali-Ogba is the well drained lowland and farm mosaic with altitude ranging from 15m to 22 m. In general, the land is characterized by a gentle sloping topography of less than 10 degrees in many areas. This relatively low altitude gives the area its characteristics flat and monotonous low relief interspersed by many wetland (swamp /creek basins), which crisscross the central low lands and empty into the two main river systems (Sombreiro and Orashi)(Ellah 1995)
As a result of its geographic location, Ali-Ogba enjoys all year round high temperatures averaging 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day with over night lows ranging from 65 to 70 degrees. Also, the area has at least ten months of rainfall totaling over 80 inches per year with very high humidity in the summer months. The climatic conditions and topography support a wide variety of plant and animal life. The flora consists of economic trees especially oil palm trees and a variety of plants species of great pharmacological value as human elixir.(Ellah 1995)
Legends of origin
Oral history and folklore have it that Ali-Ogba people migrated to what is now called Ali-Ogba from the area of the then Benin Empire across the Niger about the 16th century.(Ellah 1995)
The Economy of Ali-Ogba
The physical landscape of Ali-Ogba presents a variety of natural resources: relatively well-drained land and rich soils in many areas, fresh water rivers, creeks and wetlands, secondary forests and abundant sunshine and rainfall all year round. Underneath the earth surface are pools of natural gas and oil.(Ellah 1995)
As a result of these endowments, the natural environment supports an agricultural economy based on fishing and farming for production of a wide variety of crops such as cassava, yam, maize, coco-yam, plantain and banana, including many vegetables such as okra, pepper and different types of melon. In addition, fruit trees such as paw-paw (papaya) oranges, guava, mango and pineapples are widely grown in gardens around buildings in the communities. Thus, in many respects, Ali-Ogba mirrors other upland communities of Rivers state in the production of a variety of agricultural products.
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