Ikot Abasi, located in the south-west corner of Akwa Ibom, also called, Egwanga port town, is bounded by Oruk Anam Local Government Area in the north, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the south.
Ikot Abasi lies near the mouth of the Imo (Opobo) River. Situated at a break in the mangrove swamps and rain forest of the eastern Niger River delta, it served in the 19th century as a collecting point for slaves.
Known as the Aluminium City, Ikot Abasi is a historical port and melting point of economic and cultural influences.
It is the current focus of modern industrial development in Nigeria. Its rich cultural traditions, varied historical past and tremendous economic potentials, have made it to be the headquarters of successive local administrations, during both the colonial and post-independence eras.
Ikot Abasi, in the dual sense, is an urban centre, as well as an administrative division/local government area since both aspects were closely linked together.
The division was first created in 1892, with the name, Opobo Vice-Consulate, since it embraced the basin of the Opobo River, and was administered from Norah Beach located in the Opobo (Town) Island. Later, the administrative headquarters was transferred to a more convenient place up river, commonly called Egwanga, which was the property of Ikot Abasi Village of the Ibibio Ibekwe Clan.
History has it that in 1870, Jubo Jubogha, a former Igbo (Ibo) slave and ruler of the Anna Pepple house of Bonny, 45 km west-southwest, came to Ikot Abasi and founded the kingdom of Opobo, which he named Opobo the Great (reigned 1792–1830).
Also called Chief Jaja by Europeans, he destroyed the economic power of Bonny and made Opobo the leading power of the eastern Niger delta oil-palm trade until he was deported in 1887 by the British, who established a trading post at Opobo Town, six km southwest, on the west bank of the Imo River.
The administrative division, however, continued to bear the name Opobo but as a result of the local government reforms in 1977, and the transfer of Opobo Island (Town) and Western Obolo areas to Rivers State, Opobo Township (Egwanga or Egwanga-Opobo) was rightly renamed Ikot Abasi and made the headquarters of the new Ikot Abasi Local Government Area.
Thus, for the purposes, the names Egwanga, Egwanga-Opobo and Opobo Township all refer to Ikot Abasi, the indigenous name for the location of the present Ikot Abasi Local Government headquarters.
Similarly, at its creation in 1892, the Opobo Vice-Consulate/District extended over both sides of the Imo River and included the Opobo, Obolo (Andoni) and parts of Ijo, Ogoni, Ibibio, Anaang and the Igbo ethnic groups.
As from the 1930’s, however, as a result of successive and inter-divisional boundary adjustments that resulted from far-reaching administrative re-organisation, Opobo Division gradually contracted in size, losing some sections – the Anaang to Abak District; Obete to Aba Division; the Ogoni to Degema Division; Opobo Town and Western Obolo to Rivers State; some Ibibio clans to Mkpat Enin Local Government Area; and recently, Eastern Obolo to their own local government area (1996), leaving Ikot Abasi LGA much smaller in size than ever before and made up entirely of the Ibibio.
Until the 1970s, the ancient Opobo Kingdom was part of the then South Eastern State (later re-Christened Cross River). However, a boundary adjustment exercise split Opobo. Opobo Island was made part of Rivers State while the mainland part remained within Cross River. That area, renamed Ikot Abasi, now lies in present-day Akwa Ibom State.
Sources say ancient Ikot Abasi referred to a smaller settlement but the name has assumed a more or less generic dimension in recent times. In the larger sense, today’s Ikot Abasi comprises five clans: Ikpa-Ibekwe, Ukpum-Ette, Ukpum-Okon, Edem-Aya and Ikpa Nnung Asang. The palace of the paramount ruler of Ikot Abasi is within Ukpum okon clan.
Ikot Abasi once hosted a British Consulate, which is how one of the major streets here, Consulate Road, came by its name. At the roundabout leading to Consulate Road, a first time visitor would notice a statue of the late Justice Udo Udo Udoma, the first Nigerian to bag a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in law.
The deceased legend’s other achievements include his appointment as chairman, Constituent Assembly (1977 to 79), Chief Justice of Uganda (1963–69) and Governor-General of that African Great Lakes country in 1963.
Further down this road, stands the local government secretariat.
Overlooking the river, which separates Ikot Abasi from Opobo Island, are a number of quaint bungalows.
One or two of these blocks serve as offices of the Ikot Abasi Traditional Rulers Council. Opposite the secretariat, across narrow asphalt lane, is a monument that was unveiled on December 16, 1985 by Justice Udoma.
The spot, where the sculpture has been installed, is believed to be the place that some of the brave women were martyred in 1929.
Ikot Abasi is dotted with tourist attraction centres. Her beautiful beach front at Uta Ewa, the Berger Jetty along Uta Ewa creek and the coastline create attractive tourist resorts.
The abundant gas and oil deposits have attracted many establishments to the area. The oil fields include Utapate (onshore). Adna (offshore) and Asabo (offshore).
Arable agricultural produce include cassava, yam, sweet yam and maize while cash crops are not limited to oil palm, coconut, raffia, rubber and palm kernel.
There is abundant forest reserve for timber and wild life while commercial fishing thrives in the area. Ikot Abasi is also a home to Alscon, the biggest aluminum smelter plant in Africa.
There is abundant forest reserve for timber and wild life while commercial fishing thrives in the area. Ikot Abasi is also a home to Aluminium Smelter Company, Alscon, the biggest aluminium smelter plant in Africa.
It also hosts the headquarter of the nation’s formidable Naval Command, NNS Jubilee and the multi billion naira Ibom Power plant that generates 190 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
Recently, the town has been bedeviled by the activities of illegal bunkering and oil thieves but the Navy, under the present commodore, Saidu Garba, has maintained a zero tolerance for such criminal activities by arresting some of the economic saboteurs.
Similarly as part of his admin¬istration’s industrial¬isation master-plan, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom recently obtained a federal government approval for the dredging of Ikot Abasi water channel to make way for an interna¬tional oil and gas jetty.
Udom stated that the state government would build tank farms to store pe¬troleum products that would feed the state and its neighbours in the South-South and South-East parts of the coun¬try.
Besides complementing the Ibom Deep Seaport, the in¬ternational oil and gas jetty, according to him, would pro¬vide millions of jobs in the downstream sector as well as attract thousands of allied companies in the sector.