Aba is a city in the southeast of Nigeria and the commercial center of Abia State. Upon the creation of Abia state in 1991, Aba was divided into two local government areas namely; Aba South and Aba North. Aba south is the main city centre and the heartbeat of Abia State. Aba was established by the Ngwa indigenous people – an Igbo group that constitutes the largest and most populous sub-ethnicity, or clan, in southeastern Nigeria, as a market town. It lies along the west bank of the Aba River, and is at the intersection of roads leading to Port Harcourt, Owerri, Umuahia, Ikot Ekpene, and Ikot-Abasi. The city became a collecting point for agricultural products following the British made railway running through it to Port Harcourt. Aba is a major urban settlement and commercial centre in a region that is surrounded by small villages and towns. Aba is well known for its craftsmen and also the most populous city in the South Eastern Nigeria. As of 2016, Aba had an estimated population of 2,534,265. It eventually became an administrative centre of British colonial government.
Aba has been a major commercial centre since it became part of the old Eastern region. In 1901, the British founded a military post in Aba and in 1915, a railroad was constructed to link it to Port Harcourt, which transported agricultural goods such as palm oil and palm kernels. In 1929 Aba was the site of a revolt by Igbo women, historically known as “The Aba Women’s Riot”, a protest of the colonial taxation policy.
The riot started first as a peaceful protest against the initial census of women in the region, and subsequent assumed taxation of the women based upon rumor. The protests spread throughout the palm oil belt, but remained peaceful until a pregnant woman was knocked over during a “scuffle”, and the lady lost her pregnancy. The news of this “act of abomination” spread rapidly and violent reactions ensued. After more deaths, some accidental, some not, occurred, a mass of about 10,000 women marched on Aba. By the 1930s, Aba was becoming a large urban community with an established industrial complex. During the height of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, the state capital of Biafra was moved to Umuahia from Enugu and that made Aba a target of devastation as it bore the brunt of the War.
Aba is surrounded by oil wells which separate it from the city of Port Harcourt. A 30 kilometers of pipeline powers Aba with gas from the Imo River natural gas repository. Its major economic contributions are Textiles/leather products, Palm Oil, Pharmaceuticals, Plastics, Cosmetics, Brewing, Glass works, Distillery and its Handicrafts etc. The Ariaria International Market is the second largest market in Nigeria and there are a host of other specialized markets and shopping plazas in Aba that makes the city a gigantic shopping destination of international reckoning.
The city has played a lasting role in the Christian evangelism of the Southeast of Nigeria since the arrival of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and their partners.
The city has well over 150 primary and secondary schools, and about 10 tertiary institutions. Enyimba International F.C., popularly known as The Peoples Elephant, is the town’s most popular football club. Enyimba FC’s winning track-record is among the richest of all Nigerian football clubs. With two CAF Champions League Trophies, six Nigeria Premier League titles and a pair of Federation Cup trophies, the club is currently ranked 2nd in the CAF Club Rankings.
Aba, a city positioned to elevate, transform and sustain all round growth of Abia State has remained debilitated by the misfortune of bad and visionless leadership with piles of refuse and dilapidated roads to show for it.