Edo State

Edo state is one of the thirty six (36) States of the present day Federal Republic of Nigeria which is a Federal Constitutional Republic consisting thirty six states and its Federal Capital Territory being Abuja. The country called Nigeria is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the West, Chad and Cameroon in the east and Niger in the Northern part. Its coast in the South lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three (3) major and largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas. In terms of Religion Nigeria is made up of a tripartite and mixture of three forms of religion which are Christianity, Islamic and a small minority who practice traditional religion. Majority of the Muslims are highly populated in the northern part of the country while majority of the Christians are also found in some parts of the north and large numbers in the middle belt, south west, south south and south eastern part of the country. The Nigerian National flag is divided vertically into three equal parts. The central part which is white , symbolizes peace and unity, and the two outer parts which are green, symbolizes the nation’s vast agricultural wealth. The Nigerian flag was designed by Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi and it was adopted on the 1st of October, 1960, when Nigeria got her independence from the British colony. Nigeria is a country of over 350 ethnic groups with 400 languages and 1000 different dialects.

Benin City (Edo) now the present Edo State occupy a territory east immediately after the Yoruba ethnic group and is one of the ethnic group which did first maintain contact with the earlier European visitors to Nigeria in the 15th Century. They are often referred to as the people of the forest due to the nature of the vegetation cover. The people of Edo share similar traditional leadership structure with the people from the South Western part of Nigeria and historically, evidence show that the Edos and the South Western Yorubas had contacts with the people in the Nothern part of Nigeria and they both share similar political and traditional leadership structure such as having kings and Kingdoms, Council of the Kings (known as Obas in the South-west and Mid-west or the Emirs in the North). But there is dissimilarity between the people of Edo state and that of the South Eastern part of Nigeria where their political structure is different from those of the people of Edo State, they run a loose and less organized Political structure system which is dispersed.

The people of Edo state come from one of the Niger-Congo family with over 700 languages which spread across the whole of West Africa up to South Africa. Historian, Bradburg (1964) suggest that these families through the course of time underwent separation and went ahead to form settlements which further diversify the language structure.

Before the advent of the Europeans, Benin (Edo) had a Kingdom, mythology has it that Edo was founded by the youngest son of the most High God (Osanobua) with his other brothers who included the King of Ile-Ife in Yoruba land and the European king who were sent to live in the World (agbon), on getting to the world and found it covered with water, the youngest son was told by a bird to up-torn the shell of a snail, after doing that sands flew out of the shell to form land on the water and the youngest son became the owner of the land and the King of Benin, that was how the “Oba of Benin” came about, though he was the youngest and wealthiest and the most powerful leader, he was seen as a political and spiritual leader, his elder brothers came to him to barter and have a portion of land to themselves. The Benin kingdom continued to expand upto the coast of dahomey in the present day Benin Republic and the Yoruba land uptill Lagos, it was said that the first occupiers of Lagos was the Benin people, while the Yorubas migrated to Lagos. The kingdom continued to spread to the Delta region and also close to the South East. The Kingdom maintain cross cultural links between the people of Edo and the Yorubas (another ethnic group) by way of trade, marriage and other bilateral relationship. The Edo people maintained a central system of leadership before the advent of colonialism.

Marriage System

Marriage system among the Benin people is done when a girl child is born, suitors begin to ask for her hand in marriage, by presentation of a log of wood and yams called Ovu-Omo (meaning, asking for the child). Before the day of the betrothal the father of the child informs his father and the suitor brings gifts of a jar of wine, two tray of slice coconut, two cola nut each and two shillings, on presenting the gifts to the father of the bride, the gifts are taken by the father to the shrine of the patrilineal ancestors notifying them about the betrothal of the female member of the family. The suitor then kneels in front of the father-in-law who then informs him that he hereby give the female child to him. Thereafter the suitor begins to perform the marriage rites of assisting the bride family in farming activities and giving of annual gifts of firewood and yams to the mother of the bride’s family, when the bride nears puberty, the suitor is informed and a date is fixed, he thereafter brings more gifts of wine, coconut and cola nut to notify the ancestors of the girl of the marriage rites and ask for the ancestors blessings. The groom or his father then makes payment of twelve pounds to the bride’s father and gives gift to the bride’s mother and people of the home who serve as witnesses to the marriage, the suitor makes payment of two shillings called anyi –miomi (meaning, wine of receiving the child) which finally seals the marriage. The next stage of the marriage is circumcision of the girl which expenses for carrying out is born by the suitor.

Thereafter the next celebration of the marriage proceeds to irhioharie ceremony, which is taking the bride to her husband’s place, she is accompanied by four people from her fathers family and three people from her mother’s family, the girl’s departure is characterized by sadness even if feigned. On arrival at the husband’s place she is placed on the husband’s laps, the bride is expected to feign shyness. She is received into the grooms home by the women in the place and cowries or money with a bowl of water is used in washing her feet. The cowry or monies signify a hope that the marriage will bear fruit and the washing of the bride’s hand with the bowl of water signify that she is accepted into the family.

The next morning at the husband’s house a goat is killed and the blood is used to perform rituals as the husband and wife hold hands standing in front of their house and dip a toe each in the blood from the slaughtered goat while prayers are being offered accordingly.

On the 7th day the bride is led to confess at the shrine of the husband’s ancestor if she had ever had any relationship before her marriage, if she had any, the husband is entitled to collect damages from those who have had affair with her, then she goes on to pray that the spirits of the ancestors of the husband accepts her into the husband’s house. The bride is taken to the mother in-law to teach her the necessary domestic duties of a wife, she should never eat in public with her husband until she has her own kitchen, this mark the end and conclusion of the marriage proper. This system of marriage is the Benin City, Edo State system of marriage which is also the same and or similar with some other states within the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Delta State and Edo State were created out of the defunct Bendel State and hence both share common institution of marriage system enumerated above.

Present Day Marriage Institution

The only influence on the marriage institution in Edo state is modern civilization, education, government and religious organization. There is a strong campaign against female genital mutilation, there are strong awareness campaign against it, often times people living in the urban areas tend to dissociate themselves from stringent traditional practices, the Christian religion has created so much impact on the need to drop some of the traditional practices which are unacceptable in the faith. Despite the efforts made by the Government and religious organizations towards the achievement of avoiding the practices, people in the rural areas are often so much attached to the norms or customs being handed over to them by their ancestors and seeing it as a “mirror of acceptable usage”. Hence any attempt to stop such was seen as an affront and threat to the tradition of the people of Edo State.

However Christians tend to prefer marriage under the Act and the church doctrine on marriage, whatever predicament the traditional marriage presents can be easily resolved with the help and counseling of the Church such as the Roman Catholic Church, which has underlined a procedure to be followed in marriage issues.

Also, Section 214-225 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Nigeria creates provision for the protection of girls under the ages of 16, it is a criminal offence to have carnal knowledge of such girls. Hence they cannot be given out in marriage either. Various punitive measures have been promulgated along with the offence ranging from 2years – 14years jail term with or without option of fine. These are some of the evolutions feasible in the present day Edo State marriage institution.

Creation of Edo state

Edo State of Nigeria was created by General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida the then Military Head of State and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the year 1991. It was among the 9 states that was created that year which included Enugu, Yobe, Osun, Adamawa, Abia, Delta, Jigawa, Kogi and Taraba States.

Location and Capital

Edo State is located in the Southern Part of Nigeria, also known as one of the south south states of the Federation. Her Capital is Benin City.

Map and Number of Local Government Areas

Edo state has a total number of 18 Local Government Areas namely: Akoko-Edo, Egor, Esan Central, Esan North East, Esan South East, Esan West, Etsako Central, Etsako East, Etsako West, Igueben, Ikpoba-Okha, Oredo, Orhionmwon Ovia North East, Ovia South West, Owan East, Owan West, Uhunmwonde.



The current elected Governor of Edo State as at March, 2013 is Mr. Adams Oshiomole of the Action Congress of Nigeria (A.C.N) political party.


The slogan adopted by the State is “The Heart Beat

Description of Edo State

Relief Regions:- Edo State is one of the relief regions in Nigeria as it is part of the Niger Delta (Southern States) which is low-lying, standing only a few metres above sea level, it is flat, it is crossed by a complex network of creeks all of which are distributaries of the Niger River (a major river in Nigeria which runs through to the confluence at Lokoja and in the interlands and penetrates the ocean in the delta region. The region is subject to extensive flooding during heavy annual rainfall and release of water dam (the Lagdo Dam) on the upper Benue from time to time large volumes of water are released from the dam and these cause extensive flooding, such flooding causes loss of lives, crops and properties, many of Nigeria’s rivers are subject to annual flooding and is therefore in some part swampy. Edo State is very important in the Nigerian economy being a part of the Niger Delta one of its mineral resources in the Niger Delta being crude oil is a major export income earner for Nigeria when it was still being the former Bendel State.The mean annual rainfall is between 150-200cm. Edo State is also majorly a TREE and ROOT CROP agricultural Zone in Nigeria.

Vegetation Cover

Nigeria has two main types of Vegetation: forest and savannah. Which is further subdivided into seven. Edo state has one of these seven Vegetation distribution which is TROPICAL RAIN FOREST– this vegetation zone extends across the country from the Benin border to the Oban Hills. High temperatures, high rainfall and a long rainy season, combining to favour plant growth during the year. In her natural form, the vegetation is predominantly a great variety of tree species with the crowns that are arranged in 3 district layers viz-a-viz;


  • The ground layer: this is found at the ground level and is made up of shrubs, herbs with some grasses. These form a tick tangle wherever they have access to sunlight, as long roads, rivers and man made clearings.
  • The middle layer: this is made up of trees which grow to heights of eighteen to twenty-four miters. Their branches often intertwine and their crown forms a continuous canopy like and mass which shuts out the sun from the ground layer. There are hundreds of varieties of trees and at any one time some are shedding their leaves, others are flowering and some are bringing forth new leaves. These forests always appear evergreen.
  • The top layer: these are made up of large trees, thirty meters tall, hovering above the middle layer. They form a discontinuous cover over the forest, it includes trees of great value for their timber, such as iroko, afar, mahogany, and sapele. In addition, there are many other plants in the tropical forest which are independent on other plants for survival or support these are the (1) parasitic plants which attach themselves to other plants and get their food from them (2) the saprophytes which feed from dead plants (3) the climbers which grow from the ground and make their way to the trunks and branches of other plants for survival and Epiphytes which also climb and have their roots in the air for aerial support from other plants.


These tropical rain forest belt is however being threatened daily by human activities such as constructions, building, food crop cultivation etc. The State is known for its rubber production before 2013. In fact Edo state was very popular for Rubber, Timber and some oil palm production which was formerly one of Nigeria’s export and cash crop, a major source of income .


Population Density and Rural Settlement

Edo State is a state of moderate population density. The form of settlement observed to be taken place in the State is Nucleated settlement. Families also maintaining ties with relations. The problem of these rural settlement is getting portable water and link roads, which is the bane and a major problem in the Rural areas, same cannot be said of the cities.


Social Infrastructure

The provision of social infrastructure is heavily in favour of the city, this is the major reasons the states experiences migration to the urban city from time to time.


Mineral Resources.

Edo state has large limestone Quarry deposit for cement production which is located in Ukpilla, Edo State it also has lignite and marble.


Food stuff trade

Edo state harbors one of the largest proportion of the internal trade in Nigeria in food stuff in the mid west which trade include gari (cassava flour), yam, plantain, banana and rice.

Also trade in forest products is also feasible in the State due to high demand from the construction companies for woods etc. Problem of internal trade is a big challenge for the state, where there are no effective railway network, bad roads and link roads not available and the epileptic power supply which does not favour the manufacturing industries is a great challenge to internal trade of the State.


One of the problem experience in the internal trade is poor road network which is a major problem. Although presently both the Federal and State Government have since awarded contracts for the construction of roads, but it is still in its infant and palliative stage with few nearing its completion.