Cross River at 50; overview of the state


Brief Overview of Cross River state by


Cross River is a state in the south- south  geopolitical zone of Nigeria. It’s coordinates are 5°45’N  8°30’E with a land mass 20,156 sq/km.

It is bounded to the north by Benue state, west by Ebonyi and Abia, east by Cameroon and south by Atlantic ocean and Akwa Ibom state. The state had a population of 3,737,517 at 2016 with a density of 190 sq/km ( 480sq/mi). It uses the time zone WAT (UTC +1).

Cross River was carved from the  former Eastern region by  Gen. Yakubu Gowon on the 27th of May 1967 and was called the South Eastern state. During the state creation exercise of Gen. Murtala Mohammed in 1976, he changed its name to Cross River. In september 1987 Akwa Ibom state was created from Cross River by Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Calabar is the capital of the state and it is made up of 18 local government areas. Akamkpa being the largest by land mass.

The official colours of the state are Blue and white and it’s motto is “THE PEOPLES PARADISE”.

Being that the state has been in existence during Military rule, it has had a blend of the “khaki boys” and  the “white collar men” handle its power.

Past Governors include:

  1. Uduokaha J. Esuene 28th May 1967 – July 1975
  2. Paul Omu  3rd February 1976- July 1978
  3. Babatunde Elegbede July 1978 – October 1979
  4. Clement Isong  October 1979 – october 1983
  5. Donald Etiebiet  October 1983 – December 1983
  6. Dan Archibong  May 1984-1986
  7. Eben Ibim Princewill 1986 – December 1989
  8. Ernest Attah  December 1989-January 1992
  9. Clement Ebri  January 1992- November 1993
  10. Ibrahim Kefas 9 December 1993-September 1994
  11. Gregory Agboneni 14 September 1994- 22 August 1996
  12. Umar Farouk Ahmed 22 August 1996 – August 1998
  13. Christopher Osundu August 1998-May 1999
  14. Donald Duke 29 May 1999- 29 May 2007
  15. Liyel Imoke 29 May 2007- 29 may 2015
  16. Benedict Ayade 29 May 2015 – till date

Cross River has multiple dialects and the indigenous languages have their  linguistic roots as Niger-Congo languages. The three major ethnic groups are the Efik, Ejagham and Bekwarra. The Efik speaking people are mainly in the southern part of the state and extends up to Arochukwu in Abia state. The Qua nation exists in Calabar too which speak Ejagham language.

The Government of the state strives to mix bussiness and pleasure thus the emergence of many major festivals during the course of the year such as

  • Cross River Christmas festival 1st-31st December yearly
  • Cross River carnival float  27th and 26th December annually( largest street party in Africa)
  • Yakurr leboku New Yam festival 28th August annually


  •  Ikom New yam Festival 1st saturday of September annually
  • Calabar Boat Regata.

Through the Plateaus to the rain forests, from the waterfalls to free flowing rivers,  there is always an adventure to experience in thus ecotourist state and they include

  • Obudu cattle ranch
  • Ikom monoliths
  • The Mary slessor tomb
  • Calabar drill monkey ranch
  • Cross River National Park
  • Afi mountain  canopy walkway
  • Kwa falls
  • Agbokim waterfalls
  • Marina resort
  • Tinapa business resort
  • National museum
  • Slave trade museum
  • Mary slessor residency

Cross River is blessed with notable natural resources such as limestone, clay, brine, salt, kaolin, barite, quartzite.

Oil palm, rubber and cocoa are produced in large quantity and exported from the state.

Vast institutions are around the state like the

  • University of calabar
  • Cross River University of Science and Technology
  • College of Education
  • Federal college of Education.


At 50 Cross River led by Sen. Prof. Benedict Ayade has been through thick and thin due to the economic instability of  the country and at that can we say the state has actually achieved what it should have at this Golden Age?

About the author

Ndifon Henry is a 400l medical student, event manager and red carpet presenter,  he loves writing, critical thinking and politics

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