CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONBACKGROUND OF THE STUDYThe Obot Akara people are found in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the south-south geo political zone, in a geo political entity which is today called Akwa Ibom State. Obot Akara is located in the old Ikot Ekpene Division which attained the status of an administrative centre as far back as 1914, when it was a sub-division of the old Enugu District in 1976. At the inception of the 17 local government area structure in the defunct Cross River State, Obot Akara was given a separate Local Government Area on December 4, 1996 as one of the last batches of the 183 Local Government Area created by the military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha1.The area called Obot Akara is largely a semi urban area such as Ikot Ukpong, Ikot Ukana, Nto Ndang, Nto Edino, among others. Obot Akara local government area has a total hand mass of 240.7 sq.km and is bounded in the North by Abia State, in the west by Ikot Ekpene Local government area and in the east by Ikono Local Government Area. The area has three clans, with 71 villages divided into 10 political wads and within estimated population of about 120,000 people (1991 census)2.Obot Akara Local Government occupies by Obot Akara people has a tourism potentials that be best described the base of Akwa Ibom Arts and artifact. The wood carvings and raffia works are internationally recognized and patronized. Obot Akara is located within the oil palm forest belt of Nigeria and the area promises high dividends for agro allied industries. More so, geologically confirmed sources have indicated the presence of some solid minerals deposit such as, diamond and sand for glass manufacturing, clay for ceramic products the area also has a large deposit of crude oil.It is against the background of this interesting area of study that the researcher decided to beam his search light on the social and economic history of Obot Akara people for before the era of colonial rule in Nigeria.The socio-economic history of any people is an important aspect of the activities of the people. Same is applicable to the Obot Akara people, it concerns the way and manner that such society is structured. The socio-economic history of Obot Akara people was principally on agriculture, and segmentary social structures.On the economic aspect, the people of Obot Akara engaged in palm production, fishing, hunting, wood carving, weaving, and communal labour.Also in the social sphere, the people of Obot Akara, as was typically of other communities of the Cross River valley, lived in organized but small-seized social political segments. The distribution of power and authority was based on membership of societies and various age grade, association and organizations. There were special organization for men as there were for women. The associations of men included Ekong, and Ekpo, whereas those for women comprised Ebere and Iban Isong3. An important feature of all these societies was that no clear supervising authority existing among members, the high degree of understanding which it forged among members keened to promote peace and respect for public order in the society.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMThe dearth of a detailed research work on the people of Obot Akara has left many unanswered questions. These questions include among others:-Who are the Obot Akara people? Where and when did they migrate and settled in the area presently called Obot Akara? What constitutes the economic and social activities of the people? What constitutes inter-group relations between the people of Obot Akara and its neighbors. The problem this research intends to solve is to find answers to these questions, for a detailed study on the socio-economic history of the people.OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDYThe study seeks to present a historical account of the social and economic activities of Obot Akara people. Specifically, objectives of the study are:To trace the historical region, migration and settlement of Obot Akara people;Examine the inter-group relations of Obot Akara people and its neighbours;Analyze the social and economic activities of Obot Akara people in pre-colonial time;To evaluate the impact of the socio-economic activities of the people of Obot Akara on the socio-economic development of Akwa Ibom State.