Nassarawa State came into existence on the 1st of October, 1996. It State. The creation of Nassarawa State, as it is now, is the result of many years of agitation arising from strong political feelings of marginalisation and neglect.
The present Nassarawa State had formed the bulk of what was the southern part of former Plateau State comprising ten local governments, namely Akwanga, Awe, Doma, Karu, Keffi, Lafia, Nassarawa, Nassarawa Eggon, Obi and Toto. The State occupies a total land area of 27,137.8sq. km.
At its creation in October 1996, Nassarawa State had ten local gov ernment areas (LGAs). The state capital was located at Lafia. By November 1996, three more local government areas were created thus giving a total of thirteen local government areas in the State (see Table 25.1). The three new local government areas created in 1996 are Keana (out of Awe), Kokona.
Following the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the administrative structure of the Nassarawa State government comprises the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms. The Executive arm is headed by the Governor.
The State Executive Council is made up of the Governor, his Deputy, the Secretary to the state if government and all commissioners. They are responsible for policy directives, implementation strategies and the actual implementation for approved programmes and projects. Nassarawa State currently has eleven ministries and eleven commissioners, who are the political heads of these ministries .
Some of these ministries have parastatals under them. These are normally headed by Permanent Secretaries or Directors and enjoy a reasonable level of autonomy in terms of financial and administrative management in order to facilitate programme effectiveness. The entire civil service is under the control of the executive arm for the day to day and routine administration the state.
The Legislature, i.e. State House of Assembly, has twentytwo members. Its leadership is made up of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Clerk of the House, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and the Majority and Minority Whips. It is responsible for making laws for the good governance of the State and the supervision of the executive arm. The Judiciary, on the other hand, is made up of the state High Court, magistrate courts and area courts in the descending order. The Chief Judge heads this arm of the government.
The Local Governments in Nassarawa State are thirteen in number, and provide the lower tier of government in the state. Each is headed by a Chairman, a deputy Chairman and Councillors who are also democratically elected. Indigenous traditional institutions of authority exist alongside the state and local government councils.
They also provide leadership and facilitate community administration especially at the grassroots level. These are emirates, headed by Emirs and Chiefdoms headed by other traditional rulers. The emirates are Lafia, Keffi, and Nassarawa, headed by Emirs and they are all first class Chiefs.
The Andoma of Doma, the Aen Eggon of NassarawaEggon, the Chum Mada of Akwanga, and the Osana of Keana are the other first class Chiefs in the state. The Emir of Lafia is the Chairman of the Nassarawa State Traditional Council, while the leading Chief in each local government acts as the Chairman of the Local Traditional Council.
Ethnic Composition, Languages, Culture and the Arts:
Nassarawa State, in terms of ethnic composition, is Nigeria on a mini
scale. Not only are the ethnic groups numerous, they are also thor oughly intermingled and overlapping in their geo graphical locations, to the extent that the areas of dominance of each group cannot be easily separated.
The major ethnic groups include Eggon, Tiv, Alago, Hausa, Fulani, Mada, Rindre, Gwandara, Koro, Gbagyi, Ebira, Agatu, Bassa, Aho, Ake, Mama, Arum and Kanuri. While English and Hausa are widely spoken in the state, all the ethnic groups indicated above also have their own languages or Traditional religions are widespread.
However, the two leading religions (Christianity and Islam) have made a greater impact among the people. Although cultural artifacts are scattered among the ) cultural groups all over the state, no collection has yet been made as at now. A museum is yet to be built.
Among the many cultural activities are, for example, the Umaisha and OyooreKeana festivals in Toto and Keana local government areas respeclively. Others are observed within the course of the practice of the peoples' economic and social activities such as farming, fishing, as well as marriage, naming ceremonies and burial activities which reflect the varied cultural realities of the people.
These manifest also in the commercial and recreational spheres of their lives. Dyeing, weaving, carving and blacksmithery are among the traditional industries of the people. Thus items of art and crafts, such as baskets, carved wooden implements like ladles, pestles and mortars, besides iron implements like knives, cut lasses, hoes, etc are a common sight in the local markets.
Pottery and calabash carving also represent items of art and crafts, produced for either domestic purposes or as items used for carriage of goods, such as the Bassa and Gbagyi are often seen carrying on their shoulders.