Skip to main content
Food Basket of the Nation
Quick Fact
Population: 4,253,641 (2006 census figures) - 9th of 37
Percentage of Nigeria's population: 3.03%
Population density:136 people per square kilometre - 21st of 37
Landmass: 31276.7 square kilometres - 12th of 27
State capital: Makurdi
Local Government Areas: 23
Current Governor: Gabriel Suswam


Benue State is one of the six states that make up Nigeria’s North Central geopolitical zone along with the Federal Capital Territory. It is located in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and shares an international boundary with the Republic of Cameroon to the southeast and interstate boundaries with Nasarawa State to the north, Taraba State to the east, Enugu, Ebonyi and Cross River states to the south, and Kogi State to the west. Its capital is Makurdi.

Land Mass, Location, and Population
Benue State covers an area of 31,276.7 square kilometres. It lies at latitude 5°25’ north and longitude 7°30’ east. It has a population of 4,253,641 (2006 census figures) with a population density of 136 people per square kilometre. The state accounts for 3.03% of Nigeria’s total population.

Main Towns and Cities
Makurdi (capital city), Gboko, Otukpo, Katsina-Ala, Zaki Biam, Vandeikya, Obi, Okpokwu, and Ogbadibo

History and People

Benue is named after the Benue River, the second largest in Nigeria and the state's most prominent geographical feature.

Benue State was originally part of the Northern Region in the three-region structure of 1954. With the creation of twelve federal states by General Yakubu Gowon’s military government in 1967, Benue-Plateau State was established. In 1976 the military government of General Murtala Muhammed created nineteen states out of the existing twelve and Benue-Plateau State was divided into two. In 1991, General Ibrahim Babangida’s military government created Kogi State by carving out parts of Benue and Kwara states.

There are several ethnic groups in Benue State: the largest are the Tiv, Idoma, and Igede people. The main religion in Benue State is Christianity. Islam and traditional religions are also practised by some of its inhabitants.

Economy and Educations

The northern parts of Benue State are grass savannah while there is woodland savannah in the south. Agriculture is very important in the state. The state is referred to as the nation's "food basket" because of its rich and diverse agricultural produce, which include yams, rice, beans, cassava, potatoes, maize, soya beans, sorghum, millet and coco-yams. It accounts for over 70 percent of Nigeria's soya bean production. Fishing in inland waterways and animal husbandry are other significant commercial activities.

The major minerals found in the state include limestone, gypsum, kaolin, lead, zinc, anhydride, coal, calcite, gemstones and magnetite. Breweries and cement manufacturing are its major industries.

The tertiary institutions in the state includes: Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; a state university - Benue State University, Makurdi; a private university -University of Mkar, Mkar; the Colleges of Education at Katsina-Ala and Oju, Akperan; Federal Technical School, Otukpo; the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery in Markudi; and a number of polytechnics.

Further Description

Governors and Administrators:

  • Abdullahi Shelleng (Governor – Military): March 1976 – July 1978
  • Adebayo Lawal (Governor – Military): July 1978 – October 1979
  • Aper Aku (Governor – Civilian (National Party of Nigeria)): October 1979 – December 1983
  • John Akperan (Governor – Military): January 1984 – August 1985
  • Jonah David Jang (Governor – Military): August 1985 – August 1986
  • Yohanna Madaki (Governor – Military): August 1986 – September 1986
  • Ishaya Bakut (Governor – Military): September 1986 – December 1987
  • Idris Garba (Governor – Military): December 1987 - July 1988
  • Fidelis Makka (Governor – Military): July 1988 – January 1992
  • Moses Adasu (Governor – Civilian (Social Democratic Party)): January 1992 – November 1993
  • Joshua O. Obademi (Administrator – Military): December 1993 – August 1996
  • Aminu Isa Kontagora (Administrator – Military): August 1996 – August 1998
  • Dominic Oneya (Administrator – Military): August 1998 – May 1999
  • George Akume (Governor – Civilian (People’s Democratic Party)): May 1999 – May 2007
  • Gabriel Suswam (Governor – Civilian (People’s Democratic Party)): May 2007 – May 2015
  • Samuel Ortom ( Governor - Civillian( All Progressive Party) May 2015- Present

Local Government Areas:

  • Agatu
  • Apa
  • Buruku
  • Gboko
  • Guma
  • Gwer-East
  • Gwer-West
  • Katsina-Ala
  • Konshisha
  • Kwande
  • Obi
  • Makurdi
  • Ogbadibo
  • Ohimini
  • Oju
  • Okpokwu
  • Otukpo
  • Tarka
  • Ukum
  • Ushongo
  • Vandeikya

Notable Indigene

Benue indigene, Joseph Sarwuan Tarka was a politician and a former minister for Transport during General Yakubu Gowon.

Did You Know

The Road-Railway Bridge (also known as the Old Bridge) in Makurdi was the first bridge that linked the north and south of Nigeria. It was built in 1932; previously, a ferry was used to transport people and goods across the Benue River. The bridge cemented Makurdi's importance as a commercial centre during the pre-independence era.