Owerri (əˈwɛrɪ) city is the capital of Imo State, South East Nigeria. Owerri is set in the heart of Igboland. It is also the state's largest city, followed by Orlu and Okigwe as second and third respectively.
Owerri is home to popular higher institutions such as the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State University, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, and several secondary and primary schools. There is a government hospital and a teaching hospital, and private hospitals of varying sizes. The town is located in one of the most densely populated areas of Nigeria and is inhabited by the predominantly Christian Igbo people.
The slogan of Owerri is "Heartland". It is called the "entertainment capital of Nigeria" because of its high density of spacious hotels, high street casinos, production studios and high quality centres of relaxation. It consists of three Local Government Areas including Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West. Owerri is a major trade centre for yams, cassava, garri (cassava flakes), corn [maize], and palm products for a region of modified rainforest that also yields rubber for export.
In 2016, it had a population of 1.4 million people, and is approximately 100 km² (40 sq mi) in area. Owerri is bordered by the Otamiri River to the east and the Nworie River to the south. Owerri is home to the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State University, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, and several secondary schools. It is also served by a general hospital and a federal hospital - Federal Medical Center, Owerri.
It is bordered by the states of Anambra to the north, Abia (until 1991 part of Imo state) to the east, and Rivers to the south and west.
Owerri was founded in the 14th century by founding father Ekwem Oha. His mother's name was Arugo. He fled from Umuori Village, Uratta in Owerri North, the Local Government Area of Imo State, when his life was threatened by his younger brother Ndum. The British first entered the territory in 1901, when they established a military post in the region. Imo consists of coastal lowlands to the east of the Niger River. Most of the state’s original tropical rain forest vegetation has been replaced by more open areas of oil-palm bush. Owerri is mainly inhabited by the Igbo (Ibo). It is one of the most densely populated cities in Nigeria and Christianity is the predominant religion.
The town is at the intersection of major roads from Aba in Abia State, Onitsha in Anambra State, Port Harcourt in Rivers state, and Umuahia in Abia State.
Prospective visitors/tourists wishing to access Owerri by Air have to use Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport (IATA: QOW, ICAO: DNIM). Despite the name, as of June 2021, there are passenger flights from Abuja (1 hr, from ₦27,500) and Lagos (1 hr, from ₦33,000) on Air Peace and United Nigeria Airlines. United Nigeria also flies from Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Asaba. It's located in Ngor Okpala LGA in Imo State. It was the first state-government-built airport and the funding of the airport was by contributions and levies paid by Imo indigenes.
- 1 Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport (Imo State Airport), Isuobiangwu in Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area (follow Okigwe Rd and Wetheral Rd to Aba-Owerri Expy/Douglas Rd/A6, at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Aba-Owerri Expy/Douglas Rd/A6). Daily 7AM-7PM.
Many transport companies in Owerri offer daily services from almost all major cities and states around the country as well as international destinations in West Africa like Ghana and Cameroon. The buses are usually comfortable for short and long journeys. You can travel to Owerri from major cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin and Kano. Some of the transport companies are Imo Transport Company (ITC) (with air conditioned bus), ABC Transport (with air conditioned luxurious bus rides), Ekene Dili Chukwu, Chisco Transport (CTN), The Young Shall Grow, God Is Good Motors, Peace Mass Transit and Abia Line.
- 2 Imo Transport Corporation (ITC), Plot 16-28, MCC Uratta Road (from Wethdral road by MMC Junction, enter a carb and drop at Imo State Transport Company), ☏ +234 803 702 7462. Daily 6AM-7PM. Imo State Transport Company is a transportation service center that offers staff bus shuttle, and local tours within and outside Imo State. ₦900-10,000.
The main forms of transportation in the city are buses. Okada (motorcycles) are not allowed to ply in Owerri city. Most transport enters and leaves the city of Owerri through Sumachi Motor Park.
- 1 Owerri Zoo (Nekede Zoo). The zoological garden was established under the Ministry of Agriculture in 1976 and sits on 10 hectares of reserved forest. The zoo houses a large variety of animals like lions, pythons, gorillas, crocodiles, ostriches, monkeys among other animals.
- Freedom Square
- Chief Uwunna Recreational Park
- Mbari cultural and art center Mbari cultural center is a tourist attraction that promotes the culture, history and tradition of Igbo people. It houses sculptures and artefacts hoping to tell their story via artistic expressions. It is a traditional arts and crafts centre, which shelters sculptures and artefacts of the Igbo people. The house tells stories of the lives and tradition of the Igbo people and boasts artistic representations of several deities.
- 2 Freedom Square. Found on Freedom Square Road, almost opposite IMO International Conference Center. It is a place to have fun and relax.
- 3 Imo State Council for Arts and Centre, Mbari Street Ikenegbu Layout Ikenegbu Layout Owerri. Imo State Council for Arts and Centre is a reach repository of the culture, history and tradition of Igbo people. It has sculptures and artefacts in it that tell the story of the Igbo culture.
- 4 National Museum Owerri. Contain artefacts and histoty of the Igbo People.
- 5 Oguta Lake.. A beautiful serene environment .great experience.The last stand of the Nigerian Civil war called the Biafran War where they surrendered. The garden is perfect for picnics and pictures.
- 6 Chief Uwunna Recreational Park, Imo State University. A cool recreation park located inside the Imo University a good place to relax from a busy day open to all .It has a central location in the University.
- Oru Owerri which is also known as Oru Eze (the kings festival) is a festival and cultural carnival celebrated annually Owerri people in remembrance of the creation of Owere (Owerri) by Ekwem Oha. It is celebrated by five traditional villages in Owerri Municipal. The festival is been celebrated July every year and it last for one week.The festival kicks off at Ugwu Ekwema (Ekwema's hill) where a community civic center was built. The festival commences with roasting and eating of special yams.
- 1 Imo Carnival, 48 Ohaozewa Aldinma Ohaozewa, ☏ +234 812 212 1040. Outdoor recreational space with tons of people visiting during the carnival. The carnival is held annually from 16 to 31 December. It is a showcase of the rich and beautiful cultural heritage of the people. Participants are attired in different costumes and parade the streets of Owerri with lots of musical, dance and varying entertainment.
- 2 IHOP Children Park (Amusement Park), Concorde Avenue New Owerri. The children’s park is opposite the Concorde Hotel. It has a lot of green areas, a playground, games and activity to play with. There is a bush bar, restaurant. There’s a restroom for visitors and parking lots could be a bit cumbersome as they are on the other side of the park. This park borders with Hero’s Apartment and Ojukwu Park. Nice for family and group activities It is accessible for handicapped people too.♿️Wheelchair users can get through the entrance and move through the walkways easily. Free.
- 3 Peace Island Recreational Area, Fish Island No 4 Orlu Street Extension. A recreation centre where you can bask in nature.
- 1 Shoprite Owerri, Egbu Road. It is a really large mall, and you are spoilt with a choice variety of shops. There is also an array of unlimited restaurants. It is a nice place to shop as you have a choice of things you can buy, all under one roof.
There are two main urban markets in Owerri namely: Ekeukwu Owerri Market and Relief Market. These markets operates daily from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday's shops in the market are usually locked, then traders stay by the road side and sell their goods.
Most goods in Owerri are sold in open markets or by street hawkers. A significant number of street hawkers are children and youth. Relief Market is a major market for the sale of garri, baskets of tomatoes, bags of onions, etc. It is patronized by merchants from stats such as Aba, Umuahia, Enugu and Onitsha. Non-food goods are also sold in Relief market while Ekeukwu Owerri market clothing, household wares, beauty products are sold there and also food items.
There are also beautiful supermarkets for shopping. Some of them offer in-store shopping, pick-up, and delivery.
- Destiny Supermarket
- Everyday Supermarket Eporium 4 at Israel Nwoba Street. It offers a wide range of products from hair and beauty products to groceries, household items and much more.
- Maris Supermarket
- Glorisco Supermarket at # 14 Mbaise Road
- Estevia Supermarket #39 Quinters Youth Opp Civic Centre Estate, Concorde Ave, New Owerri
- Multilife Supermarket at #30 Mbari Street
- Macjeo Supermarket at #10 old market road
There are numerous restaurants and fast foods where you can eat local and delicious cuisines. Most of them offer dine-in, takeaway and delivery.
- Crunches Fast Food.
- De Toothpicks, Plot 131, Ikenegbu Layout. M-Sa 8AM-10PM (closed Su).
- Dickson Fast Food, Located on Umuoba Urrata Rd.
- Eat Nsmile Place, #14 MCC-Urrata, Urrata Rd. M-Sa 9AM-7:15PM (closed Su).
- Hungary Man Resturant, #2 Musa Yar' Adua Way. M-Sa 9AM-10PM (closed Su).
- Jevnik Restaurant, #19 Umez Eronini St.
- 1 Kilimanjaro Fast Food and Restaurants, Orlu Rd (Head southeast toward Sam MbaKwe Ave, turn right at Focal Eagles Ltd. onto Sam MbaKwe Ave, At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit and stay on Sam MbaKwe Ave, at the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Assumpta Ave/Okigwe Rd/Onitsha - Owerri Expy/A6 and at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Orlu Rd/Owerri - Orlu Rd), ☏ +234 700 5454 3663, email@example.com. 8AM-8PM daily. Kilimanjaro Fast Food and Restaurants is one of the Sundry Foods’ restaurant brands. It offers a variety of food to their customers.
- Mimi's Place.
- Renny's Foods, Ltd. Renny's Foods has two locations in Owerri; #118 Wetheral Rd, and #45 Ekwema Cres
- Tweeter Bites.
- Sunic Foods, #13 Nwaturuocha St.
Owerri has a number of spots where visitors/tourists can drink and sample a taste of the city’s amazing local dishes like nkobi and ugba. Such spots include but are not limited to:
- Boom Lounge.
- California Lounge and Bar, On Mbonu Ojike Rd.
- Cubana lounge.
- De Angels Bar and Grills, Plot 116, Housing Area B.
- Ibari Ogwa, On Port-Hacourt Rd.
- Nnanwa Bar and Lounge.
- 1 Old English Bar and Grills, Item, Ikenegbu Rd, Owerri, ☏ +234 803 935 2371. 24 hr. It is quiet, clean with prompt service, well trained and knowledgeable staff. A good menu with an varied selection of dishes. Rumoured to have great sea food rice. Good nightlife and cool music, they also have a wall gallery. Reservations are required. Masks and temperature checks are required as well. Surfaces are disinfected between each customer. Service options are Delivery, takeaway, and dine-in.
- Orange Room, At New Owerri.
- Singapore Bar & Grill, Freedom Road (by the 2nd Inland road junction).
- 1 De Majestic Gardens, ☏ +234 803 754 2524. An accessible location offering free breakfast with a serene environment and friendly staff. ₦27,065.
- 2 Famous Suites, ☏ +234 909 205 0222. A 3-star hotel that has decent lodging, and a cool ambience. It has a swimming pool and the environment is clean.
- 3 Imo Concorde Hotel, Concorde Avenue, ☏ +234 803300618. It is a 4-star hotel lodging and pretty decent. You are entitled to free WiFi and a good parking space. It is suitably located and accessible. ₦51,410.
- 4 Jacobs Place Hotel. Fairly decent 3-star hotel with a swimming pool. ₦31,020.
- 5 JJ Mas Hotel And Suites, Plot CI Building Along Hospital Road 460106, ☏ +234 907 473 3120. Standard rooms are well kept with a serene ambience. Good swimming pool and trained polite staff. An organized and curated experience. The food is excellent and buffet services are included. ₦64,776.
- Pinewood Hotel, 1 to 6 Umezuike Close, Orlu Road Owerri. Check-in: 10AM, check-out: noon. Standard accommodation and restaurant offering local and continental dishes. A 3-star hotel with decent lodging, and they offer free parking and breakfast. ₦5000-25,000.
- 6 Protea Hotel by Marriot, Plot H/1 Nekede Layout Protea Road 460132, ☏ +234 8139833310. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 11.00. A 3-star hotel, and part of an international brand. Clean rooms, a serene atmosphere, and well-trained staff. It has a fitness centre, accommodates free parking, a swimming pool is available and great dining. Free Wifi. ₦48,942.
- Greatwood Hotels.
- Hotel Ibis Royale, Owerri.
- La Amistad Suites.
- Newton Hotel Limited, Plot H2 Imo Specialist Hospital Rd, Imo, New Owerri.
- Titanic View Hotel & Suites, Ltd., Sam Mbakwe Ave (next to World Bank Estate).
- 7 Green Palm Apartments, No 2 Nixon Onyirimba Avenue, Area G, ☏ +234 803 306 2200. 7AM-7PM daily. Free WiFi, an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking available on site. Each unit at the apartments has air-conditioning, a sitting area with satellite flat-screen TV, and a fully equipped kitchen. Continental breakfast included. A car rental service is also available at the accommodation.
Visitors moving around in Owerri should endeavour to sanitize their hands and wear nose masks to avoid being infected with COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The region has also reportedly been under siege by the army and constant attacks by "unknown gunmen". It is advisable to be careful and not to stay out late.
From Owerri you can go to some other cities and states in Nigeria like: