Ado local government area is amongst the 149 local government areas created by former President Ibrahim Babangida on 11th May, 1989. It was carved out of the former Okpokwu local government area and is made up of five major districts and various large settlements. The districts are Agila, Igumale, Ulayi, Ijigban and Utonkon. Some of the settlements are Apa, Ikpomolokpo, Ekile, Ujo etc. The headquarters of the local government is Igumale. The local government area has an estimated population of 318,000. The people have a common dialect, although Utonkon uses Ufia along with the general dialect.
The local government area lies in the Southwest fringe of the Benue state boundary with Anambra State. It is bounded on the North by Otukpo local government area; to the East and West by Oju and Okpokwu local government areas respectively. It has a landmass of 2,446 sq km of undulating playing with patches of knolls to the South. There are five major streams in the local government area namely; Okpokwu, Ogege, Awu, Atsani and Ado, from which the name of the local government was derived.
The local government has ten council wards. Ado local government area is endowed with a very rich cultural heritage. This could be seen in the system of traditional marriage, cultural dances, masquerades, festivals, age groupings, chieftaincy institutions, arts and the religions of the people.
Among the numerous cultural dances are Odabaru and Ikirigidi. All masquerades are believed to be incarnated ancestral spirits except the “Akatakpa” which is believed to be a slave. The most popular festival among the people is the Ujoh or Joha. Traditional religion and the worship of ancestral spirits done through various masquerades or other physical mediators still predominate in the area along with Christianity.
The people are mainly subsistent farmers with a number of individuals undertaking agriculture on commercial level using modern farming techniques. Hunting, fishing and palm wine tapping are other forms of occupation, although these are usually seasonal and are practiced by some people along with traditional farming.
The major agricultural produce of the people include oil palm produce, citrus, yams, rice, cassava, maize, sorghum, beans, beniseed, soybeans, groundnuts, plantain and banana. Forestry produce are mainly high quality timber form Mahogany and Iroko trees. There are assorted local breeds of cattle, goats, pigs and fowls. There is also an agro service centre at Utonkon.
The local government derives its major internal revenue from license, rent, markets etc. The local markets are usually five days internal apart from Ukwonyo whichis ten days. Others are Rijo, Egwu, Agila, Ukwo Apa, Nwedoga, Inikiri and Odoke. These also operate skeletal markets to cater for the immediate needs at various locations.
People come from all over the places to attend the normal market days. The major commercial activity is the sale of agricultural produce. All these items are produced in commercial quantities. Garri is sold in all the major markets particularly Ukwonyo, Rijo and Agila. It is processed locally from cassava.
The major industrial activity is blacksmithing. Blacksmiths are found all over the place manufacturing hoes, cultlasses, traps and other metal products. There are area local weavers and basket makers as well as potters. All these industrial products can be of commercial quantity if properly harnessed. With the coming of electricity supply to Utonkon and Igumale, it is hoped that industrial activities will soon be enhanced in the local government area. There is a rice mill at Utonkon. There are banks at Igumale and Utonkon.
The East-bound railway track passes through Utonkon and Igumale. There are Utonkon Agila and Igumale Okpoga roads. Each districts is linked to the other by roads and paths constructed mostly through community development efforts. These facilities provide enabling environment for investments particularly in the area of mineral exploitation and mineral related investments. Here, the large quantities of mineral deposits in the area e.g. common salt and lead deposits at Agila, cement at Igumale, Agila and Ulayi and petroleum deposit at Utonkon some of which have been sampled and certified to be very high quality are major investments sources waiting to be tapped.