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Saturday, July 13, 2024

ANIOMA STATE: IS IT A REALITY? By Professor Steve Agwo Okecha 

I had said to myself several times, that I would retire from commenting on Ndokwa/Ukwuani issues to avoid being insulted and embarrassed by some shallow thinkers. But, each time I attempted to do so, something always cropped up to halt my retirement. Here, we are at it again!

Whenever some non-Ukwuani people in Delta North discuss gleefully the proposed creation of Anioma State, it is the Ndokwa/Ukwuani land that they are targetting, hopefully, for two reasons: first, the viability of the state based on the oil and gas on our soil; second, the possibility of cashing in on our people’s docility, political short-sightedness, servile and sycophantic disposition – tools for easy manipulation. Somehow, a number of our people [the youths in particular] appear to love the creation of Anioma State out of ignorance, and for political crumbs from their pay masters. They are so myopic that they are unable to listen to the elders. Hunger is a terrible thing! Someone among us said the other day, that we wear red caps; the Ibos wear red caps; so we are all Ibos. What a logic! This means that anyone who wears a red cap is an Ibo; the Kano men who wear red caps are Ibos too; so are the Urhobos, the Ijaws, the Itekiris, the Isokos and the Ibiroms who wear red caps. What a display of ignorance! Another ignoramus asked: Do we prefer Wado to Bia?

What is Anioma? The word was coined not long ago by four people: one professor from Ika; two professors from Aniocha and one rich businessman form Aniocha. No Ukwuani man was involved in the choice and coinage of the term. So, we really have no business with Anioma. It is NOT an ethnic entity – certainly NOT.The Ika professor’s house was directly opposite mine in the staff quarters of the university, where both of us once served. He, it was, who told me the story of the emergence of “Anioma.” I have written volumes about our identity. All I can say here is that we are NOT Ibos, Western Ibos, Delta Ibos, Kwales, Bendel Ibos, Ika Ibos, Kwale Ibos, Ukuales. We are simply Ukwuani people. Our ancestors were energetic, self-respecting people. But today, some of our youths are doing everything to embarrass our land. Ndokwa/Ukwuani region is now a breeding ground for: Half-baked journalists, Pseudo-historians, PAs, PPAs, SAs, SSAs, Blackmailers, Professional praise singers, Betrayers, People that symbolise dishonesty, treachery, inconstancy and disloyalty.

An Ukwuani man, in an attempt to convince us that we are Ibos, said that Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has claimed that he is Ibo. So what? How is that our business? That is his personal opinion. So if Okowa [an Ika man, from Owa Alero] says he is an Ibo man, Ukwuani people must, therefore, be Ibos? Those who reason that way should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, and should have their mental condition thoroughly examined.Sunday Oliseh, whose paternal grandfather was once the Okpala – Uku of Ebedei, says up till now, that he is an Abavo man. Have the heavens fallen? The agitation for Anioma State did not start today. The late Asagba of Asaba [Professor Chike Edozien of blessed memory] played a significant role. So, no single person today can claim the credit. Yes, no one can claim the credit today. I am really disturbed. What is the need for the creation of more states in Nigeria, whereas about 73% of the ones in existence are clearly NOT viable. Many states are unable to pay the minimum wage of N30,000. People are clamouring for more states because the main source of food and power in this country is politics. The position of Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency on Anioma State creation has been carefully and ably articulated by the NNU under the leadership of General Mike Ndubisi. That is our collective stand. The agitation of some people [in and outside our land] for the inclusion of the proposed Anioma State in the Southeast geopolitical zone is an ABERRATION. People may have individual inclinations, but, we have, as guided by the NNU, decided to team up with our fellow constituents of the defunct Delta Province. We share many cultural affinities, which I shall enumerate later in this discourse.

I do not believe in state creation in Nigeria, for now. But, if any state is to be created for Delta North, it should bear a completely different name; its capital should be OBIARUKU [a fast growing city] or KWALE [a hub for several oil companies]. No more, no less. Personally, I detest the term “Anioma.” I have never used the word [I prefer Delta North] in my writings or in my public utterances. And of course, Anioma State in NOT my cup of tea. I have read what one of us said on one platform: Ibos marry our girls, and our people marry theirs, and so we can be together. This is bunkum. Haven’t our men and women married Ijaws, Itekiris, Ikas, Ibibios, Nupes, Hausas, Idomas, Tivs, Ibiroms Igalas, Yorubas, and even non-Nigerians? We need to be more serious; this is not a joking matter. Some of our names, some of our words are similar to those of the Ibos. This does not make us Ibos or make the Ibos Ukwuani. We are completely different groups of people. The Igarras of Edo North and the Egbiras of Okenne in Kogi State, speak EXACTLY the same language. But they claim TWO different ethnic groups. Obi is a name borne by people in Iboland, Ukwuaniland, Isokoland, Idomaland, Aniochaland, Edo North, and other places. This does not mean that these places have any cultural or linguistic similarities. German is the official language of Austria, but Austrians are NOT Germans. Many of us in Ukwuaniland bear foreign names: John, James, Johnson, Victoria, Evelyn, Patricia, Samuel, Dennis, Christopher, Paul, George, Helen, and many, many more. Can we now claim to be British?

I wish to proudly say that we have many incontestable typical Ukwuani names, such as: Uligi, Ubege, Etigwam, Otunuya, Oliseyenum, Chimkwanum, Anamali, Ochonogor, Ishiekwene, Animam, Ogbolu, Nwose, Oshamisu, and many more. One way to preserve our identity is to give our children typical Ukwuani names.The Dein of Agbor has recently ordered his subjects to now give typical Agbor, non-Ibo-sounding names to their children. And I salute him. We have more to do in common with our fellow Deltans than with the Ibos. We have interacted [and are interacting] more with fellow Deltans than with the Ibos. We and other Deltans respect elders; this is not quite the case with the Ibos. The Ibos are too opinionated and dogmatic. Deltans are not so.The Ibos worship money, and can do anything and everything to get money. We are not so.

Our people dress like other Deltans. Women: George wrappers, blouses, headties, trinkets. Men: Wrappers, bowler hats, with walking sticks to match. Food: Before hunger nationalised akpu [mpiko], Deltans ate [and still eat]: yam, plantain, starch, owo [ofune], banga [ofeku], fish. Marriage: Similar customs among Deltan communities. Those of the Ibos are different from ours. Dance: We all in Delta dance still dance [ekeneke].Burial rites: Similar burial rites in Delta State. We all do second burial. Ibo burial rites are different. Adultery: All Deltans [including our people] consider adultery as a very serious crime. The culprits [men and women] are thoroughly punished; rituals are performed for cleansing, and to appease the gods. The Ibos appear to be rather carefree. Their gods appear never to be in the mood to punish adulterers. Welcoming spirit: Deltans anywhere they live are more open and welcoming than the Ibos.

My brothers and sisters, do you really know the Ibos and their ways? They are self-eliminating; they go to any lengths to destroy even their kinsmen for money. Have you done any business with an Ibo man? If he did not cheat you, then God was on your side. I love the Ibos for their energy and industry, but I’ll hesitate to be in the same geopolitical zone with them. Our people cannot cope with their intrigues. 


The opinions and views expressed in this write-up are entirely those of the Writer(s). They do not reflect the opinions and views of the Publisher (Nze Ikay Media) or any of its employees. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay Media) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are gotten from the public domain.

Nigeria is an Enigma. The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of her is undoubtedly God’s endowment to us, her citizens. As a citizen of this lovely nation, I’ve spent decades of my life trying to understand this, Mirage. Hope someday, this Mystery that houses about 250 million blacks will be globally understood, widely accepted, and given the opportunity to play its vital role in the world stage. So, help us God! #NigeriaDeservesBetter #AfricaDeservesBetter

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