By Dennis Agbo
People of Afikpo South local government area in Ebonyi state have demanded that the name of the council should be changed to Edda local government council, to reflect their true identity.
In a submission at the Enugu sitting of the Senate Committee on Constitution review, on Wednesday, Chairman and Secretary of Edda Identity Project, EDIP, Engr. Samuel Ndukwe and Mr Ikenna Emewu, respectively, on behalf of the socio-cultural group said that the name of their Council area was erroneously named through a military fiat when it was carved out from the old Afikpo local government area in1991.
In their petition, the EDIP group revealed that whereas so many LGAs in Nigeria, including Afikpo North, is made of several towns and clans of different people, the Afikpo South LGA (Edda) has a peculiarity of homogeneity, 100 per cent peopled by only the Edda Clan.
They lamented that instead of giving them their proper name, Edda, the military never consulted the people of Edda or even Afikpo prior to the naming for them to say what their LGA should be called and was dubbed Afikpo south.
The group submitted that because the LGA in question is listed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, “we write to ask that your distinguished Committee consider our petition to change the name of the Afikpo south LGA to Edda LGA.”
They recalled that in the past 29 years, the Edda Clan had mounted substantial pressure using legislation and public awareness to solicit for the name change, but that one hitch or the other stopped it from being conclusive.
“We sincerely hope this time, your distinguished committee would do us the great favour of concluding the process and effecting a final expected change. We place it on record that there is no better honour or favour the government of Nigeria would do the people of Edda than this name change.
“As a people, our identity is fast eroding into oblivion and we are becoming a lost clan. That is the worst thing we witness, that the identity handed us by our forebears and ancestors got lost in our watch by an error of a past government,” they pleaded.
They argued that even the governments in and of Nigeria from the colonial and post-Independence days always recognized them as Edda, recalling that the creation of Edda into an independent government entity dates back to 1950 when the then Eastern Region Local Government Ordinance No. 16 of 1950 created the Edda District Council.
“By another act of the government of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, in 1954 created the Edda County Council, an equivalent of the present LGA which took effect in May 1955. This existed with the headquarters at Nguzu Edda until the civil war. After the war, the system was abrogated for the Division local system and the erstwhile Edda County Council was joined to the Afikpo Division. It continued in Afikpo into 1976 when the LGA system incepted.
“In 1981/1982, the government of the old Imo State where we belonged under the watch of Governor Sam Mbakwe created LGAs that carved Edda out of the Afikpo LGA and was rightly called the Edda LGA. Unfortunately, in December 1983, the military interference truncated the government of Nigeria and eroded nationwide a lot of government institutions that had been put in place and took Edda back to the old Afikpo LGA”