By Philip Elueme
It is an immutable fact that Aniomas (Delta state) are Igbos, including the Ikwere’s of Rivers State and all other groups with Igbo ancestry. There are incontrovertible, historical, cultural, cum legal documents, etc, to defend this assertion, despite denials by a few for whatever reasons. – A man’s ancestry defines his origin regardless of how much he may wish to deny that fact. – Truth remains constant and eternal.
Firstly, the highest socio-cultural, jurisprudential corporate body of the Igbo nation, registered in CAC, Abuja is Ohaneze Ndi Igbo. This is an immutable fact.
The Anioma area, etc, is recognized as Igbo constitutionally. This was why Ogwashi – Uku born late Ambassador Ralph Uwaechue was elected the President General of Ohaneze when by zoning principles as enshrined in the Ohaneze constitution, it was Aniomas’ turn to produce the President General; also Asaba born, late Col. ‘Hannibal’ Achuzia was the Ohaneze elected Secretary-General* at a time, as many other Anioma sons and daughters, including late Prof Tony Arinze then Ohaneze President, university of Port Harcourt chapter, have held and are still holding top executive positions in Ohaneze as authentic Ndi Igbo, historically, culturally, factually, and even ‘jurisprudentially’ Lady Madam ‘Rita’ Daniels, our Nollywood actress of note and current Woman leader of Ohaneze from Anioma falls into this category.
Secondly, at the formation of Ohaneze, in a meeting held at late Sir Akanu Ibiam’s Enugu residence, then Anioma foremost political leader, late Rt. Hon Osadebey was in the meeting representing Ndi Anioma as onye Igbo. Osadebey as onye Igbo of Anioma was Premier of Midwest Region while Akanu Ibiam was Premier of Eastern region at a time.
Thirdly, at the Ahajioku lecture series, an intellectual festival showcasing the very best of Igbo scholars – eg. Achebe, Afikpo, Nwabueze, Okigbo, etc. two Anioma sons, coincidentally Ndi Igbuzo were privileged to deliver lectures at the prestigious gathering of Igbo intellectuals as Ndi Igbo. Late sages, Prof Onwuejeogwu a renowned anthropologist and Prof Nnolue Emenanjo a renowned linguist* delivered the prestigious annual Ahajioku lectures in 1987 & 2001 respectively as authentic Ndi Igbo; an acknowledgement of Anioma Igbonness even by the very erudite, critical and “all- knowing, best brains of the Igbo race and civilization”
These facts tabled above are incontrovertible and historical despite vociferous denials by some revisionist historians.
As a matter of fact – only a few days ago – the revered traditional ruler of Owa in Ika North East, HRM. Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor hosted the traditional ruler of Nri in Anambra State, at his Owa Palace and during the parley he traced the origin of his people to Nri… as indeed many other Anioma communities have traced their ancestry to Igboland, Father be praised.
The fact of Anioma Igbo status was equally supported by the works of historical linguistics courtesy of the authoritative well-researched works of Late Prof Kay Williamson via, for instance, her 1987 University of Port Harcourt Convocation Inaugural lectures (I witnessed this lecture as a student in Uniport)…
The works of Prof Emenanjo regarded as the leading Igbo linguist of repute and many Anioma linguists corroborates the fact that Anioma Igbos speak a ‘sub-dialect of Igbo’ with some minor technical variations, in Ika & Ukwuani dialects.
This is scholarly attested to by an Ndokwa scholar, Ejimofor, and another lady scholar from Ika region, as indeed the outstanding work of the late Ika playright scholar, Prof Ukala denoting names in Ika Nation supports this linguistic approach also, etc.
Based on the incontrovertible facts enumerated above, despite stringent denials by some Anioma sons due to modernization crisis of identity flaws, the then fear of the negative effect of being labelled rebels during the Biafran war and it’s after effects, the case of late Prof Rev. Kunirun Osia a super minority Anioma son whose ancestors migrated from the Yoruba area, which influenced his judgment to deny Anioma Igboness; Ndi Aniomas are factually an Igbo race, the few instances of Ighala, Benin, Yoruba Urhobo/Isoko etc. influences notwithstanding…
Late Amb. Ralph Uwaechue was an elected Ohaneze’s President General, he was at a time the Biafran Ambassador to France, therefore any Anioma son or daughter can as an inalienable right use the Igbo slot to become Nigeria’s President if it is his destiny, and God willing!
•Elueme is an Abuja-based Anioma political analyst