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June 22, 2024

Give me Anioma State, by Emeka Obasi

Give me Anioma State, by Emeka Obasi

Nothing lasts forever, for blood is thicker than water. While Africans continue to suffer the consequences of the 1884 Berlin Conference that balkanised the continent in favour of Imperial Europe, there are worse cases created by the black man.

In 1967, Gen. Yakubu Gowon further balkanised Nigeria by creating twelve new states after the Eastern Region pulled out of the country. It was an attempt to disorganise the new Republic of Biafra under Col. Emeka Ojukwu.

Those who advised Gowon wanted to fling the Igbo across different divides. Some were dumped in Rivers State, many found themselves changing from Midwestern Region to Midwest State, a few were relocated to South – Eastern and Benue Plateau States.

Losing the war had monumental effects because the Igbo, unlike the other groups in the former Eastern Region, were pauperized by deliberate government policies which were coated in many sweet smelling colours tagged ‘ No Victor, No Vanquished’.

Those Igbo who survived the war, were also forced to survive the peace. And to make ends meet, some of them pretended not to be Igbo. It worked fast, for they fed fat from the national cake. It is difficult to convince a hungry man to shy away from sumptuous meal.

However, the natural cord of affinity remained intact. The Igbo in Mid West State always looked across the River Niger, thinking of their kinsmen. Governor Samuel Ogbemudia, unknown to many, had pure red Igbo blood flowing in his veins.

Ogbemudia, with Igbanke ( Igbo Akiri ) paternal links offered scholarship to students from the East Central State, the new home of majority of the people who constituted the former Eastern Region. He also kicked against closing the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)

The effects of the Civil War are still with us. There has been suspicion on both sides of the Niger. Some in the Eastern part created one crazy term, ‘ Core Igbo’. Crazy because there is no proof that the Igbo man of Anambra State is more committed than the Igbo man from Delta.

Those who accuse Godwin Alabi-Isama, Cyril Iweze and Philip Asiodu of fighting for Nigeria do not remember that   Ukpabi Asika and Ike Nwachukwu was also on the Federal side. A closer observation reveals that their support was circumstantial.

Alabi – Isama from Ikilibi, in the Ndokwa area of Delta State, was born of an Ilorin mother and actually joined the Army in 1960 as a Northerner. Nwachukwu, from Ovim, in Abia State, had a Katsina mother, that is why he bears Omar Sanda as other names.

It is on record that Asika, hate him or like him, did so much, as Administrator, trying to build the East Central State. He brought the Biafran scientists together under PRODA, supported Enugu Rangers, offered scholarships through Exchange Programmes and had a well packaged cabinet that included Flora Nwakuche, Sam Ikoku, Ukwu I. Ukwu, Magnus Adiele and Martin Elechi.

Back to the Igbo of Delta State. They want to join their people across the Niger. I am glad men like Ifeanyi Okowa, Ned Nwoko and Ndudi Elumelu are proud to be identified as Igbo. Now the attraction is Anioma State. Dr. Dennis Osadebe will be dancing in the spirit world.

During the 1979 elections, the Igbo of Anioma stood with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigerian Peoples Party, voting Joe Bardi as their senator. In the State House of Assembly, there was the vibrant Godwin Jideonwo who took the Ambrose Alli government to court for swearing in commissioners without the approval of honourable members, led by Benson Alegbe.

Zik knew the importance of the Anioma Igbo. During his party’s romance with President Shehu Shagari, the Owelle wanted Israel Amadi Emina to be nominated as minister, eventually the slot went to Prof. Emmanuel Osamor. Prof. Emmanuel Edozien became Special Adviser, Economic Affairs.

Personally, I will go for the creation of Anioma State, ahead of  Njaba State, which is also a wonderful idea, or Adada State. In the bid to restructure the country, Anioma should be part of the South – East Region.

When you talk of the Civil War, the Anioma played a huge role.  Biafra’s Chief of Naval Staff, Captain Wilfred Anuku, turned to an Army GOC when the seamen were rendered ineffective by Federal fighters. Col. Azum Asoya was the youngest General Officer Commanding.

Brigadiers Conrad Nwawo, Nduka Okwechime and Sylvanus Nwajei did their best. Joe Achuzia was a strong man although his methods were wrong. He made amends much later as Secretary General of the real Ohaneze. Ben Ochei was the last Biafran to be released.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala tells the true story. She is from Delta but married to an Abia man. This is what I call ‘CONNECTICUT’. Her father,

 Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, the first Nigerian Professor of Demography, was a Biafran One – Star general.

Frank Ndili, the first Nigerian Professor of Nuclear Physics, was Vice Chancellor of UNN. Some of his subordinates thought he was not Igbo enough. Garbage. They have to be reminded that the late Asagba of Asaba, Chike Edozien, first Nigerian Professor of Physiology was forced into exile with his wife, Modupe, granddaughter of Herbert Macaulay, by the Nigerian government.

Emma Okocha fought for Biafra and captured the Asaba Genocide in book form. Josephine Okwuekeleke Tolefe was the first female Nigeria Army officer, 1963. Asaba was capital of the Southern Protectorate in 1884. Anioma is a huge blessing to Ndigbo.