I Am More Igbo Than Ned Nwoko—Anioma-Southeast Contraption a Political Scam Dead on Arrival

I Am More Igbo Than Ned Nwoko—Anioma-Southeast Contraption a Political Scam Dead on Arrival

Although several prominent Anioma interest-groups and personalities have defined their opposing positions against Senator Ned Abdullahi Munir Nwoko’s solo, wretched and narcissistic Anioma State creation mission, I have waited for the ultimate opinion of our revered traditional rulers, which consequently was delivered recently.

What most people don’t know is that unlike Southeast States, among Anioma people the opinion of the traditional rulers which often originate from the people through their ancestral heirlooms stand above the opinions of our mostly fraudulent political leaders.

 In other words, Anioma traditional rulers through their customary network of consultations with the people hold the ace in such matter as the creation of Anioma State. Senator Nwoko did not consider our traditional rulers noteworthy in this regard.

However, the cautious yet pungent position of our revered traditional rulers in their recent meeting over Senator Nwoko’s solo vainglorious political promenade clearly spoke the minds of Anioma people without the least equivocation.

In part of their five-point communiqué signed jointly by the Chairman, His Majesty Obi of Owa Kingdom, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor 11, and Vice Chairman, Obi of Ubulu-Unor, His Majesty Dr. Henry Kikachukwu 1, the revered Royal Fathers subtly hit Senator Nwoko, who incidentally was present in the meeting as uninvited observer, below the belt in the following words:

“We should stop washing our dirty linings in public. Senator Ned Nwoko, who is representing Delta North in the National Assembly and other elected representatives of the people, political class and other critical stakeholders should work together and engage the people to know what they want, rather than embark on what is perceived as personal aggrandizement.”

In their recent letter addressed to Senator Nwoko dated 26th June, 2024 and signed by Elder Daniel Usifoh, Head, Collective Leadership of Onu Ika Nigeria, (HCL); Chief (Barrister) Edwin Osuhor, 1st Vice President; and Major Gen Ephraim O. Usiade ( rtd) General Secretary; the apex Ika-speaking organization “Onu Ika” emphatically rejected Senator Nwoko’s clandestine Bill on Anioma State.

In paragraph (2) of their position they stated unequivocally:

“Secondly, in the annals of State creation in Nigeria; there have not been any attempt to lump two areas naturally (geographical boundaries) separated together as one State or part thereof. To do that will amount to ANNEXATION; the Ikas are not willing to be Annexed to South East across the River Niger but would gladly like to be reintegrated into the old Midwestern Region.”

They went further in paragraph (3) to state in part:

“We are aware that there are ethnic minorities in other major Tribes/ethnic groups in Nigeria. To classify a geographical area as part of a State mainly on account of language is, in our considered opinion, grossly and linguistically misleading and unacceptable.

Hence the Ikas unequivocally reject Senator Ned Nwoko’s Proposed Bill to “Annex” Ika Ethnic Nationality to a Section of Eastern Region across River Niger. The Ikas from oral and recorded history have triple origins—Bini, Ishan and Ibo – Nri factor.”

Earlier, the Ikoro Agbor, the apex socio-cultural and development organization of Agbor Kingdom had in an open letter to the Senate President against Senator Nwoko’s presumptuous and self-conceited mission distanced themselves from him. They pointed out emphatically:

“That the mandate of Senator Ned Nwoko, representative of Delta north in the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does not include any permission to railroad or bond the Delta north or Anioma people to a political union with southeastern Nigeria without the democratic consent of the people expressed in a referendum.”

On their own part, the Ndokwa-speaking group under the aegis of Ndokwa Neku Union (NNU), in a statement dated June 26, 2024 and signed jointly by the President-General General Mike Ndubisi (rtd) and Secretary General Mr. Chukwuemeka Ojione, has not only distanced their people from Senator Nwoko’s Anioma State project but described such project as political wild-goose chase.

Meanwhile, the Ndokwa Renaissance has threatened to initiate recall process for Senator Nwoko if he fails to withdraw the said obnoxious Bill from the Senate. In a resolution signed by its President, Mr. Chinedu Egbenumolise and Secretary, Dr. Uti Onyeukwu, the group stated:

“We warned that if Senator Nwoko fails to withdraw his proposal, which is dangerously self-serving, undemocratic and unconstitutional, we will be left with no option but to institute legal action to compel him. We will mobilise the people of Delta North Senatorial District to recall Senator Ned Nwoko as our representative at the Senate.

Delta North had been an integral part of the South-South from the colonial era to date and wondered why the lawmaker would want the peaceful and progressive Anioma land to be made part of the South-East where violent agitation for secession has heightened insecurity.”

The foregoing positions adopted by the customary representatives of Anioma people through their traditional rulers, including Ika and Ndokwa people, which by extension remain the collective position of Aniocha/Oshimili people, clearly underscore Senator Nwoko’s political infantilism laced with feudo-Islamic authoritarian mentality.

As a Muslim Senator Nwoko had erroneously categorized Anioma people as sheepish political followers in the manner of the Muslim North where a politician commands and the people follow like cattle.

So, Senator Alhaji Ned Abdullahi Munir Nwoko therefore can neither claim to be the political face of Anioma people nor the decider of their political fate. He cannot even pretend to be so among his Idumuje-Ugboko town, Idumuje Clan and the wider Aniocha North Local Government Area.

 His political antecedent penultimate his fraudulent election to the Senate is fraught with inundation of obnoxious political showmanship.

While I was languishing in Cell-One at State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Headquarters, Enugu, for three months for standing up against Gen Sani Abacha’s anti-Igbo policy at University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Ned Nwoko was masquerading as United Kingdom-based lawyer and immigration consultant to Gen Sani Abacha’s regime in which he clandestinely served as General Sani Abacha’s informant charged with locating and sabotaging members of NADECO and other opponents of the regime in United Kingdom.

That was how he made his initial money and, through Chief James Ibori’s patronage contested election for the Federal House of Representatives in 1999.

Senator Nwoko represented Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency from 1999 to 2003 and his only legacy as a federal legislator was a legacy of political thuggery as summed up by the Champion newspaper Editorial of May 14, 2002:

“Leader of the “anti-Speaker” group Hon. Ned Nwoko (Delta) was knocked down as he made an attempt to seize the mace from the “sergeant at Arms.” Specifically, he physically attempted to obstruct the processing of the sergeant at arms after his group had kicked against the manner in which the House was hurriedly adjourned on the fateful Wednesday.

Hon. Nwoko, who was wrestled to the ground by the vigilant pro-Na’Abba legislators, was abandoned by his allies in the House,] who deserted him when the going became rough.”

Senator Peter Nwoboshi knows that my relationship with him has not always been rosy, but in spite of all epithet of demonization against him from the likes of Ned Nwoko and his cohorts, Senator Nwoboshi remains an all-round achiever as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He single-handedly sponsored the NNDC Amendment Bill and through his astute legislative lobbying capability succeeded in seeing it signed into law. In the case of Ned Nwoko, it is a harvest of twenty Legislative Bills that never went beyond their first readings.

In the ensuing controversy over Senator Nwoko’s unilateral decision to lump proposed Anioma State into the Southeast without consultations, we should not conflict ethnic identity with group-interests driven by political expediency; or ethnicity with language-group. I need not go into the details of these differing ethno-linguistic and historical concepts here for the reasons of scope and political expediency.

The point however should be emphasized, especially to those with limited scope of knowledge in these concepts that it is not in all cases that language defines ethnicity. This is because one can be an Igbo by historical definition without being an Igbo-speaker.

 For instance, many people who claim Igbo ethnic identity in Diaspora, pitiably including some younger ones in Nigeria, do not speak Igbo language, yet their Igbo ethnicity cannot be disputed.

In the same manner, one can be an Igbo-speaker without being a historical Igbo by ethnic definition. Take the Southeast for instance. Nzam the Headquarters of Anambra West Local Government Area is an Igala town. The people know they are historically of Igala origin by ethnic definition even though by political definition they are classified as Igbo.

In Enugu State, Ette in Igboeze North Local Government Area, and the towns of Ogboli Clan in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area which include, Adani, Ojo, Iga, Asaba and Ogurugu, define themselves primarily as Igala by ethnic identity even though they speak Igbo and mostly bear Igbo names.

 In Ebonyi State, Ntezi town still maintains a distinct ethnic identity and language even though the people are classified as Igbo in general term.

Let us even take Senator Nwoko’s Aniocha North Local Government Area as an example. The Local Government Area is made up of three clans, none of which claim historical Igbo origin.

This includes Ezechima Clan made up of Obior, Onicha-Ugbo, Onicha-Ukwu, Obomkpa, Onicha-Olona, Ezi, Issele-Uku, Issele-Azagba, and Issele-Mkpitime, who claim Benin origin; the Idumuje Clan made up of Idumuje-Uno, Idumuje-Ugboko (Senator Nwoko’s hometown), and Aniofu, who claim Esan (Ishan) origin; and the Odiani (Olukwunmi) Clan, made up of Ugbodu, Ukwunzu, Ubulubu, Ugboba, Ogodor, and Idumuogo, who remain Yoruba by every ethnic definition.

This was how the Obi (King) of Ukwu-Nzu His Majesty, Obi Christopher Ogoh 1 described the Yoruba origin of his town:

 “Ukwu-Nzu is an ancient town that has existed since 1100 AD. The founder of Ukwu-Nzu, Ugbe settled here after migrating from Ife in the days of Oduduwa who gave out his last son Oramiyan to be the first Oba of Benin kingdom.

A man known as Ugbe and some of those that accompanied Oramiyan to Benin kingdom for his coronation later migrated to Ukwu-Nzu and from there to other Olukumi speaking towns.

They were seven people including three princes from Ife in present day Osun State of Nigeria through Benin in Edo State. So, we can say that, Ugbe was the founder of Ukwu-Nzu community in Aniocha North LGA of Delta State.”

This explains why in academic research the broader terms “Igbo-speaking”, “Yoruba-speaking” and “Edo-speaking” peoples, are mostly used, instead of “Igbo”, “Yoruba”, or “Edo” People. Among the Edo-speaking people today we have the Bini, Esan, Etsako, Owan, Urhobo, and Isoko.

Similarly, among the Yoruba-people we have the Yoruba proper, who are the Oyo dialect native speakers, other Yoruba-speaking groups in the Southwest geopolitical region, Kogi State, Kwara State, Olukwunmi and Itsekiri of Delta State, Anago of Benin and Togo Republics, and the Aku of Sierra Leone.

If one understands the ethno-historical dynamics of the Igbo society from this intellectual angle, the contest over one group denying their Igbo identity, while speaking Igbo language should not arise. For instance, the Ikwerre, Ika, and Ndokwa can deny their Igbo identity, but their ethnicity remains in ethno-historical terms Igbo-speaking. Our Edo, Ijaw and Itsekiri neighbors know and define Anioma people as Ndigbo; just as many Igbo-speaking communities in Edo State and Urhoboland are defined respectively as Edo and Urhobo people.

Oftentimes what matters in identity construction is what people call you and not fundamentally what you call yourself. Most original names of towns were not given by the natives but outsiders; just as everyone is given a mane without his consent.

Any Olukwunmi person with his Igbo names as in the case of the former Captain of the Golden Eaglets Nduka Ugbade from Yoruba-speaking Ugbodu in Igboland, who travels to Yorubaland, is defined firsthand as Igbo.

Indeed, it will take an extra moment for such a person to explain to his Yoruba host that he is a Yoruba man and not an Igbo man.

For us in Anioma land therefore, we know our respective origins even though we all speak Igbo and, we dully respect such boundaries of our diverse origins. It is therefore amusing to see non-Anioma natives attempting to obscure this fact by assuming because we all speak Igbo; we should therefore be added to the Southeast geopolitical zone even without our collective consent.

Demand for State creation is more of a matter of political expediency than ethnic identity. There are a lot in attitudinal, socio-cultural, political and psycho-historical identities that bind Anioma people with their non-Igbo Edo and Delta neighbors which commonality of Igbo language cannot unbind and, which our kinsmen from the Southeast will not understand.

 Are Anioma people agitating for State because they are discriminated in Delta State? No! Are Anioma people agitating for State because they are oppressed in Delta State? No! This is where political expediency arises.

I state this as a full-blooded Igbo man with notable and definable historical root in Igboland east of the Niger, more than Senator Nwoko and many of those shouting from the pinnacle of historical ignorance in the Southeast geopolitical region. I am Igbo not just in name but in action driven by sacrificial zeal; and this has been proven over time.

Indeed, if there is anyone who should champion the inclusion of Anioma in the Southeast, if it is desirable and practicable, I should be the one. But it is neither desirable for the reason of political expediency nor practicable for the reasons of historical and multicultural impediments.

What is expedient for the Southeast in the matter of new State creation, is the collective advancement of the already existing three demands—Adada, Etiti, which was indeed approved by 2004 National Conference, and the wobbling Orlu State.

Leaving these laudable demands to invade the South-South geopolitical zone in search of Igbo-speaking State as alternative amounts to not just clandestine ethnic imperialism and indigestible selfishness, but is likened to a man trying to pick a cricket with his foot while carrying an elephant on his head.

I am proudly a native of Delta State of Nigeria of unadulterated Igbo extraction from South-South geopolitical zone. I am proud to have been a Midwesterner, a Bendelite, and now a Deltan. And if Anioma State is created tomorrow I will work to make it remain part of South-South geopolitical zone and no other geopolitical zone.

I am therefore in finality proud to remain a South-South Igbo by aggregate geopolitical definition of the present Nigerian State.

By definition of Igbo nativity, I am proudly an Isu by Igbo subcultural delineation and Ibusa (Igbuzo) my hometown of origin has never denied her Igbo identity. The original founders of Ibusa trace their origins to the core-indigenes (Natives) of the present Uruagu Quarters of Nnewi, in Anambra State, precisely the present Isu Village.

 Our ancestors were the original owners of the present Nnewi town before much of the present population began to settle from somewhere else. Nnewi tradition will often tell you that Isu is Okpala-Nnewi (Isu is the traditional head of Nnewi people).

Thus, the people of Ibusa have more ancestral claims to the present Nnewi town than most of the people claiming her aboriginality today.

 So, I am more Igbo than most of those ethnic braggarts from the Southeast geopolitical zone who don’t even know their history but would want to tell other people their history.

To those who might be ignorant of those who are the Isu in Igboland, it is instructive to let them be properly informed that Isu people were one of the earliest inhabitants of Igboland and indeed the most widely spread across the six geo-cultural zones of Igboland, namely: Northern Igbo, Eastern Igbo (Ogu-Ukwu), Southeastern Igbo (Cross River Igbo), Southern Igbo, Riverine Igbo, and Western Igbo.

The highest concentration of Isu people are found in the present Imo State; particularly in Isu, Njaba, Nkwerre, Nwangele, and Orlu Local Government Areas, as well as Isu-Obiangwu in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area. In Abia State, you find them in Isu/Ikwuato Local Government Area made up of Imenyi, Isu-Amawu, Ogudu-Asaa, and Uturu; Nne-Ochi Local Government Area (Isuochi and her neighbors), and the Isu, Ihechiowa and Ututu Clans of Arochukwu Local Government Area.

In Anambra State, in addition to Nnewi North Local Government Area, the Isu are found in Oba in Idemili North Local Government Area, Isulo in Orumba North Local Government Area, Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area, Achalla-Isuana and Isu-Aniocha in Awka North Local Government Area, and the Ogbe group of communities which include, Anaku in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State, Umueze-Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area and, notable villages in Nsugbe in Anambra East Local Government Area.

 In Enugu State, notable Isu communities include Okpoho in Ezeagu Local Government Area; Ugbo (Ogulugu), Amoli, Ogbaku, Agbudu-Isu and Isu-Awa, Isu-Uga in Awgu Local Government Area; and Isu in Isiuzo (Isu-Uzo) Local Government Area. In Ebonyi State notable Isu towns include Isu and Isinkwo (Isu-Nkwo) in Onicha Local Government Area.

In Delta State, in addition to Ibusa and Okpanam in Oshimili North Local Government Area earlier mentioned, other Isu communities include Achalla-Ibusa, Achalla Quarters in Akwukwu-Igbo, Oshimili North Local Government Area; Okwe and, Oko-Amakom in Oshimili South Local Government Area; Ishiagu, Ewulu, Umuidiage Quarters of Ejeme-Aniogor, and Ogbe Odafe Village in Ogwashi Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area; Umuoshomi Quarters in Onicha-Ugbo, Aniocha North Local Government Area; Isumpe Village in Utagba Uno, Ndokwa West Local Government Area; and Uchi in Ndokwa East Local Government Area.

As an unrepentant Igbo man, there are two trajectories of nationalism that dictates the pendulum of my political vibration in Nigeria today. Number one is my ethnic identity as Igbo. Number two is my religious identity as Christian.

And I wish to state without equivocation that within these two trajectories of political force majeure there are few people in Igboland today whose lives have been as strongly patriotic, deeply selfless and rigorously devoted to the collective cause of the Igbo ethnic nation in Nigeria as mine.

From my hometown Ibusa through University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to several Igbo interest-groups nationally and in Lagos State in particular and, back to the position I find myself today, more than half of my present life span has been devoted not to pursuit of worldly self-aggrandizement like most of my contemporaries, or sabotaging collective Igbo interests for money like many Igbo leaders of today, but to the cause of Igbo emancipation without geopolitical bounds and without any selfish intent or obligated recompense. I again stand to be challenged.

As an undergraduate at University of Nigeria, Nsukka during the era when nation-wide student demonstrations were greeted with heinous destruction of University property, I was invited by the then Vice Chancellor Prof Chimere Ikoku through the Dean of Faculty of Arts Prof Edith Ihekweazu and the Associate and later substantive Dean, Prof Benson Oluikpe to advise the University administration on the ways and means of aborting the 1987 nationwide student demonstrations from taking place at our university.

The result was the founding of Operation-Zero-Option (OZO) with Obinna Uche (Udojiagu) from Arondizuogu, Imo State (Department of Biochemistry); Obasi Igwe from Akaeze, Ebonyi State (Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages); T. O. C. Okunna from Ukpo, Anambra State (Department of Archaeology and Tourism); and Okey Nwankwo from Nibo, Anambra State (Faculty of Pharmacy), as co-leaders. Five of us confronted in a suicidal manner and dispersed a riotous demonstration of more than two thousand students in the night at Eni Njoku Hostel under five minutes.

As leader of Igbo People’s Congress (IPC) working in concert with Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) led by Dr. Faseun in Lagos State between 1999 and 2005, I defended and protected collective Igbo interests; stopping OPC harassment of Ndigbo, wading into market and traditional disputes; including acting as ombudsman for Ndigbo with various problems in Lagos State.

 I originated the proposal for the appointment of Ndigbo into the Lagos State Government Executive Council under Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Except for those close to me at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, majority of the people until recently never knew I am from Delta State; rather assumptions over my nativity had dilated between Anambra and Abia States.

Indeed, when I approved the transfer of an Anambra State lady from Abatete from Nnamdi Azikiwe Library to Centre for Igbo Studies as a Research Fellow in my capacity as Director of Centre for Igbo Studies, the allegation from some staff of Nnamdi Azikiwe Library was that I was only being nepotistic as Anambra man.

But when I similarly approved the transfer of Mr. John Odo from Nsukka to the same Centre for Igbo Studies after his rejection by the Department of Archaeology and Tourism following his recall from suspension, the issue of my coming from Anambra State or being related to Anambra State did not arise.

I was a foundation-member of Ala-Igbo Foundation under the erudite scholar and Emeritus Professor Timothy Uzodinma Nwala, precisely from Mbaise, Imo State, under whose direction the organization produced and presented an edited two-volume compendium on Igbo history, politics, culture and economy in which I contributed two chapters.

Until my recent exile, I was Director of Public Affairs to World Igbo Summit Group with the sublime-mannered Major General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) as Chairman, and which so far has the greatest gathering of well-refined and dignified Igbo leaders and patriots across political, traditional, economic, intellectual, military and, religious spectra of authorities more than any Igbo group.

I was indeed the least among Anioma presence in the said elevated cathedral of Igbo gathering. The late hero of the Nigerian civil war and Biafran battlefield tactician, Col Joseph Achuzia was at the head of Anioma presence in the World Igbo Summit Group. He was followed by the erudite Prof Pat Utomi and the legendary youthful legal luminary Prof Epiphany Azinge.

Ironically, it was at World Igbo Summit Group that the campaign for Igbo Presidency was initiated; and it was at the same World Igbo Summit Group that Chief Anyim Pius Anyim was invited to deliver a speech in which Anioma and Igbo of Rivers State were excluded from contesting the Presidency under the aegis of Igbo ethnic group.

It was further from that point that the Elder Statesman Chief Edwin Clark was commissioned to lead the campaign against the inclusion of Anioma among authentic Igbo people qualified to contest the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This is one of the unresolved issues of sentimental Igbo unity between the Igbo of the Southeast and the Igbo of the South-South that renders any assumption of inclusion of Anioma into the Southeast politically untenable. Person wey dey cry dey see with him eye.

By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD, Odogwu of Ibusa is the President, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN). He can be reached on Email: Nwaezeigwe.genocideafrica@gmail.com Visit us at https://icac-gen.org for more news and your financial support

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