Monday, 29th May 2023

Anioma, the bias, imbalance in states creation

By Eric Teniola
26 October 2022   |   2:42 am
If the bar on the creation of new states, as contained in our 1979 and 1999 Presidential Constitutions had been lowered, Anioma could have become a state by now. And not part of Delta state.

1999 Constitution

If the bar on the creation of new states, as contained in our 1979 and 1999 Presidential Constitutions had been lowered, Anioma could have become a state by now. And not part of Delta state.

Likewise, Ijebu, Ijesha, Okun which comprises of Mopa, Ogidi, Ayetoro Gbede, Okedayo, Odo Ere, Ife, Egbe, Iyara, Iyamoye, Odoape, Ekinrin-Adde, Kabba, Isanlu, Obajana, Ikoyi, Agbaja, as well as other states, could have been created, by now. Anioma means “Good Land” in the Igbo language.

Mineral resources identified in Anioma include large deposits of gas at Okpai and Ndokwa. Dominant industry in Anioma is education, hence the first teachers’ training institute in the Western Region of which the Anioma nation was part was in Ibusa in today’s Oshimili North local government area. If it had been created, Anioma could have become the sixth Igbo state.

Major towns and villages include Asaba, Agbor, Kwale, Oligbo, Ibrode, Ibusa, gbanke, Igbodo, Igbuku, Illah, Isa-Ogwashi, Iselegu, Isheagu, Isikiti-Ishiagu, Issele-Azagba, Issele-Mkpitime, Issele-Uku, Isumpe, Kwale, Mbiri, Ndemiri,  Ndokwa, Abbi, Inam-Abbi, Eziunm, Nkpolenyi, Nsukwa, Obeti, Obi Anyima, Obi Umutu, Obi, Obiaruku, Obikwele, Obinumba, Obior, Obodo-Eti, Obomkpa, Ogbe, Ogode, Ogume, Ogwashi-Uku, Oko Anala, Oko/Ogbele, Oko-Amakom, Okotomi, Okpa, Okpanam, Okwe, Oligbo, Oligbo, Olor-Usisa, Olu-Odu, Omaja,  Onicha Olona, etc.

Outstanding men and women like Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu (26 February 1937- 29 July 1967), Chief Dennis Chukude Osadebay (29 June 1911 — 26 December 1994), Chief Ogoegbuname Idise Dafe (1928 to 1981), Chief Jim Ovia(70), Chief Nduka Obaigbena (63), Chief Tony Elumelu, Nduka Irabor, General Alaba Isama (rtd.), Mitchell Obi, Nduka Otionu, Ambassador Joe Keshi, Chris Okolie, General Fred Chijuka(rtd.), Colonel Trimnel, Major Okonkwo, Chief Sunny Odogwu, Nduka Eze, Godwin Emefiele, Colonel Igboba, Professor Fideli Odia, Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie, Bode Bernard, Admiral Dele Ezeoba, Ambassador Ralph Uwechei, Dame Winnie Akpani, Dr. Austin Izagbo, Epipany Azinge(SAN), Frank Nwachukwu Ndili, Ike Nwamu, Emma Nyra Joseph Udeh, Maryam Babangida, General Lucky Irabor, Alex Iwobi, Professor Joseph Chike Edozien, Professor Patrick Utomi, Zulu Sofola, Sam Obi, Austine “Jay-Jay”Okocha, Nduka Odizor, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lisa Omorodion, Ned Nwoko, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Demas Nwoko, Faze, Chief Phillip Asiodu, Emmanuel Ibe Kachukwu, Joseph “Hannibal” Achuzie, Sunday Oliseh, Ifeanyi Okowa, Joy Ogwu and others too numerous to mention, are all from Anioma.

The struggle for the creation of Anioma state started a long time ago but it became more vocal in 1980. And men like Senator Nosike Ikpo (1933-2021) championed the cause for the creation of Anioma state. At that time, what could be referred to Anioma comprised four Local Governments namely Ika, Oshimili, Aniocha and Ndokwa.

Now the four local governments comprise nine local governments namely Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika south, Ika North-East, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South and Ukwuani.

Senator Ikpo was born on March 21, 1933, in Ibusa. He was educated at the St. Thomas School, Ibusa. He was a teacher, later bank clerk, representative, Longman, administrator, British Council, Company Director, elected Senator, 1979-1983, re-elected Senator, October-December, 1983; member, Action Group, 1958-1966, member, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), 1979-1983, administrative Secretary, UPN, 1979-1983, Chief Organisation Secretary, UPN, old Bendel state branch until 1983; member, National Party of Nigeria, March-December 1983.

The people of Anioma are well-educated. Long before Mid West region was created in June 1963, they benefitted from the free education programme of Chief Obafemi Awolowo GCFR (6 March 1909- 9 May 1987) when they were part of the Western Region and thereafter when they became part of Mid Western region.

It was during one of the several lunches that I had with Senator Ikpo at the National Assembly Canteen in 1979 that I first heard of the name Anioma.

ALADINMA was first proposed as the capital of Anioma state but reasons prevailed on Senator Ikpo’s committee and were later persuaded to make Asaba the capital of the proposed state. This was long before General Ibrahim Babangida endorsed Asaba as the capital of Delta state.

Although Asaba is a very expensive city now Asaba years ago, between 1886 and 1900, hosted the Royal Niger Company, which the British authorities set up to stimulate trade and the exportation of goods to England. That company has grown today into UAC Nigeria PLC.

Scottish explorer William B. Balkie, when signing a trade treaty with Igbo chief Ezebogo in Asaba on 30 August 1885, remarked “After our salutations, I speak of friendship, of trade, and of education, and particularly enlarged upon the evils of war, and the benefits of peace”, all of which was well received.

If Anioma state has been created, Asaba port could have become functional by now.

People used to refer to that area as Mid-West Ibo or later Bendel Ibo. Senator Ikpo then lectured me that it was uncharitable to refer to his people as Mid West Ibo or Bendel Ibo. He explained that they were Igbos of the same identity as the Anambra and Imo states.

When Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari GCFR (25 February 1925 – 28 December 2018), took over from General Olusegun Obasanjo (85) GCFR on October 1, 1979, he was handed a Presidential Constitution that did not favour the creation of more states and local governments in the country.

If you look at Section 8 of the 1979 Constitution, you will discover that it will be impossible to create new states. That was the way the military wanted it.

The Section states “ An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if—- (a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely—-(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; (b) a proposal for the creation of the Senate is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated; (c) the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly, and (d) the proposal is approved by a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of members of each House of Assembly.

To be continued tomorrow