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Anioma State represents revolutionary justice: Emmanuel Onwubiko



The ongoing quest for the creation of Anioma State, championed by Senator Ned Nwoko and supported by the Anioma people, is not merely a political ambition but a profound aspiration rooted in decades of historical, socio-cultural, and political consciousness.

This movement is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Anioma ethnic nationality, which includes the Aniocha, Ndokwa, Ika, and Oshimili people. The creation of Anioma State is not only a fulfillment of a long-standing dream but also a significant step towards justice, unity, and reconciliation in Nigeria.

The agitation for Anioma State predates the creation of the Midwest, Bendel, and Delta States. It emerged during the colonial era, particularly within the Western region of Nigeria. Prominent figures such as Chief Dennis Osadebay, Sen. Nosike Ikpo, Ambassador Raph Uwechue, Chief Humphrey Iwerebor, Prof. B.I.C. Ijeomah, Prof. Chike Edozien, and Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor were instrumental in the initial advocacy for Anioma State. Their efforts laid the groundwork for the current movement, demonstrating the deep-rooted desire for self-determination and better representation.

The Anioma people share a rich cultural heritage, language, and traditions with their Igbo counterparts. Over 70% of Anioma communities trace their ancestry to the Igbo cradle of Nri. This shared history underscores the importance of recognizing Anioma as an integral part of the Igbo nation and, by extension, the broader Eastern region of Nigeria. According to Elizabeth Isichei, a New Zealand author, historian, and academic, the Anioma people have always been a bridge between the Igbo and other ethnic groups in Nigeria, contributing to the country’s diversity and unity.

Creating Anioma State is essential for several reasons:

Political Representation and Equity: The South-East region of Nigeria currently has fewer states compared to other regions. This imbalance has resulted in political and economic marginalization. Anioma State would address this inequity by ensuring better representation and resource allocation for the people of Delta North and the broader South-East region. Political scientist Okechukwu Ibeanu argues that equitable state creation is crucial for Nigeria’s stability and development.

Cultural Preservation and Identity: The Anioma people have a distinct cultural identity that needs to be preserved and promoted. A state of their own would provide a platform for the promotion of their unique heritage, traditions, and values. The Anioma people’s cultural festivals, traditional dances, and languages are treasures that should be nurtured and celebrated.

Historical Justice and Reconciliation: The creation of the Anioma State is a vital step towards addressing the historical injustices and atrocities suffered by the Anioma people, particularly during the Nigerian Civil War. The 1967 Asaba Massacre, where hundreds of Anioma civilians were brutally murdered by federal troops, is a stark reminder of the need for justice and reconciliation.

Revisiting the Asaba Massacre:

The Asaba Massacre of 1967 is one of the darkest chapters in Nigerian history. On October 7, 1967, federal troops, under the command of Col. Murtala Muhammed, carried out a horrific massacre of Anioma civilians in Asaba. Men and boys were separated from their families, lined up, and shot in cold blood. The streets of Asaba were littered with corpses, and the town was left in ruins.

Survivors of the massacre, such as Ify Uraih and Martina Osaji, have recounted the horrors they witnessed. Their testimonies highlight the brutality of the federal troops and the deep scars left on the Anioma community. Despite these atrocities, the Anioma people have remained steadfast in their commitment to a united Nigeria. The creation of Anioma State would be a significant step towards acknowledging their sacrifices and addressing the historical injustices they have endured.

According to historian Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian Civil War and events like the Asaba Massacre have left deep wounds in the national psyche. He argues that addressing these historical injustices is crucial for healing and reconciliation. The Anioma people’s resilience and commitment to Nigeria’s unity, despite their suffering, exemplify the spirit of reconciliation that the country needs.

In light of the historical and cultural significance of Anioma State, it is imperative that all stakeholders, including politicians, traditional leaders, and ordinary citizens, support this noble cause. Detractors who view the move as opportunistic or premature should reconsider their stance and recognize the legitimacy and urgency of the Anioma people’s aspirations.

Senator Ned Nwoko’s advocacy for Anioma State is not an act of opportunism but a continuation of the efforts initiated by past Anioma leaders. His foresight and commitment to this cause deserve commendation and support from all true sons and daughters of Anioma. It is essential to recognize that the creation of the Anioma State is not just about political boundaries; it is about acknowledging the unique identity and aspirations of the Anioma people.

The creation of Anioma State has broader implications for Nigeria as a whole. It is a step towards achieving true federalism and ensuring equitable representation for all ethnic nationalities. It would also serve as a model for addressing historical injustices and promoting reconciliation and unity in a diverse nation.

General Gowon’s post-Civil War policy of Reconciliation, Reintegration, and Rebuilding aimed to heal the wounds of the war and foster national unity. The establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was one such initiative designed to promote understanding and cooperation among Nigeria’s diverse ethnic groups. Similarly, the creation of Anioma State would be a tangible manifestation of these principles, contributing to the healing and unity of the nation.

Political analyst Jibrin Ibrahim has emphasized the importance of addressing historical grievances to achieve national unity. Creating an Anioma State would be a significant step towards acknowledging the sacrifices of the Anioma people and promoting a sense of belonging and justice.

The current administration, under President Bola Tinubu, and the 10th National Assembly have a historic opportunity to achieve this milestone. By supporting the creation of Anioma State, they would be honoring the legacy of General Gowon’s 3Rs—Reconciliation, Reintegration, and Rebuilding—and contributing to the long-term stability and unity of Nigeria.

Historian Max Siollun, in his book “Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture,” highlights the importance of political will and visionary leadership in addressing Nigeria’s complex challenges. The creation of Anioma State would be a testament to such leadership, demonstrating a commitment to justice and equity.

The quest for Anioma State is a just and noble cause that deserves the support of all Nigerians. It is a necessary step towards addressing historical injustices, promoting cultural identity, and ensuring equitable political representation. As we continue to advocate for Anioma State, let us remember the sacrifices of the past and work towards a future where justice, unity, and reconciliation prevail.

The creation of Anioma State is not just about political boundaries; it is about acknowledging the unique identity and aspirations of the Anioma people. It is about recognizing their historical contributions and addressing the injustices they have endured. By supporting the creation of Anioma State, we are taking a significant step towards building a more inclusive, just, and united Nigeria.

In the words of Wole Soyinka, “History matters. Records matter. They inspire and guide; they instruct and warn.” Let us heed the lessons of history and work together to actualize the dream of Anioma State, a dream that is not only for the Anioma people but for the entire Nigerian nation.

The Anioma people’s resilience and unwavering commitment to a united Nigeria, despite the historical injustices they have faced, exemplify the spirit of reconciliation and unity that the country needs. By creating Anioma State, we would be acknowledging their sacrifices, promoting justice, and contributing to the long-term stability and unity of Nigeria.

In conclusion, the creation of Anioma State is a revolutionary step towards justice, unity, and reconciliation. It is an opportunity to right historical wrongs, promote cultural identity, and ensure equitable political representation. Let us all join hands and support this noble cause, for the benefit of Anioma, the South-East region, and Nigeria as a whole.


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