Anioma State Best Alternative for Ndigbo


By Emmanuel Onwubiko

The debate surrounding the creation of new states in Nigeria is not new. For decades, marginalised regions have called for equitable management and distribution of resources to enhance the welfare of their people.

The call for Anioma State, championed by Senator Ned Nwoko, representing Delta North’s senatorial district, is a compelling proposal that seeks to address historical imbalances and promote fair representation, especially for the Southeast geopolitical zone.

Historically, the demand for Anioma State dates back to the 1950s, initiated by the people of Aboh and Asaba (Aniocha, Oshimili, and Ika) divisions in the Western Regional House of Assembly.

This long-standing agitation underscores the deep-rooted desire for recognition and self-determination among the Anioma people.

The creation of the Anioma State would not only honour this historical pursuit but also ensure the preservation and promotion of the unique cultural heritage of the Anioma people.

Throughout history, the Anioma people have consistently demonstrated resilience and unity in their quest for statehood. Their cultural festivals, such as the Iwa Ji (New Yam Festival) and the Igba Nkwu (Traditional Marriage Ceremony), reflect the rich traditions that bind the community together.

Establishing the Anioma State would provide a platform for these cultural practices to thrive and gain national recognition, fostering a sense of pride and identity among the Anioma people.

Nigeria’s current geopolitical structure is imbalanced, with the South East having only five states compared to other zones with six or more states.

This disparity affects legislative representation and resource allocation, which is disadvantageous to the South East.

Senator Nwoko’s proposal for Anioma State aims to correct this imbalance by adding a sixth state to the South East, thus ensuring fairer representation in the Senate and a more equitable distribution of national resources.

The creation of Anioma State would enhance the Southeast’s political influence, ensuring that the region’s interests are adequately represented at the federal level.

This adjustment would help to rectify historical oversights and promote a more balanced federation, ultimately strengthening Nigeria’s democratic foundations.

The proposed Anioma State boasts significant economic potential. Comprising nine local government areas, six of which are rich in oil and gas resources, the proposed state is well-positioned for economic viability.

Additionally, the region’s abundant human capital further enhances its potential for sustainable development.

By redistributing resources to accommodate Anioma’s needs, the new state could stimulate economic growth, infrastructure development, and improved public services, benefiting not only Anioma but also neighbouring regions.

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The strategic location of the proposed Anioma State offers opportunities for trade and investment, particularly in agriculture, commerce, and tourism.

The fertile land is ideal for large-scale farming, which could boost food production and create jobs.

Furthermore, the development of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and power supply would facilitate economic activities and attract investors, leading to increased revenue generation for the state.

The creation of Anioma State would lead to shifts in political power and representation at both state and federal levels. This reconfiguration could balance political influence in the surrounding zones, fostering a more inclusive and representative political landscape.

Senator Nwoko emphasises that this proposal is about ensuring fair representation and resource allocation for the Southeast, addressing a longstanding geopolitical oversight.

With the proposed Anioma State, the Southeast would gain an additional voice in the Senate, enhancing its ability to advocate for policies and projects that benefit the region.

This increased representation would also enable the South East to play a more significant role in national decision-making processes, promoting greater inclusivity and equity in governance.

Anioma State would influence socio-cultural interactions and relationships, strengthening the bonds within the South East and promoting unity among the Igbo people.

The Anioma socio-cultural group, Izu Anioma, and the Pan Igbo cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, have been vocal advocates for this cause, highlighting its cultural and social significance.

The creation of Anioma State would foster a sense of identity and belonging among its people, contributing to the overall cultural cohesion of the region.

The establishment of Anioma State would also facilitate cultural exchange and cooperation between the Anioma people and other ethnic groups within the South East. This interaction would promote mutual understanding and respect, reinforcing the social fabric of the region and enhancing national unity.

Despite the compelling arguments for Anioma State, some opposition exists, primarily from the Ukwuani people, one of the nine local government areas in Delta North. The Ukwuani, under the aegis of VOTAbanum, have expressed a preference for aligning with the Urhobo, Isoko, and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities rather than Aniocha and Oshimili.

This opposition, however, represents a minority view within the broader Anioma region. Critics argue that the creation of Anioma State could disrupt existing political and economic dynamics.

However, these concerns can be addressed through inclusive dialogue and collaborative planning. Senator Nwoko’s initiative involves extensive consultation and consensus-building with stakeholders, ensuring that all voices are heard and concerns are addressed.

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The proposal for Orlu State, another suggested addition to the Southeast, involves subdividing existing Igbo states. This approach could create further fragmentation and may not garner broad support.

In contrast, Anioma State, coming from a different part outside of the existing South East, would add to the Igbo and South East without subdividing existing states. This strategy is more acceptable as it expands the Southeast’s representation and influence without internal divisions.

Discussions with Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, a major proponent of Orlu State, revealed that there is a lack of widespread support for this proposal. Even communities in Anambra, close to Orlu, have expressed opposition, highlighting the absence of consultation and consensus.

In contrast, Anioma State enjoys broader support and aligns with the strategic interests of the South East.

Hon. Ugochinyere acknowledged the challenges in promoting Orlu State, noting that the lack of grassroots support and external influences have hindered its progress.

This admission underscores the need for a more unifying and widely accepted proposal, such as Anioma State, which has garnered significant backing from various stakeholders within the Southeast.

The mainstream Ohaneze Ndigbo, led by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, should adopt the proposed Anioma State as the best option for the Igbo people. By bringing together all stakeholders, including local communities, traditional leaders, and political representatives, a unified approach can be developed. This collective effort would demonstrate the Igbo people’s commitment to equitable representation and resource distribution.

Opposition to Anioma State appears to be politically motivated, potentially funded by political opponents of Senator Nwoko. It is essential to recognize that these dissenting voices represent a small minority. The broader consensus within the Anioma region and the Southeast supports the creation of Anioma State as a viable and sustainable solution.

Engaging with the Ukwuani and addressing their concerns through dialogue and collaboration can mitigate opposition. Highlighting the shared benefits of Anioma State, such as improved infrastructure, economic opportunities, and enhanced political representation, can foster a sense of inclusion and cooperation among all ethnic groups in the region.

Nigeria’s geopolitical structure requires careful consideration and decision-making to address longstanding imbalances and promote equitable development. The creation of Anioma State, championed by Senator Ned Nwoko, represents a strategic and well-considered proposal that addresses historical grievances, promotes fair representation, and stimulates economic growth.

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The proposed Anioma State is not just an addition to the map; it is a step towards equitable development and resource distribution for the Igbo people and the South East.

By supporting this proposal, President Bola Tinubu can make history and leave a lasting legacy of promoting justice, equity, and progress for all Nigerians. The time to act is now, and the creation of Anioma State is both urgent and compelling.

One of the most important aspects of the Anioma State proposal is its potential to correct the historical marginalisation of the Anioma people. For decades, the Anioma people have faced neglect in terms of development and representation, which has hindered their ability to fully participate in the socioeconomic and political affairs of the country.

The creation of Anioma State would serve as a form of restitution, acknowledging past injustices and paving the way for a more inclusive and balanced federation.

The Anioma people, with their rich cultural heritage and history of resilience, have contributed significantly to the development of Nigeria. Yet, their contributions have often been overlooked due to their minority status within the larger Delta State.

By granting them their state, Nigeria would be recognizing and honouring their unique identity and ensuring that their voices are heard in the national discourse.

The strategic location of Anioma State also offers significant advantages. Positioned as a gateway between the Southeast and South-South regions, Anioma State could facilitate trade and commerce, fostering economic integration and cooperation between these regions.

This could lead to the development of new markets and the expansion of existing ones, benefiting not only Anioma State but also its neighbouring states and the country as a whole.

In conclusion, the creation of Anioma State represents a strategic and well-considered proposal that addresses historical grievances, promotes fair representation, and stimulates economic growth. It is a step towards equitable development and resource distribution for the Igbo people and the South East, recognizing and honoring their unique identity and contributions to the nation. By supporting this proposal, Nigeria can promote justice, equity, and progress for all its citizens, leaving a lasting legacy of inclusivity and balanced development. The time to act is now, and the creation of Anioma State is both urgent and compelling.

Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.


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