STATE CREATION: ANIOMA MOST VIABLE OPTION
When the preliminary nod was given to request by South East geopolitical zone for extra state to bring them at per with other geopolitical zones except north west, I knew that apart from the project being shot down by unfriendly delegates of south east, the project could die with our people choosing the location of the new state. The decision of political restructuring committee for extra state in the south east will still be discussed and voted on at plenary session of the conference and after that, there is still a long way to go before the zone will be asked to decide from which part the new state will come from but the ruckus of where the new state should be created from is already in a fervent contest.
Before now there has been clamour for creation of extra state for south east by different groups proposing different names and locations. Some of the names we have heard in the past included Urashi state, Adada state, Aba state, Igbo-etiti state among others. Igbo speaking part of Delta state was putting more effort on producing next Delta state governor at the time though they have agitated for creation of Anioma state in the past but was met with indifferent response from both government and the governed. This opening for possible creation of extra state in south east has renewed the call for creation of Anioma state putting them at logger heads with their brothers from south east geopolitical zone calling for the same thing. It is now going to be a question of territory that is more viable and has economic and social potentials to becoming a thriving state.
As an individual I believe that Anioma state is more economically, socially and politically viable even though I am from Anambra state. I support the creation of Anioma state if and when final agreement has been reached for additional state for south east for some obvious reasons. Delta north which is clamouring for anioma state is bigger geographically than other areas calling for same even though land geography does not determine ability for survival of a people. Going from Asaba to Emu Ebendo could take as much as one and half hours and from Asaba which obviously going to be the capital to Igbo Igbanke and then to Kwale has more commercial semi-urban towns than any of the other areas in south east clamouring for state. With Oshimili north and south, Ndokwa north and south, Ika north and south, et al, Anioma has more local governments than their rivals for state creation. In Nigeria where natural resources are valued more than human resources, Anioma communities of Kwale, Osisa, Abho, Okpai all have more oil and gas deposits than entire Abia state. They already have a well built capital in Asaba with airport and a good number of higher institutions like polytechnic in Ogwashi, collage of education in Agbor and Asaba, and second campus of present state university. One can not but notice the rate of real estate development going on in Asaba the capital of Delta state which has over flowed into neighbouring communities like Okpanam. Though presence of industries are not much but entertainment and tourism industries can make up for them as Asaba and its environs are home to Nigeria's multi million dollar movie industry.
Other regions of south east craving for the new state have the right to and are also viable but the most viable should have it. The part of Enugu state seriously vying for the new Adada state can only boast of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and college of education at Eha-mufu. Economically they are locked out from thriving centers of present Enugu state as they are far away from the capital city with agriculture not paid due attention in the state. Then the part of Abia state calling for creation of Aba state has only the city of Aba which is the most neglected and abandoned city in sub-Saharan Africa to boast with. Having been so neglected by successive governments of Abia state, the region dominated by Ngwa people are greatly deprived in developmental facilities. If one should observe well he can see that all the areas in south east and Anioma vying for the new state are all politically weak areas of their various present states and are also fighting to produce next governors of their current states. The edge Anioma has over others is that they have present capital territory of Delta state in their domain and thereby are availed of facilities due to a capital city.
A lot of arguments have been raised against creation of Anioma state by some people in the south east. Some have argued that Aniomas are Igbos in south-south and should remain like that and not lay claim or partake of what is given to south-east region. The question is whether Anioma geographically not part of south east especially when river Niger is removed from the mindset of critics? Others have argued and made reference to few misguided people from Anioma saying that they are not Igbos just like the Ikweres of Rivers state are doing now and thereby should not be allowed this benefit. Again I see that as a lame argument as Onitsha and Ogbaru people in Anambra state where I come from usually call other parts of Anambra 'Umuigbo' meaning Igbo people. Ogbaru specifically referred to themselves as 'Olu' people but they are Igbos and we can't deny that fact. We have heard of Ngwa, Abriba, Mbaise, people existing in Abia and Imo states, are we going to say they are not Igbos simply because they refer to themselves with those names. All these are intrinsic nomenclature forming part of what we know as Igbo nation. Creation of this extra state when possible should be chosen by facts and not sentiment. Anioma as a state will be more economically viable than present Abia state without Aba city not to talk of a potion of the state or others like Urashi and Adada. Let us agree and do the right thing by creating a state that can survive without bringing shame to south east.
Written By Obi Ebuka Onochie