FEATURE ARTICLE

Sir Tony NammorWednesday, November 27, 2013
tnammor@aol.com


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ANIOMA IN THE DYNAMICS OF NIGERIAN POLITY:
"A PEOPLE IN SEARCH OF TRUE REPRESENTATION……"


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NIOMA IN SEARCH OF TRUISM is one slogan we should adopt as a necessity of NOW for change…..

"WE submit that any future political arrangement in Nigeria that ignores the plea of the Anioma people for a separate state of their own would have ignored more than 50year old search for parity and equality in the devolution of political power to the people. The Anioma people do not want to be a pawn simply to checkmate the contending and competing interests of other nationalities in the larger Nigerian collectivity; confident in our identity and buffered by the geo-political statehood, we are sure to develop Anioma to the admiration of Nigerians" End Quote. Dr Kunirum Osia.

"Poverty and Underdevelopment in Anioma; One of the biggest constraints of opportunities in Anioma is the absence of physical assets; to include infrastructures (Roads and electricity) and communication facilities. Data on physical assets (Infrastructure) are not readily available but the little there is suggests that rural households In Anioma have limited access to infrastructures. The gap in access to infrastructure between rural Anioma and other rural areas in some parts of Nigeria is so wide; it is argued that the gap is due to deliberate bias in public policies and expenditure allocations by government as such traps the Anioma households in the vicious circle of abject poverty by denying them the opportunity to improve their incomes. Daughters and sons of Anioma have held and continue to hold important positions at federal and state levels and the current capital of Delta State is in Anioma. The operative question s are; what has Anioma got to show for her immerse contribution to Nigeria and Delta State? Is she better off today than she was 50 years ago when Nigeria got her independence? End Quote…Dr Nwanze Okidegbe. . Not surprising at all that Dr Nwanze Okidegbe asked the following

Operative questions;

  1. What has Anioma got to show for her immense contribution to Nigeria and

    Delta State?

  2. Is she better off today than she was 50 years ago when Nigeria attained

Independence?

A People who choose to be so called "ANIOMAS" cannot be in exempt of the intricate aspect of nation development and defined state politics as being observed in the last 14-15 years in Delta State. It is heart breaking and somewhat misplaced in hyper bowl the astute misrepresentations of the people and land when one takes into cognizance both human welfare and physical developments taking place within the state and notably the un-inspiring tilt in proportioning true developmental programs, projects and services within the nine LGA's of Anioma as oppose those found in other senatorial districts. BELOW, I shall use a few notable features in the land to seek the presence and accountability of TRUE REPRESENTATION in Anioma.

ASABA AIRPORT: One major accomplishment no doubt is the Asaba airport but with dire financial consequences yet many Not just a few, but many of our people would be quick to point to the Asaba Airport as a major landslide of the administration in Delta State. However, when we match the project design, execution and completion vis a vis the total cost up to commissioning, it may have come at a huge price to the people. The troubling puzzle is why building of the Asaba Airport, seems open-ended till date. It is still on-going, yet commissioned.

One is forced to also re-evaluate the Asaba Airport as one project costing the people an arm and a leg and would sure be debited in line with expense within Delta North senatorial district. Now, besides the Airport, I invite the good people of Anioma to take out time to travel within the nine Local Government Areas without restricting oneself to the major towns but a spread of ANIOMA communities to ascertain the level of physical developments that has taken place in these towns. It would be out of place to critique without sighting some examples.

ROAD DEVELOPMENT: Let us look at our ROADS for example; starting with Asaba, the State capital. Nnebisi Road which is a major road cutting across Asaba from one end to the other and intersecting the major highway, Benin-Onitsha. This road is maintained on two lanes without expansion, rehabilitation and beautification that is befitting of a state capital. Agbo is another with similar degrading road network. It is quite sad that in over 14 years, the same major road cutting across Agbor from the Benin-Onitsha expressway to the heart of the town has remained degraded while IKA LGA no doubt had produced and still has major representation in the hierarchy of governance within the state government and the National Assembly. WHY?

WHY are ANIOMA roads connecting towns like Obomkpa, Obio, Issele Uku, and many more still being ignored? I want to believe the representatives on all levels travel these roads often. How do they feel?

PROVISION OF PIPE BORNE WATER: A young son of Anioma informed me about a laudable small water project he was in partnership with a company in the North and how they had been able to help provide portable water for both domestic and irrigation purposes for farmers. I then asked him, "Why not Anioma?" He expressed frustration at rebuff to his multiple attempts to reach out to both Aniocha and Oshimili Local council in order to secure a slot to present his project and show how they could help in Anioma. I was impressed with his work and advised him to reach out to late Dr Enueme, to help direct him to the appropriate quarters. He eventually did and today, he is talking with them. Pipe bore water is a necessity and not privilege to the people. The attitude of selective privileges accorded few at the expense of many should stop and the process of prejudicial selection in employment and project distribution should be based on merit and open to everyone with emphases giving to qualified indigenous sons and daughters of Anioma.

POWER: Sustainable electricity is no doubt a national problem and many can relate with its continuous absence. An average Anioma person can reminisce on the past to relate to the present faced with the reality that the difference in the availability of power supply in most towns cannot be justified by what we are being told. Power supply continues to elude Anioma towns and while one travels over the Niger Bridge at night to Onitsha or drives on the expressway on opposite direction to Benin. It is easy for all to see the progression of power supply in Benin and Onitsha yet Asaba and the environs are bereft of such basic necessity. WHY

How about hospitals, health centers and clinics? What is the status of the major hospitals, health centers and other health-related facilities in the region? What are the benefits of building health centers without properly equipping them? How are the people benefitting from these hospitals and health clinics? I call on the people of Anioma to take out time and visit most hospitals and clinics in the nine local government areas; take a tour of the wards and evaluate the patients care, welfare and staffs to have a better feel of how poor these facilities have become; A notable discussion in recent time is a case of missing generator in one of the hospitals and after many complaints, a supposedly new one was brought in to the hospital and again taking away. How can a hospital operate like that in Anioma? Yet we talk about representations!

EKUMEKU STATUE: On same token; we recently experienced the dismantling of the "Ekumeku" statue which was strategically located in the centre of a major road in Asaba. To our horror, the symbol of Anioma struggle was replaced with a bank structure and we are not aware that an alternative site has been accorded the Ekumeku statue. One would be quick to ask, "Where are the representatives of Anioma when such was taking place? How is it possible with the presence of our royal stool? Why was it taken down? It is insensitive and disrespectful to our people, that such a symbolic statue, representing a major cultural and historical fact of the Anioma people, could be removed. The Ekumeku statue may not have been so sublimed but the expectation would be to carry out a phenomenal restoration of the statue making it fit for the people as a whole. I condemn un-equivocally the removal of the Ekumeku statue and advise wise counsel to prevail in the matter.

DELTA STATE MASTER PLAN: How many have taken the time out to visit the local council within the nine LGA to ask about copies of the Delta State Development plan as it relates to proposed structural developments in the state ? How much is being allocated to Delta North as compared to Central and South in form of funding and proposed physical planning and developments? Where are these physical developments going to be located? Is it an oversight or just mis-adventure that in the course of allotting physical developments within the state, Delta central and South are given developments such as the Petroleum Training Institutes while Delta North (Anioma) is awarded Botanical Garden for example? Guess they already know that most of the people are botanist in Anioma as such we need gardens (sarcasm). The key is to advocate a balance in proposed physical developments within the three senatorial districts.

PEOPLES EMPOWERMENT: Empowerment is one of many ways of bridging the gap between leadership and the led (masses) in governance, people management and service. Considering what we observe in some states, in form of peoples empowerment, how much empowerment has the masses of Anioma been given? It is a scandal that many of our representatives, who pretend to lead and represent Anioma people, would grab selected loyalist from some towns and villages, offer them pecks ranging from generators, sewing machines, grinding machines, motor-cycle and so on. This is an insulting means of empowering the masses. Then the pertinent questions to ask are; "What was the criterium for selecting such persons and what defines the merit for such pecks?" "Why do some get and others don't? The sad reality is that such ceremonies are carried out in the full glare of the public and press, while most that did not benefit watch in bewilderment and wonder why they have been excluded. And this is what we call empowerment! This is not only a misplaced practice; it brings about apathy, discontentment and divisions among the people. The purpose of empowering few at the expense of many is greatly defeated. Empowerment should be defined in the context of communal development, that which is accessible to ALL and not just a few selected individuals. A people need good infrastructures, amenities, education, health etc and in some cases, soft business loans and so on.

ANIOMA LANDS AND SPECULATORS: In 2009 while at a meeting in Asaba, I was advised by a few indigenes of Anioma on the rate by which Anioma lands are being sold to land speculators. In view of the land-use act which allows individuals to buy and sell their landed property at will, Anioma lands became the most sought after in the state by people from neighboring regions and states. The concern here is that, at the rate of sale of these lands within key areas to non-indigenes, Anioma people would become minority in their own land. The potential long term consequences are better imagined. In recent times, mid 2013, I read about the story of a group of persons speculating on lands and misguiding some of our elders and people to sell off their lands for less of its values and so on. The pointer here is simply in land conservation, protection of Anioma culture and heritage and discretion in sustaining critical areas of Anioma lands in order to safe-guard the locals from undue advantage - a case of preventing a long term process of turning the original owners or indigenes into tenants while the visitors become landlords in Anioma. Aniomas are very humble, welcoming and hospitable but Aniomas would need to exact some discretion in selling off their birth right.

OBI's IN COUNCIL: Anioma quest for identity and state creation for example, cannot engage in isolation of the significance and key role of our traditional institution, namely traditional rulers and Monarchies. They are those we refer to as "Royal Fathers and Mothers" of the land. No doubt the land is blessed with resounding personalities both young and aging, who hold these positions and playing various roles in maintaining our rich cultural heritage in line with our tradition. We must commend their efforts but on same token, one is forced to note some areas in which Anioma people would like to have our traditional rulers play prominent roles rather than playing to the politicians. This is in the area of a council for Anioma traditional rulers. Anioma Obis in Council is one body to note, which if not already in existence, should be commissioned as a body of Anioma traditional leaders or a conference of Obis to help in major decision-making, counseling, traditional outreach and enrichment and preservation of Anioma culture, etc. In times of conflict for example, besides the state executive decisions, the obis in council would also have prominent roles. They can contribute their knowledge and share their wisdom, sincerely and honestly, in assisting within the confines of the laws.

ANIOMA AND THE QUEST FOR GOVERNORSHIP SEAT: This I believe should be one of the most talked about issue today in Anioma and it is not out of place simply because the polity and timeline suggests the need to have Aniomas taking a strong decision on an issue that's plagued the people for years - the absence of an Anioma son or daughter as the chief state executive officer (governor).

Only a person, who has not followed the gubernatorial system of governance in the state since its inception, would disagree that it is time for an Anioma governor. There is one thing in advocating for it as opposed to getting it considering that most Anioma candidates would have to vie for the position. Power has never been given on a platter of gold and any Anioma person thinking in line of power simply shifting to Anioma without some level of hesitation, may not be sincere with them. The dynamics of Delta State politics is harsh and most decisions taken may not be a reflection of the popular mandate. However, the key is to produce a candidate who will be generally acceptable, properly vetted, one of resounding acumen, enterprising, sound in vision and mission and most importantly, one who will work veraciously for the people of the state without due influence nor compromisable tendencies.

The people are very much awake and ready to correct their past flaws of omissions and commissions. Politicians who try to engage the people must be willing, able and ready to answer relevant questions and should be requested to present their report cards. Not only those those who have served or still serving, but also those not in service. They should be able to produce enough convincing proof on their mission and vision for the people of Anioma and the state at large.

"It is our turn" should not be used as the basis for vying for the number one seat but a more convincing engagement and manifesto that would be acceptable by most persons from the three senatorial districts of the state. Anioma people must reject those politicians who have compromised both the office and the good will of the people. Those whose mandate has been nothing but self-seeking, aggrandizement and so on.

The people of Anioma should not play sentiments but be supportive of persons who come genuinely to serve their interests and as we look deep into the region, review the past activities of would be candidates in respect to Anioma and the people. The process of separating the wheat from the chaff should not be difficult. Anioma people must be awoken to the reality on ground. It will not come easy and there would be those who do not buy our idea of Anioma candidate, as such, the engagement should be taken to them. We need to court them to convince them and canvass for their votes but by and large, it all starts with WHO THE CHOSEN CANDIDATE IS IN ANIOMA. No stone must be left unturned. VET the candidates to arrive at the best among those presenting themselves and work in unison and collective purpose towards the prize. When the people of other senatorial districts see our candidate and know that they cannot fault him/her on most elimination grounds in vetting, they would tend to open up and embrace our candidate. If Anioma features a candidate who can be easily faulted within the vetting process, he/she is likely to hit a brick wall within the campaign trail. The assignment is challenging for the people. We must know and bear it in mind that if the right Anioma Candidate is presented with sincerity, chances are that the candidate would enjoy better and wider acceptability. On the flip side, if the mantra of selection or compromise is used, a chain of reaction would, by design, have been set in motion for a flurry of negative reactions in other areas and districts. Focus is to build bridges and sound relationship with other Deltans from Central and South districts.

ANIOMA YOUTH: I will simply ask the youths of Anioma, "ARE YOU READY to engage in a positive process of re-engineering and re-orienting the dynamics of the regions leadership and governance?" If YES…then let your participation define you as the future. Anioma simply lies in the decisions you take to stand aside and watch, stay dependent on our less than wholesome representatives or simply engage the polity positively. Your future within Anioma is defined in your awakening to time. And NOW, is that time.

ANIOMA STATE CREATION: I posed a question once to some of my fellow Aniomas; ANIOMA GOVERNOR OR ANIOMA STATE? Which would the people advocate for at this juncture if asked to choose one? The responses were sure mixed, more rhetorical but still convincing that the people would choose both if allowed. Anioma governor cannot and will not fill in for the need and endless agitation for ANIOMA STATE. This is the A-Z of all that is being sourced and agitated for by the people within the polity; it is the only time Aniomas across the board would breathe a sigh of relief to acknowledge that finally; WE HAVE A STATE,, that which we can call ours but we must not be fooled; it would sure take the collective effort of the people. Anioma's have no doubt been unfairly treated and Nigeria will continue to stay awake realizing that she has been prejudice towards the people on state creation and for as long as the collective will is absent, those betraying Anioma on state creation are dishing out their venom behind the scene and a more disturbing aspect is the gross misrepresentation of the people just for selfish personal gains and relevance, the issue on state creation would remain challenged. Those for state creation I believe are overwhelming and when we look around; others within Nigeria are doing same. Now must we cow or submit to the propaganda that Asaba is our state now and relent on the quest? I say a resounding NO. If and when Nigeria decides to come through in state creation….WE" the people must be present at the door step to make our demand. ANIOMAS must continue to hold their heads high, be resounding and convincing when we speak ANIOMA, act ANIOMA and identify ANIOMA as ours. The agitation must continue and to those who have carried on with this struggle; Anioma land and people greet you and we shall get there someday. Nigeria would continue to understand that in her conscience; there is a group of people, north of the Delta; who have been deprived and would not stop until they answer to our cry for a state; ANIOMA STATE.

The experiences of Anioma people in the state during the years of the newly created Delta State have been mixed and kept alive the demand for Anioma State for many obvious reasons; despite the historical and political significance of the peoples awakening, Anioma,s self advancement in national politics is challenged by the politics of ambivalent identity and political self subordination to other groups by some Anioma leaders; those days are long gone…ANIOMAS ARE AWOKE and ready to take up the challenge for positive change.

"ODIN NMA ANIOMA " The good of Anioma is basically in the hands of ALL sons and daughters of Anioma who feel the need to see effective changes , astute will and antecedence for growth and development in the land………..AKA AYIN KO DI.

Dalu Nu.

Sir Tony Nammor.

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