The Organisation for the Advancement of Anioma Culture, OFAAC, and Anioma people in the Diaspora support the creation of Anioma State. The creation of Anioma State is overdue.
The biggest motivating factor for the demand for the actualisation of Anioma lies in the collective resolve of the people for equity and self-determination. Anioma has a population of about 1.5 million with a land mass of about 6, 300square kilometres, even bigger than some countries.
The land is endowed with oil, gas, rich farmlands, beautiful culture, diverse ecosystem with breath-taking tourist sites and historical monuments, coupled with an amazing human resource. Above all, the land is peaceful. In Anioma land, we do not have militancy.
We are making a passionate appeal to the relevant authorities to fulfil the enduring aspiration of our people by creating Anioma State. The demand for Anioma State dates back to 1954 when Anioma people requested the then colonial government to create West Niger Province for them. In 1975, Anioma leaders presented another application to the Justice Ayo Irikefe States Creation Committee which was established in 1974.
This was followed by another application and memoranda to the Constituent Assembly and the National Assembly. Almost all Nigeria’s Presidents and Heads of State between 1979 and 1999 received these applications and memoranda.
Anioma passed all the assessment by the National Assembly Conference Committee Report for Creation and was earmarked to become a state but for the military takeover of government in January 1984. Military governments since then created 12 out of the 14 states already approved, leaving Anioma and Katagum.
The leadership of the current National Assembly should look dispassionately into the demand for Anioma State and the approval for the creation made to President Shehu Shagari’s government which was halted.
Since the unfair balkanization of Anioma people into the old Warri and Benin Provinces, the people are branded minorities, a burden that persists in Delta State. How can anyone justify the fact that 21 years after Delta State was created, Anioma is yet to produce a governor? Anioma people question the poor status of Asaba, capital of Delta State.
Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Professor) Chike Edozien, who is the Chairman of the Central Working Committee of the Movement for the Actualization of Anioma State, on v a isit to the National Assembly, told the leadership that the creation of the state would bring the long desired justice to Anioma people.
Senator Uche Chukwumerijie, at a symposium, said, “If civil war was one black spot in the history of Nigeria and if blackness has degree of blackness, then Asaba is the blackest spot in the Nigeria history”. And going by the plight of the people, Chukwumerijie likened the region to a capsule and climax of genocidal wave that was called the Nigerian civil war.
General Yakubu Gowon recently tendered a public apology to Anioma people on the genocide they suffered during the civil war. The people need more than an apology as they have continued to live in pain and deprivation. The only way to reverse the perceived gratuitous injustice is for Anioma State to be created.
Ifeadi, an architect, is President of the Organisation For the Advancement of Anioma Culture, OFAAC, the cultural umbrella body of Anioma people in Nigeria and Diaspora.