The Justification for Anioma State and Inclusion of Onicha-Ado by Chuks ANYADUBA*

*The Justification for Anioma State and Inclusion of Onicha-Ado by Chuks ANYADUBA*

The lawmaker representing Delta North Senatorial District, Senator Ned Nwoko is presenting a bill for the creation of Anioma state. This this is to correct historical oversight and to balance representation in the Southeast and geopolitical distribution of states in Nigeria. This I believe is not just urgent but compelling and long overdue. Senator Ned pointed out the obvious thus; ‘the South East geopolitical zone currently has five states, unlike its counterparts, except for the North West, which has seven states. This disparity results in an imbalance of representation and resources, with the South East having only 15 lawmakers compared to the 18 lawmakers of other zones in the senate’. This inequity affects legislative representation and the distribution of national resources, perpetuating a longstanding injustice. I am particularly elated that the senator mentioned that creating Anioma state is not just about increasing the number of states, rather it is about ensuring fair representation and resource allocation for the South East.
As an indigene of Onicha Ado (also known as Onitsha), the Onicha people are historically and culturally linked to Anioma. The historical narrative of Onicha Ado intertwines with the broader history of the Anioma people, thus making a compelling case for its inclusion in the proposed Anioma State. The Anioma people, primarily inhabiting the western part of Delta State, speak dialects of the Igbo language that are mutually intelligible with the dialect spoken in Onitsha. Cultural practices, traditional festivals, and kinship systems further reinforce these connections. The annual Ofala Festival in Onitsha, for instance, mirrors similar traditional festivals in Anioma communities, celebrating the rich heritage and historical continuity of the people.
Numerous articles and publications on the internet trace the origin of the Onicha Ado people (present-day Onitsha) to Chima, founder of Anioma. Allow me to briefly delve into this history for clarification. While a few villages in Onitsha, such as Ogbeotu, Mgbelekeke, and Obikporo, trace their ancestral lineage to the Igala, most Onitsha indigenes claim their ancestry from Anioma and down to Benin. In the 16th century, these ancestors migrated to escape the wrath of Oba Esigie. Led by their founder, Eze Chima, they established several towns along their journey, including Ọnicha Ugbo, Ọnicha Ọlọna, Issele Uku, and Issele Azagba. Eventually, some of them crossed the Niger River and settled at Ọnicha Mmiri, now known as Onicha Ado N’Idu, which the British later renamed Onitsha.

The first president of Nigeria Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe wrote “Thus, in tracing my paternal lineage, I could say that both parents of my father are direct descendants of Eze Chima. As for me, I can trace my paternal ancestry in this wise: I am the first son of Chukwuemeka, who was the third child and first son of Azikiwe, who was the second son of Molokwu, who was the third son of Ozomaocha, who was the second son of Inosi Onira, who was the fourth son of Dei, the second son of Eze Chima, the founder of Onitsha.” SOURCE – Nnamdi A zikiwe: My Odyssey, Chapter I (Spectrum Books, 1970) “My Genealogy and Nativity” p4.
The inclusion of Onicha Ado in the proposed Anioma State is justified on multiple grounds. Firstly, the historical and cultural connections between Onitsha and the Anioma people underscore a shared heritage that transcends modern state boundaries.
Secondly, the economic interdependence and social integration highlight the practical benefits of unified governance. Onitsha’s economic prowess can drive the development of Anioma State, ensuring equitable resource distribution and fostering regional growth.
Additionally, the creation of Anioma State with Onicha Ado included would address longstanding issues of political representation and administrative neglect. It would provide a more balanced and inclusive governance structure, ensuring that the diverse voices within the region are heard and their needs met. This move aligns with broader efforts to promote federalism and decentralization in Nigeria, empowering local communities and fostering sustainable development.
The history of Onicha Ado as part of the proposed Anioma State is a testament to the deep-rooted connections that bind the people of Onitsha and Anioma. By acknowledging these historical, cultural, and economic ties, the inclusion of Onitsha North and Onitsha South in Anioma State promises to enhance political representation, ensure equitable resource allocation, and drive regional development. This initiative is a significant step towards realizing the aspirations of the Anioma people and fostering a more balanced and prosperous South East. Applause to Senator Ned Nwoko for proposing this bill. I hope it successfully navigates the legislative process and ultimately receives the President’s assent.



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