By Norbert Chiazor
Anioma is an intriguing study in geography and genealogy.
Chief Dennis Osadebay,first premier of Midwestern region is credited with naming the area,Anioma,in the 1950s ,representing the cultural quadrants of Aniocha,Oshimili,Ika and Ndokwa.
Anioma,designated Delta North Senatorial district,means the ‘good land’. The abode of the noblest of Deltans,Anioma with 9 local local government areas,has a population of about 2 million excluding her diasporic communities.
Anioma is like a coin.A binary make up.A land with the closest contiguous villages and a people with the most emotive separatism.The Anioma constituents of Aniocha,Oshimili,Ika and Ndokwa share similar cultures but exist in distinct enclaves and selfdoms.A historical consequence of widespread and diffused migratory patterns, spanning Igboid,Benin,Yoruba and Niger-Congo origins.
Anioma encompasses about 12 dialects with peculiar linguistic genres.These include Enuani, (mother tongue of Aniocha/ Oshimil communities) Ukwuani, (analogous to Ndokwa area), Ika (language of Agbor settlers and related aborigines. Olukumi, (Yoruba variant) found in Ugbodu,Ubulubu and Ukwunzuthen Ozalla/Igala ( exemplified by Ebu, Illah,Oko, UgiliAmai ….)
This spatial genealogical and historical distribution account for the republican spirit and individualism of Anioma people.Nonetheless,the Aniomas are bound by unity in diversity which correlates strength of common patrimony.
What seems to have been a tragic drawback to the oneness of Anioma is the nagging absence of a mono association – a socio -cultural umbrella.Groups like Anioma Congress and Izu- Anioma had been in existence with salutary but limited impact.Ndokwa Neku,Aniocha social circle,Onu Ika and so on serve provincial purposes- too ethnocentric and localized.
Neither the flagship Anioma Congress nor the nascent Izu Anioma has the lure and latitude of cultural groups like Afenifere, Arewa, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and even neigbouring rallying points like Urhobo Progress Union UPU, Ijaw National Congress IYC and Isoko Development Union IDU.
The birthing of ANIOMA UNION,a new body reportedly incubated by Anioma professionals from diverse fields hit the public space the other day.
But it would draw trenchant controversy.
Some traditional rulers in Delta North senatorial district,had thrown their weight behind the formation of the ANIOMA UNION.At a meeting at the palace of the Obi Of Owa ,in Ika North East local government area,the monarchs hoped the proposed ANIOMA UNION,would help in advancing the development of Delta North.
The Obi of Owa HRM Emmanuel Efeizomor 11,who spoke on behalf of the Kings earnestly tasked those behind the Anioma group to “ensure that the aggregate interests of all sons and daughters of Delta North are taken into consideration for the betterment of all”.
But the Asagba of Asaba HRM Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien who is the chairman of Delta North Traditional Rulers Forum,opined soon that the emergence of Anioma Union is akin to a” coup” against the existing Anioma Congress.
Less than twenty hours later,the Senator representing Delta North,Senator Peter Nwaoboshi joined.He attacked the promoters of the Anioma Union in a statement and labeled them “political jobbers” out to polarize Anioma Nation.
He contended that “under the umbrella of all traditional rulers of Delta North,the Anioma congress under the leadership of Asagba of Asaba have (sic) remained apolitical whilst speaking truth to power and protecting the interest of Anioma people generally”
If Obi Efeizomor’s pat on the shoulders of the initiators of the new group could pass over as innocuous,Asagba’s exasperation encoded the rebuke of a father to his children.
The submission of the Owa monarch may not have been overreaching or perilous.On the flip side,Anioma Congress had made some sacrifice enhancing Anioma identity.Its role in the emergence of the first Delta governor of Anioma origin in 2015 is reserved for the history books.Asagba’s guide so emblematic.
This explains why Senator Nwaoboshi’s leap into the matter becomes curious.A needless interjection.The postures of the two respected Anioma traditional rulers never called for interlope on their views.It is suggestive of meddling on royal canvas.An incendiary statement, glaringly reckless in delivery and timing.The inferences both spiteful and inciting.A flirtatious gambit with hidden agenda.The domino effect- politicization of Anioma cultural question.Nwaoboshi truly betrayed his covert intent days later when he stormed the Asagba palace and humoured an unsuspecting gathering of Anioma kings with his supposed achievements.The motive so oblique but brutally bare- 2023 campaign!
When in 2014, Anioma Congress took it upon itself to screen dozens of Delta North aspirants with Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa subsequently selected as the most preferred by a committee headed by renowned technocrat,Chief Philip Asiodu,Nwaoboshi went bombastic hectoring the socio-cultural group for assuming the role of a political party nay usurpation of PDP powers.The group would aver in response to the then PDP chairman that they were not cloning partisan function but only concerned about saving Anioma and aiding her sons and daughters away from killing one another in a gubernatorial race.
Today the sitting Senator is pointing fingers at introducers of Anioma Union,hollering that the formation, is designed “to whittle down Anioma Congress “ and amounts to “ nothing short of political mischief”. Rewind to Anioma Congress seven years ago.The music is to say the least hypocritical! How duplicitous can a politician go?
The higher chamber is hallowed.Those who exercise the office has a duty to be conciliatory not inflammatory.Whenever our senator faces his constituents, his presence must always emit unifying vibes,his tone bridled,body language restrained,no matter the circumstances.
For certainty,Anioma urgently desires a Pan -Delta North socio -cultural group at this time when Nigeria with particular reference to Delta stands at the crossroads of political experience. This is the time to tick the box for the fruition of a colourful,singular and powerful all embracing Anioma grouping that would lead Delta Northerners to post modern renewal, her renaissance.
The good old Anioma Congress as well as Izu -Anioma can be restructured to team up with the proposed Anioma Union after wide consultations, to form an apex bulwark of a super solid association,awesome in elite/mass membership,steeped in Anioma identity and national in character.
This is where Anioma Congress is not jaded and Anioma Union far from being an overkill.By the Nigerian constitution and propriety of free assembly,the more the merrier.Yet both bodies and others can either exist separately or better still fuse into a gigantic monolith,celebrating Anioma destiny to the world.
The historical symbolism of Okowa as the pioneer Delta governor of Anioma stock makes a united image of Anioma more compelling much more than ever before.
Pleasant enough,Anioma people rank among the most iconic Nigerians in all spheres of human endeavours.A bunch of her most prodigious talents can be encouraged to lead an omnibus cultural association with giant imprint in the national landscape.Bold faces with world class clout to lift Anioma from leadership anonymity.A new normal towards the blossoming of her latent and manifest fortunes is plausible.
Call it any name! Anioma (Delta North) urgently needs an IROKO cultural group where more of her Eagles can soar highest.