If there is any separate and distinct tribal group that has been contributing a lot to the development of Nigeria, it is none other than the Igbos of delta state. I believed that if  IBB’s regime had given  us our cherished Anioma State, we would have fared better than under the present gang-like hegemony of the Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ezon, Isoko and Ijaw. We  never bargained for this present raw deal with IBB. In fact, we were better off under the Benin Kingdom than under the present Urhobo ‘Korokoro’ arrogant domination and hegemonic tendencies.

 

One of the basic problems with most ethnic and tribal groups in the South is that they do not forgive. We always have this tendency to add new grudges on old grudges which does nothing but create negative multiplier effects. While the North is moving on, even though there are proven cases of  wide spread poverty in that region, the South is always antagonising itself.

 

What has happened to our Southern Governors meeting which was initiated by Tinubu and others? It has faded as quickly as it was started and yet the Northern Governors Forum is still on course. “Ego-massaging” is daily killing the South, and yet we claim superiority in the Education sector. Acquired education, which ought to act as a catalyst to forging closer unity and ties among us, has seemingly become irrelevant in our quest for a united front.

 

Education is supposed to be power but in the South, because of our ego and pride and this innate tendency to sell out over a pot of pottage, we have deliberately refused to use our education for effect. We are always busy fighting ourselves. Honestly, I think we need to initiate the process of de-schooling ourselves. 

 

On the 27 of August 1991, when IBB’s regime created Delta and Jigawa States among others, there were murmurs when Asaba and Dutse were strangely chosen as state capitals instead of Warri and Hadeija. The people of Warri and Hadeija protested but IBB’s regime stood its ground. Even Delta Igbos were not happy that they were not given Anioma State. IBB had simply thought he’d killed two birds with one stone by merging the two agitations { Delta and Anioma States} into one, but what he created was a hotchpotch and a terrible amalgam. Delta state is literally the ugliest hippopotamus I have ever seen.

 

One of the dangers in the game of numbers is that the Urhobos never hid their plan to deny Ika Igbos the benefits that go with a State capital. They openly proclaimed it that Delta Igbos will never see the light of development. And since that State was created, they have been behaving true to their primeval  proclamation with pure antics. Going purely and cunningly by the caveman’s logic, Asaba, the State capital, is still as it were when it was created in 1991- a complete derelict of a capital. This is sad.

 

The irony of this act of impunity is that the same people  who are fighting for injustice in the Niger Delta are deliberately and consciously denying the Igbo-speaking people justice in Delta State. The ubiquitous James Ibori, as a former governor of the state, was virtually operating from Warri, leaving Asaba in the most despicable state of disrepair. How can you be crying foul against the Federal government and fighting for justice when your stock is virtually denying Igbos in Delta State the same justice?

 

Yet, in the North, typical of their characteristic homogeneity, the people of Hadeija have since forgotten and forgiven and had made up and moved on, with the people of  Dutse. May I please remind the Urhobos that the Igbo culture area of Delta state, as was thoroughly studied by the late Professor Mike Onwuejeogwu, though with some historical variances here and there, comprised {amongst others} the following towns and villages; Asaba, Ibusa, Okpanam, Ugbolu, Anwai, Igbodo, Achalla. Ogwashi-ukwu, Ubulu-ukwu, Ubulu-Okiti, Obior, Issele-Ukwu, Okwe, Agbor, Umunnede, Ekwuoma, Issele-Mkptime, Onicha-Ugbo, Onicha-Olona, Onicha-Ugwu, Illah, Ezi, Ebu, Idumuje-Unor, Idumuje-Ugboko, Akumazi-Umuocha, Kwale, Utagbu-egbe, Utagbu-Unor, Obinomba, Obiarukwu and Owerri-Olubor.

 

These are towns and villages inhabited by human beings, not cockroaches. They have been dominated, made pauperised and completely alienated by the Urhobos in criminal collaboration with their kiths and kin. None of the aforementioned towns and villages have witnessed any atom of development since that state was created. Every development is channelled to Warri, Sapele, Oghara, and Ughelli - the homes of the Urhobos, Itsekiris, Izons, Isokos and the Ijaws.

 

What crime have we committed? After all, we never had the slightest premonition of IBB’s intention when that creation was about to be announced. All that everyone knew was that, two states were  requested from Bendel, and the likelihood was that it would only get one. Again, most of the Igbo speaking towns never bargained for the capital to be in Asaba.

 

Even in our quest for Anioma State, it was agreed that the capital must be central to act as a centrifugal pull, and not push, to its inhabitants. In other words the chosen Anioma State capital would have pulled people to it and not push people away from it for lack of space. So, what crime did we commit that is beyond the redemption of the Urhobos?

 

It beggars belief for some to have argued and still argue that Asaba was chosen because IBB’s wife, Mariam, was from that town. As far as I am concerned, that argument did not and still does not hold water to this very day. Had IBB a wife in Dutse which, against all odds and bets, was the chosen capital of Jigawa instead of the more favourite Hadeija town? If your answer is a definitive no, then throw such insinuations about Asaba into River Sapele for good.

 

Besides, of social relevance here is the fact that most of the legacy of developments in this area were the ones provided by Col. Ogbemudia during the military regime of  General Yakubu Gowon. The roads linking up most of these communities were constructed under his government. The general hospitals and very clean public pipe borne water were provided by him.

 

Today, all the public taps have dried up. The hospitals are just “mere consulting clinics”.  Most of the feeder roads Ogbemudia constructed are still better than the new ones that were done afterwards. A typical example is the old road linking Asaba, Ibusa, Ogwashi-ukwu, Ubulu-ukwu, Obior, Umunnede to the present newly expanded Benin / Onitsha express road, which was constructed after the civil war. That road is still better than the ones other regimes- put together- have constructed in subsequent years in that area.

 

Ogbemudia’s record held him in good stead that when he contested the governorship election of the then Bendel State under the NPN ticket, against Prof. Ambrose Ali in the1983 election, he swept the polls in that area to the discredit of the UPN. His past record of performance spoke for him. And up to this date, |I still reckoned he is the best. Whatever oil money |Ibori got from the federation account he literally ‘drank’ like water with nothing to show case in these Igbo communities.

 

I hope Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Daniel Okumagba, and Rtd General Paul Omu, who were both alumni  of Saint Thomas Teacher Training College, Ibusa, and others, will re-adjust their definition of injustice. Let them pay a visit to their alma mater and I can assure them that they will develop goose pimples. If they feel that the injustice of the Niger Delta is unmerited, then they should check their glaring injustice against the Igbo people of Delta State. No tribe has the monopoly of violence. The fact that our people have not reacted does not depict cowardice.

 

Our stoical silence is philosophical and historical. Philosophical because we are a mature people. And, historical because of the seemingly heroic act of our two sons, Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu {from Okpanam} and Captain Tim Onwuatuegwu { from Illah} in the 15 January 1966 coup to which our people are still being held some time in opprobrium.

 

The area still has people of calibre, namely: Prof. Pat Utomi, Prof. Nwawolo, Prof. Okonjo, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, Prof. Fidelis Odita { QC and SAN },Col. Nwawo, Col. Okwechime, Col. Achuzia, Prof. Okoh, Prof.Emenanjo, Prof. Onwuachi, Prof. Elueze, Prof. Edozie, Prof. Emmanuel Nwanze, Mike Ovie {MD, Zenith Bank}, Sabastin Adigwe {MD, Afrique Bank}, Atuche Francis { MD, Bank PHB}, Tony Elumelu {MD, UBA} and an up and coming sharp chap called  Mr. Rowland Nwanze.

 

With what I saw in these areas when I went home in October 2007, I just hope that one day, a push will not become a shove.  I also pray that one day, these oppressors will be given their so called “genuine Delta State“, believe it or not, it would be good riddance to bad rubbish. Go, soak yourself in your crude oil but the present fact remains, that whenever you point one of your accusing fingers to the Federal government for the neglect of the Niger-Delta, you forget that the other four fingers are pointed towards you.

 

 If these people, shouting injustice, would be honourable and sincere enough to themselves, let them show their humanity by embarking on a fact-finding mission of the Igbo culture area of the state. They will be ashamed  and shocked of what they will discover. It is poverty, misery and neglect of a people callously being executed by “educated” Urhobos as pre-planned, since 1991. Most developments in these communities are simply being executed through self-efforts.

 

To most Urhobos and their kindred-spirit, it is better for the North to seep the crude oil than for their closest neighbours to enjoy it. It is this same surreptitious and slippery attitude that they exhibited during the Biafran war, supporting General Gowon to keep Nigeria one and to annihilate us.

 

Today, it is a fact which has come to dawn on all of us that the chickens have come home to roost.  Whether we believe it or not, the three regions in the South have been humiliated in one way or the other by the same North in systematic fashion. First, it was the Igbos during the civil war. Second, was the Yorubas in the light of the arrogant and criminal annulment of the June 12, 1993 election; and finally, the Niger-Deltans who are now feeling the heat from the same North.

 

The final onslaught against the whole South by the North is now on cause; and that is, to make sure that they bring the Southerners to their knees until they learn to wink no more. Their mission statement of the early1960s as proclaimed by their leaders, of throwing the “Koran into the Atlantic ocean,” is about to be accomplished. The interpretation of that aphorism for those who care to know is simple. It means partly, the conquest of the South.

 

And I can assure all Southerners that the North will succeed if we continue with this our braggadocio, endless divisive bickering, chronic unforgiven spirit, stereotypical and antagonistic attitude and blame game. May I use this opportunity to call on the South to rally round Alhaji Asari Dukobo and to also take cues from Bode Eluyera’s analysis of our luggardist Nigeria. Besides, I just hope the Urhobos will change for good and use their numbers for the positive and even development of the state. What is good for the geese is also good for the ganders. “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere”.

 

It is unfortunate that our crisis of identity extends to our own Igbo brothers and sisters across the Niger who are supposed to know better. Unfortunately, they regard themselves, as “the proper Igbos” while the Delta Igbos or Ika Igbos or Western Igbos are often lumped and regarded derogatorily as “Hausa-Igbos”. This is despite the solid research and studies to the contrary by the late Prof. M. A. Onwuejeogwu. His studies, and here I refer to Nri Museum, show that there is no nomenclature like “Hausa Igbo” or “proper Igbo”. Igbo is Igbo! Period.

 

These “proper Igbos” exhibited this same ambivalent and marginal behaviour towards our Biafran officers of Delta Igbo extraction during the civil war. The “proper Igbos” should get it into their heads that there is strength in numbers and that we feel unperturbed about their historical ignorance about us, because all Delta Igbo communities know their origins and history. I rest my case!