The name ‘Anioma’ is a coinage made by Chie Denis Osadebe when the movement for the actualization of the creation of the state was born. It is in fact an acronym derived from the names of the geo-political areas in existence then namely: Aniocha, Ndokwa, Ika and Oshimili all of who are culturally, historically and linguistically related and have been relating from time immemorial.
The Anioma are group are located in the West Basin of the River Niger in the present South-south, Delta state, Nigeria. Anioma beautifully runs from Ubulubu to Ebu. Anioma is often referred to as Delta North within the state of Delta. Anioma is bounded to the East by Anambra state; to the southeast by lmo and Rivers States; to the south by Bayelsa State; to the southwest by lsoko ethnic group; to the west, by Urhobo ethnic group; to the northwest by Edo State and the north by Kogi State.
Much of the Anioma communities trace their origin to the Igbo as their original homes, thus the reason for the common reference to these people as Delta Igbo. This may also refer to the dialect of the people. Though it may be argued that the Anioma people posses diverse history, natural course of events have certain united and helped in no small way to homogenize the culture and linguistics of these people. While the origin of these group of people can largely be traced to the Igbo like Ibusa partly from Nshi (Nri) and Ogwashi –Uku from Nri, there still some whose history can be traced to the Bini where Ezechima was said to have migrated founding areas like Onitsha (now in the South-East), Issele-Uku, Onicha-Ugbo and others alike.
The dialects of Anioma can adequately be grouped into Ukwuani (mostly spoken by the Ndokwa and Ukwuani), Enu-Ani (Ibusa, Ogwashi-Uku, Asaba, parts of Igbodo, Ilah, Issele-Uku etc), Ika (Agbor) and Aboh (spoken mostly by the Aboh and the communities around it) however, there is no doubt that all the Anioma towns and communities understand and speak the Igbo language effectively.
There are Anioma people in Edo state of Nigeria (Igbanke), Anambra state (Onitsha, Ozobulu, Obosi, Oraifite) Imo state (Oguta), Rivers state (Ndoni, Ogba) amongst several others. The British following the defeat of the Anioma people by them during the years of Ekwumekwu wars imperialistically carried out this great harm of balkanization. This situation was further worsened by the Federal Government of Nigeria who has through series of marginalization policies of the Igbo directly encouraged the division of the Igbo, annexing some of these oil rich towns and villages to other states with distinct history and culture. A perfect example is the sudden emergence of the ‘six geo-political’ phrase, which has led to the division of the once Eastern region majestically ruled by the Igbo.
Some Anioma towns and communities
ABAH, UNOR, ANIFEKIDE, EJEME-AGBOR, IGBUKU, OBOMKPA, ONICHA-UGBO, UKALA-OKPUNOR, ABALA ANIKOKO, EJEME-ANIOGO, ILLAH, OBI, ANUREGU, ONITSHA-UKWUANI, UKALA-OKWUTE, ABAVO, ANINWAMA-JETA, EJEME-UNOR, ISELEGU, OBIKWELE, ONOGBOKOR, UKWUANI, ABI, ANINWALO, EKPON, ISHEAGU, OBINUMBA, ONUSETI, OLIGBO, UKWUNZU, ABODEI, ANIOFU, EMU, ISIKITI-ISHIAGU, OGBE, ONYA, UKWU-OBA, ABOH, ANIOGO, EZI, ISA-OGWASHI, OGODE, OTOLOKPO, UNOR, ADAI, ANIOMA, EZIOKPOR, ISSELE-AZAGBA, OGWASHI-UKU, OTULU, UMU-EBU ADONISHAKA, ANWAI, EZIONUM, ISSELE-MKPITIME, OGUME, OWA-ABI, UMUABU, ADONTA, ASABA, EWULU, ISSELE-UKU, OKO-AMAKOM, OWA-ALERO, UNUAJA, AFOR, ASABA-ASE, EKPECHO, ISUMPE, OKO ANALA, OWA NTA, UMUKWEM, AGBOR, ASABA-UBULU, EMUHU, KWALE, OKO/OGBELE, OWA-OFIE, UMUKWOTA, AKAKPAN-ISUMPE, ASHAKA, ETUA ETITI, MBIRI, OKOTOMI, OWA-OYIBO, UMUNEDE, AKARA,I ASHAMA, ETUA UKPO, NDEMIRI, OKPA, OWERRI-OLUBOR, UMUOLU, AKOKU, ATUMA, IBODONI, NDOKWA, OKPANAM, UDUMEJE, UMUTE, AKUKU-AKUMAZI, ATUMA-IGA, IBRODE, NKPOLENYI, OKWE, UGBOBA, UMUTU, AKUMAZI-UMUOCHA, AZAGBA-OGWASHI, IBUSA, NSUKWA, OLIGBO, UGBODU, USHIE, AKWUKU-IGBO, EBEDI, IDUMUESAH, OBETI, OOLOR-OGWASHI, UGBOLU, UTAGBA-OGBE, ALIDINMA, EBU, IDUMU-OGO, OBODO-ETI, OLOR-USISA, UBULU-UKWU, UTAGBA-UNOR, ALIHAGU, EDO-OGWASHI, IDUMUJE-UNOR, OBI ANYIMA, OLU-ODU, UBULU-OKITI, UTCHI, ALASIME, EGBUDU-AKAH, IDUMUJE-UGBOKO, OBIARUKU, OMAJA, UBULU-UNOR, UBULU-OKITI, UTE ARU, AMAI, EGBUDU-OGWASHI, IGBANKE, OBIOR, ONICHA-UKU, UBULUBU, UTE ENUGU, ANAKWA, EKWUEMUSANA, IGBODO, OBI UMUTU, ONICHA OLONA, UGILIAMAI, UTEGBEJE, USISA, UTUOKU, UTE-OKPU.
Local Government Areas
The Anioma region does not comprise of a single Local Government Area but are situated in nine different Local Areas within Delta state which comprises of 25 local government areas in all and are as follows:
(i) Aniocha North
(ii) Aniocha South
(iii) Ika south
(iv) Ika North-East
(v) Ndokwa East
(vi) Ndokwa West
(viii) Oshimili North
(ix) Oshimili South
Agitation for the creation of Anioma state
The agitations for the creation of a separate state for this Igbo people of Anioma have yielded nothing but at best the situation of the people in the present Delta state. This agitation began in 1951 when Hon. Frank Oputa Ututu and and Hon Oki from Ndokwa both moved a motion for the then Western House of Assembly in which they canvassed for a separate province for the people. It is remarkable to note that at this time the people were largely balkanized and merged with Benin and Warri provinces the British even defeating Anioma during the Ekwumekwu wars because they feared that if left united the Anioma people could once again rise and formidably defeat them. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his Action Congress Group was to disallow the creation of a separate province for Anioma, an action seriously viewed as a serious threat and marginalization of the Igbo way back. Ever since, the last has not been heard of the agitation for the creation of Anioma state.
Marginalization of the Anioma region
Anioma like their Igbo kith and kins in the Southeast are currently being marginalized in the present federal state of Nigeria. Anioma thus remains one of the least developed regions of Nigeria. Infrastructures and basic amenities are lacking in the region and good roads can hardly be found in towns and communities of Anioma. It is surprising that oil abounds in commercial quantities in parts of Anioma but the federal government of Nigeria has done nothing to uphold the standard of amenities in this region. Several of the towns and communities of this region are lacking of good roads that vehicles can access. The Oniocha-Obomkpa road for instance, has since stopped to exist and individuals in the town can hardly point to where the road was hitherto lying. The greatest threat to the existence of towns like Ibusa, Ogwashi-Uku, Ilah, Akwukwu-Uku, are lack of water. Sadly the indigenes of these big towns still visit streams to fetch drinkable water for consumption.
Similarly, a town like Okpanam has only one road in which the town can be accessed. The presence of the state government is not being felt in all of these areas. It is appalling that streetlights cannot be found in almost every part of Anioma excepting Asaba not even in Ibusa, which are only some few miles away from the state capital. Roads and bridges are also not found connecting the various towns and communities of the region, the therefore takes a very long time to network even the nearest neighbouring communities. This is the fate of Anioma people.
This area has been marginalized politically, economically and educationally too. Ibusa as a town very close to Asaba cannot boast of as much as six public schools. Far less of this number of schools exists in Oko-Anala and the other three Oko communities. Worse still, seats and desks are highly in less existence in these schools. Politically, the governments of Nigeria from the years of Awolowo and his Action Group have continued to deny the people the creation of Anioma state as demanded by the people in spite of the clarity that a group of people are given definition or recognition on the basis of their history, culture and history and geography. This basis has been utilized in the creation of states in Nigeria. But the fate of the Anioma people have been grotesquely denied, repressed and seemingly rejected for no just reason but only because it is part of the marginalization of the Igbo. Even as we are aware that a people are defined by the way they perceive themselves. Early philosophers and thinkers of since justified this. For the Anioma people of Nigeria it is a different game.
It is also a known fact that the political activities and ambitions of these people have always ended below the executive leadership of the state because of certain feelings that the Igbo region cannot have their one of their towns as the state capital and another of their person as the governor of the state. This feeling implicitly and explicitly creates a development that may never see any Anioma indigene emerge as the governor of the state if left unattended.
The Anioma people and Associations will definitely need to put up social and political fights to address this ugly situation. Only a dynamic leadership of the Anioma can help achieve this. The Anioma again will need to congregate wherever they find themselves and seek credible and potent means of battling the development bereft of violence though we know that the region has never in its entire history been linked to any kind of violence. The region should maintain this clean sheet. Individuals and organizations must develop Anioma homeland. The region has only seen a twilight of development through self-development be the social and political organizations of the region must do much more to attract the interest of the state and federal governments to the flight of the people.
Happily, the Organization For the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC) and the Anioma Association USA and many more Organizations have begun this step in the right direction to see to the development of the area. These various Associations should come up with developmental projects to develop these communities but care should be taken not to duplicate the efforts of those at home and concentration on any particular area of the region to the detriment of others must also be avoided. The Western Igbo who live in the South-south must be separated through the creation of Anioma state. The Anioma must work harder towards this area. Let every Anioma sons and daughters be aware of this.
Some personalities of Anioma origin
The Anioma region is blessed with abundant human resources all of who have served this country in different endeavours. Some of them are as follows:
(i) Professor Pat Utomi
(ii) Chief Sabastine Adigwe
(iii) Chief Godwill Obielum
(iv) Professor Augustine Esogbue
(v) Chief Sunny Odogwu,
(vi) Chief sunny Okogwu
(vii) Hon. Ndudi Elumelu,
(viii) Professor Buchi Emecheta
(ix) Tony Elumelu
(x) Austine Jay Jay Okocha
(xi) Nduka Ugbade
(xii) Professor Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
(xiii) Barr. Peter Nwaoboshi
(xiv) Dr. Ify Okowa
(xv) Mr. Frank Atuche
(xvi) Mr. Jim Ovia
(xvii) Dr. Ifeanyi Okpalobi
(xviii) Chief Benjamin Elue
(xix) Dr Kanirum Osia
(xx) Chief Tony Azuya