Anioma people are an igbo people located primarily in Delta State, Nigeria. They are referred to as Western Igbo, being separated from the Igbo in the east by the River Niger. They make up about one-third of Delta State and, for administrative purposes, are referred to as “Delta North,” thus contrasting Delta Central and Delta South, areas densely inhabited by the Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, and Itsekiri, the other ethnic groups inhabiting Delta State. The Anioma region has a total population of 1,114,055, not including those Anioma communities located outside of Delta State.
The Anioma populace make up small numbers in neighbouring Edo State, specifically in Igbanke,Ute-Oheze, Iru, Obagie N’Oheze, Ozo and Ekpon. The term “Anioma” means "good land" in Igbo language and coincidentally, it is an acronym derived from the four original local government areas that make up Anioma, i.e., (A) for Aniocha, (N) for Ndokwa, (I) for Ika and (O) for Oshimili, M and A being common denominators found in the original four local government areas. The coinage was made by the founding father, Chief Dennis Osadebay, in 1951 and has remained the preferred indigenous name by which the people collectively refer to themselves. Sentimentally, there are also Anioma communities in parts of certain towns in Anambra State, namely Onitsha, Ogbaru, Akwukwu Obosi, Ozobulu and Ogidi. They can also be found in the Oguta and Ndoni areas of Imo and Rivers States, respectively. Anioma people, who had one identity prior to the coming of the Europeans, were divided after they lost the Ekumeku War against the British imperialism, in 1914, after 31 years of fighting.
The Ekemeku War was the longest resistance against British imperialism in Nigeria.
Anioma is located in the areas of the West Basin of River Niger, south-south within the present Delta state of Nigeria, it encompasses a land mass of about 6,300 km2. In the political matters of the state, Anioma is often referred to as Delta North as against the other peoples known as the Delta South and Delta Central in the same state. Anioma is bounded on the East by Anambra State, south-east by Imo and Rivers States, south Bayelsa State, south-west by Isoko, west by Urhobo people, north-west by Edo State and north by Kogi State. Anioma may therefore be regarded as highly contiguous to very many neighbours ethnic groups. The people have drawn experiences as a result of lying contiguous to numerous other towns, communities and states which characterizes the Anioma as one of the most peaceful regions in the country. (See Kunirum Osia, Anioma Association Inc, USA, May 24, 1997)
The Federal Government of Nigeria makes a distinction between Igbo, Ukwuani and Ika on cultural grounds and delineates them the status of distinct ethnic groups, yet the respective languages form part of what is known as the Igbo language cluster. Nigerians can always refer to the constitution should the need arise. A pure dialect of the Igbo language, Enuani, and two Igboid languages, Ukwuani and Ika, are the primary indigenous languages. There are also small numbers of Olukumi, Ozzara and Igala-speaking communities.
Traditional life and culture
Anioma social structure is dominated by the use of lineages which are based loosely on the concept of uno, eboh', and idumu, which are major blood lineages; while ogbe and obodo are open and much more political. Uno is a small family unit comprising husband, wife, and children. The next lineage was Eboh, which includes the primary or nuclear family, the daughter or son in law, and the grandparents and the grandchildren. The Ogbe is a large structure which allowed non-blood relatives; it comprises the Idumu and some outsiders and it is best classified as a quarter in terms of demographics. The maximal concept is one that looks like a small town; this is the Obodo.
Civil War Genocides
The genocide of Anioma by Gen. Murtala Mohammed and Major Gen. Ibrahim Haruna (Retd), during the Nigerian Civil War started on the 21 of September, 1967 on the recapture of Benin City from the Biafrans sweeping large Anioma towns of Asaba, Ogwashi-Uku, Ibusa, Otutu, Ishiagu, Igbodo, Aboh and Ushisha but the massacres carried out in Asaba remains the most severe and unforgettable in which mostly helpless women, youths and children were killed in rapidity by the federal troops. It has been noted that the massacres were organized and mostly carried out under the supervision of Maj Gen Ibrahim Haruna (Retd) and the reason was that Gen Murtala Muhammed was aggrieved and suspicious of the Anioma as having aided their Igbo kinsmen to invade the Mid west.
Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Retd) the then Head of State would later apologize to the Igbo community, while Major-General Ibrahim Haruna, the General officer Commanding (GOC) Two Division of the Army during the Civil War while testifying at the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission Panel aka Oputa Panel held in 2004, insistently maintained that he had no regret for the Asaba massacres in which the Igbo were killed by his troops since it was motivated by sense of duty to protect the unity of the country, he stated this under cross examination by Ohanaeze Ndiigbo group.
After the independence of Nigeria, few Nigerian groups desired their own identity separate from forced colonial political and social institutions. The Anioma were no exception. As a wave of demand for state creation in the 1970s permeated the Nigerian political landscape, included in this movement was the yearning for Ndi-Anioma, land of the Aniomas as a separate political state for the Anioma people. This agitation gave birth to the demand of Anioma State, which though remains unrealized. In 2007, the National Assembly of Nigeria announced its willingness to allow the creation of one more State for the Igbo people, a committee to adopt a State for the Igbo was set up and led by Chief Emmnauel Iwuanyawu, this committee which failed in adopting any State for the region, threw out Anioma, stating that the creation of Anioma State would amount to an additional State for South-South region of the country. The Anioma people have renewed this agitation once again following another recent announcement by the National Assembly that seven more States may be created in the country to create balance among the various geopolitical regions in the country. Among pro Anioma Activist is Henry Ogochukwu have been promoting the creation of Anioma State through Anioma Peoples Association. Henry Ogochukwu is the President General of Anioma Peoples Association
Anioma in Delta State
Asaba (an Anioma city) has been the capital of Delta State since the creation of the state in August 1991, by the then Military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd). This development continues to generate criticism from the people of the Delta south notably Professor Itsay Sagay, an Itsekiri, Dr. Temi Akporhonor and Professor Obaro Ikime backed by Urhobo Historical Society. In an article in The Guardian, August 15, 2002 Professor Itsay Sagay openly campaigned for the relocation of the state capital from the Anioma city of Asaba to the town of Warri in Delta south. This was preceded by the reaction of Dr Cyril Uchenna Gwam published in the defunct Post Express Newspaper of June 1999 and several internet forums in reaction to the publication of Obaro Ikime in which he argued amongst others that centrality factor had never been the major criteria for the location of State or Federal capitals. This was also followed by another article be Clem Okonji published in The Guardian, July 8, 2002 in which he maintained that Asaba had come to stay as the capital of Delta State. He further stressed that the peoples constituting the state are all located within the Delta region. Reactions in favour of the stay of Asaba as the capital of the state has since been supported by Henry Ogochukwu, Michael Ozah, Emeka Esogbue, Tony Odiadi, Emma Okocha and others alike. Dr. Temi Akporhonor would call for a political arrangement whereby governorship power would remain with what he termed 'The real Deltan' because according to him the capital of the state is located in the Igbo speaking town of Anioma. (Whither Delta state?, The Guardian, May 23, 2002) The strong resistance of this call has ensured that Asaba remains the state capital. Though all would unilaterally admit that a separate creation of another state from the present Delta State to constitute Anioma with the capital at Asaba, and Delta with state capital at Warri is necessary.
Anioma in Ohanaeze Ndigbo
On November 29, 2008, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization announced the election of Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, an Anioma indigene as its President-General to pilot its affairs for the next two years. He was nominated by Delta State branch of Ohanaeze as their consensus candidate in a resolution reached at the palace of the Asagba of Asaba after the position was zoned to Anioma, one of the seven units that make up Ohanaeze Ndigbo. But in his acceptance speech, Uwechue expressed gratitude to all and called for unity among Igbo, which is said to possess the talent to and wealth it would take to take to address national issues, while also noting that the position given to him has created confidence that the Igbo from Delta State are accepted as brothers and sisters in Ohanaeze. Finally, he promised not to disappoint Anioma people as the race is for Anioma home and abroad.
Anioma has abundant oil deposits particularly in Ndokwa land, Akumazi, Umunede, Ute-okpu, Ute-erume, Ute-Ogbeje, Ekuku-Agbor, Nsukwa, Olodu, Ewulu, Idumuesah, Ejeme and other Anioma regions. Records also indicate that oil was discovered in Ubulu-Uno and Ubulu-Uku in 1958 by Shell B P Petroleum Company two years after the first discovery was made in Oloibiri now in Bayelsa state, but exploration of the oil was not carried out by the Federal Government. Anioma region is also rich in other mineral resources such as rubber.
Notable Anioma people
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- Prof. Steve Agwo Okecha, renowned academic, author of international repute and elder statesman
- Dennis Osadebe, politician, poet, journalist and former premier of the now defunct Mid-Western Region of Nigeria, which now comprises Edo and Delta State.
- Sebastine Okoh >> SSA To Deputy Senate President ( CEO Stiinos)
- Zulu Sofola, the first published female Nigerian playwright and dramatist and first female Professor of Theater Arts in Africa.
- Buchi Emecheta, Nigerian-born British novelist
- Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
- Gift Kenneth >> CEO GSP Global Services
- Ifeanyi Okowa, former Nigerian Senator and Executive Governor of Delta State
- Austine "Jay-Jay" Okocha, former Captain of Super Eagles of Nigeria
- Sunday Oliseh, former Captain of super Eagles of Nigeria
- Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, former Super Eagles captain and Malian National Football Team Coach
- Nduka Ugbade, Nigeria's former football player and the first African to lift the world cup
- Demas Nwoko, prominent Sculptor of Nigeria
- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the current Managing Director of World Bank
- Elizabeth Isichei, prominent historian
- Obi Prof Joseph Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba
- Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum
- Jim Ovia, M/D Zenith Bank
- Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation
- Air-Marshal Paul Dike, former Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria NASA
- Joy Ogwu, former Mangaging Director of Nigeria Institute of International Affairs
- Patrick Utomi, Presidential Candidate and Founder of Lagos Business School
- Phillip Asiodu, former Federal Minister
- Nduka Odizor, former Lawn tennis player
- Maryam Babangida, wife of General Ibrahim Babangida
- Chief. Sonny Iwedike Odogwu, business mogul
- Chukwurah Joseph Udeh OFR, former Comptroller-General Nigerian Immigration Service
- Obi senator Nosike Ikpo, former Senator of the Federal Republic
- Chief Sabastine Adigwe, former MD, Afribank NIgeria PLC
- Godswill Obielum, former Governorship Aspirant, Delta State
- Peter Okocha, Governorship aspirant, Delta State and Business Mongul
- Eddy Egwuenu, distinguished banker, co-founder Zenith Bank
- Dr. Jude Chukwudi Dike, energy economist and prominent youth leader
- Comrade Henry Ogochukwu, President General, Anioma People's Association and the President Skill and Ideas Development Initiatives
- Dr. Newton Jibunor, famous Sahara traveller
- Dr. Cyril Uchenna Gwam, diplomat, international civil servant and international environmentalist
- Bonny B. N. Umeadi PhD, Technologist and Inventor of Micro/Nanosensor Devices to monitor oil and gas pipeline system
- Comrade Akamesike Manuel O'coney Founder Anioma Voice Worldwide Inc. The common online umbrella body of all citizens of Anioma. Also Publisher of Anioma Voice Newsmagazine.
- Dr Uche Honnah, President of Anioma, USA
- Arc. Kester Ifeadi, Chairman/CEO Contemporary Group and President Organisation For the Advancement of Anioma Culture(OFAAC)
- Engr. Emma Onyekwene, MD/CEO, Coolman Oil Services
- Chief G.N. Ogwude (Late), Mathematician and Academician
- Colonel Joseph "Hannibal" Achuzie
- Chief Epiphany Azinge, a Professor and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Former Director of Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies.(NIALS).
Izu Anioma The apex body of the people of Anioma
- "ANIOMA : WE ARE IGBOS OF WESTERN NIGERIA". 3 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Federal Republic of Nigeria, Official gazette". 94 (24). 2007. Cite journal requires
- Ohadike, Don (1994). Anioma: A Social History of the Western Igbo People. ISBN 0-8214-1073-3.
- Warri[permanent dead link]
- Udeani, Chibueze. Inculturation as Dialogue: Igbo Culture and the Message of Christ. p. 11. ISBN 9042022299.
- Ikime O. (ed). Ground work of Nigerian history. Heineman educational books (Nigeria) PLC, Ibadan, 1980: 89-121.
- Onwuejeogwu MA. Igbo civilization: Nri kingdom and hegemony; London, Ethnographica, 1981.
- Obi Efeizomor II (Obi of Owa). Community development in Owa kingdom – the Nigerian factor. University of Benin press; Benin City-Nigeria; 1994: 303.