The struggle of who gets what in Onitsha, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre has again become the lead discussion in Anambra State.
This fight is always divided along two parallel groups; the indigenes and non-indigenes (popularly referred to as Ndi Onitsha and Ndi Igbo) and usually gets hotter in election seasons.
As the 2015 Elections draw nearer, the apex social-political group in Onitsha, De Great Onicha Ado Patriots (De GOAP) has declared and I quote;
Never again shall we suffer marginalization in our God given land in the hands of people who seize our opportunities and supplant our resources with their INFERIOR alternatives”.
That is not a bad declaration by a group with the mandate to protect the interest Onicha Ado Kingdom.
However, in making the above assertion, De GOAP forgot that in Anambra State as a whole, Onitsha with less than 5000 adults has gained most in both elective and appointive positions unlike any other community from 1999 to 2014. This covers both the State and Federal positions.
In as much as one is not expected to sleep-on while a visitor takes over his native land, one need not disregard the innovative blessings that come with guests in the land.
The question of who is being marginalized would be resolved to point zero if people are allowed a little reflection to the past and present share of opportunities.
Currently, the most respected Igwe Alfred Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha is the chairman of Sabmiller Breweries where majority of the workers are Onitsha indigenes while Chuma Umunna, another great son of Onitsha, represents Anambra State’s interest in the brewery firm.
The yet-to-be forgotten Mnadinuju’s Administration had more than six Ndi Onitsha holding critical positions. Jessy Balonwu (Commisioner for Education), Linda Ikpeazu (House of Representatives), Ifeanyi Ibegbu and Goddy Ejiamike ( State House of Assembly), Alex Obiogbolu (Chairman, LGSC and ANSEPA), Elsie Ikemefuna (Head of Service) and many others.
From 2003 – 2007, Mr Peter Obi and Dr Chris Ngige had enough of Ndi Onitsha in their “shared” administration. Just to mention a few names; Hon Mike Balonwu (Speaker), Hons Jessie Balonwu and Gozi Agbakoba (House of Representatives), E. D. Chukwuma Esq (Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice), Chile Alex Chukwurah (SSG),Bright Osemeka (Chairman Onitsha North Local Government), Elsie Ikemefuna (continued as Head of Service and later become Commissioner for Youths and Sports) and Mike Okaka (Diaspora).
During this period, Sen Joy Emordi was at the Senate.
The 2007 – 2011 administration of Mr Obi (Okwute Ndi Igbo) retained virtually all the above positions for Ndi Onitsha with Hon Egwuatu (Mgbirigba) coming in as a member of the State House of Assembly.
In all these elective and appointive positions, the “blue-blooded” Onitsha indigenes do not have the voting strength themselves because our population is not up to one-fourth of the voting population.
Interestingly, those we refer to as “inferior blooded” civilians (Non-Indigenes) do the voting or rather accepted the imposition as the case were. Also, the appointments were done by “inferior blooded” governors.
Since 2011 to date, we have Sen Margret Chuba Okadigbo at the Senate, Hon Cyril Egwuatu in the Federal House while Hon Chigbo Enwezor and Hon Beverly Ikpeazu are members of the State House of Assembly.
The most respected woman in Anambra Politics, Mrs Azuka Enemuo remains the Commissioner for Local Government with Hon Chude Anali as the Attorney General of the State and Commissioner of Justice.
Mrs Ngozi Melifonwu (nee Ikpeazu) is the Chairman of Civil Service Commission.
In Onitsha North Local Government, the Chairman and 13 out of the 15 councilors are Ndi Onitsha while in Onithsa South, the Deputy Chairman and 2 other councilors are also “blu-blooded”.
So why the marginalization alarm by De GOAP, we must thread with care to avoid arousing harmful sentiments that will sweep us away.
Infact, by contest, the Local Government Chairman wouldn’t have won except for the so called “inferior blooded” governor who installed Hon Egbuna.
Same goes for the House of Assembly seats (Onitsha North 1 and 2 Constituencies) whose population is majorly made up of the “inferior blooded” non-indigenes of Onitsha.
By numerical strength, none of these elective posts would have gone victorious for the winner, not even possible in 2015 or in the near future.
Governor Peter Obi who made all these possible is an “inferior blooded” individual.
So, who is fooling who and who is marginalizing who?
Out of the 177 communities in Anambra State, none has had it so good as our own Onitsha even when our population is infinitesimal compared to such Local Governments like Nnewi, Awka, etc.
The fact is that Onitsha (North and South) comprise 99.5% foreigners, the “inferior blooded” non-indigenes.
They have the voting power and should not be provoked to use it against Ndi Onitsha.
Ikem Egbuna writes from Isiokwe, Onitsha