By Johnpaul Anih, 12-10-2020
It has quite often crossed my mind how those of us from Anambra State resident in Enugu State – and we run into hundreds and thousands – have become thoroughly spoilt by Enugu State people, such that most of us seem to have lost memory of our State of origin.
I, for one, must confess that I am a victim of this grand ‘deception’ by the government and people of Enugu State.
Come to think of it. As a citizen of Anambra State, precisely from Mbaukwu in Awka South local government, for the past 27 years that Enugu State was created from the old Anambra State, I have not for once entertained, not even toyed with the thought of relocating to my home State.
And I guess I am not the only one so ‘deceived’. Not when I know that in spite of the creation of new Anambra State nearly three decades ago, more than 90% of Ndi Anambra have refused to relocate to our home State, including civil servants, who have continued to travel from Enugu to Awka and back every blessed day, either for business or for government work. And what is more, even our own late Ikemba Nnewi, Eze Igbo Gburugburu, just like late Great Zik of Africa also ‘forgot’ that he was onye Anambra.
Recall that shortly after his return from exile, the great Ikemba faced a celebrated battle with the then Lagos State Military Government over his father’s Villaska Lodge in Lagos where he resided in the first few years of his return from exile. But at the end of the hard-worn victory over the property, Ojukwu decided to relocate to Enugu, and since then, used Enugu as his base in all his business and political transactions until his death.
I can swear that all this is not because Ojukwu and the rest of us don’t love our dear “light of the nation.” It cannot be that because every Anambrarian is ready to spill his or her blood for our fatherland.
Taking myself as a case study, I believe it is just that the average Anambra man or woman resident in Enugu have not feel the need or the pressure to relocate or leave Enugu for any other place. I believe it is just that Anambrarians in Enugu feel very comfortable and enjoy the spirit of accommodation and hospitality of Enugu State people, including their successive governments.
My personal experience in the past three decades supports this proposition. During the politics of the late 80’s in Enugu, I was elected deputy chairman of the then National Republican Convention, Enugu North with the current Senator Gil Nnaji as Secretary. When I contested for council and House of Assembly elections in 1987and 1992 respectively, nearly 80% per cent of people who voted for me in both cases were from the present Enugu State.
I recall one particular incident in 1991, shortly after the creation of Enugu State. Myself and another colleague from the present Enugu State had an issue over our consultancy services to the NUJ, Enugu State which had an indigene of the present Enugu State, Comrade Emma Ikwueze as chairman. The matter reached a point where the NUJ Executive Committee scheduled a meeting to deliberate on our case.
At a point during their meeting, they invited my colleague to the chairman’s office. As he was leaving the hall where both us had been waiting, he jeered at me, as he told me he was joining his brothers upstairs to decide my fate and my continued service to the NUJ. I felt a palpable sense of humiliation and despondency. About 3 hours later, I was also invited to the meeting. I entered the Chairman’s office with a sullen face as I braced to face further humiliation from the all-Enugu State committee. But to my greatest surprise and relief, the NUJ verdict went in my favour, with a thorough dress down of my colleague for a false claim against me. That is the Enugu Spirit.
For the past 28 years till date, I have a bus stop named after me – Omife bus stop – along Obiagu Road. I had a street at Abakpa Nike named after me which was later renamed Crescent. There is a street named after Mbaukwu, my home town at Independent Layout and another at Emene. It is also important to note that many streets and institutions in Enugu are named after many Anambrarians. I doff my hat for them,very friendly and easy going people that one can hardly say goodbye to them.
Recall that before the Civil war, an Hausa man was elected Mayor of Enugu Municipal Council.
That is to say that the spirit of Enugu people which translates to hospitality and accommodation did not begin today. It began long before the creation of Enugu and Anambra .
Go to anywhere in Enugu State, markets, hospitals, schools, government offices, churches, you will not find the faintest inkling of discrimination or bad blood against Anambra people or indeed any non-indigene. Reason therefore why ndi Anambra are so happy and comfortable in Enugu that some of us often forget we are not indigenes of Enugu State. Although we never really forget our roots.
Mazi Omife Omife
Mbuze Na Mbaukwu