Posted in Uncategorized

The Coming Green Colonialism


COP25We have entered the era of Nature-based colonialism. Call it the Green Colonialism. The gloves are coming off. The climate crisis in the world is being approached as a mere unfolding change, as business opportunities and not as an emergency that requires drastic action. Nations are comfortable to spend decades on talks and pretend they have ample time to procrastinate or deflect actions. However, this is not a time for propping up fictional ideas and carbon mathematics as though the cycles of Mother Earth are ordered according to some calculus or algorithms.

The climate COP25 held in Madrid is drawing to a close as this is being penned. Not much progress has happened at the negotiations. Indeed, the technocrats who are saddled with actually negotiating the various clauses of the Paris Agreement’s rule book could not conclude work on a number of articles and pushed them over to be…

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The Guardians of Neocolonialism


Let us begin by saying that colonialism is not yet history in Africa, or in the world. The global trade architecture has been in place for centuries and has been engineered by transnational corporations and international financial institutions as the chief guardians of neocolonialism and institutionalised thievery. Their interests are assured through the preservation of these mechanisms.

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) grew out of deep colonial roots. They are products of imperial geopolitics whose levers they hold, manipulate and tilt to suit their profit-making propensities. They have succeeded thus far because of careful modes of manipulation, erasure and replacement of imaginations as well as histories. The strength of neocolonialism lies in the perpetuation of coloniality. 

Coloniality, for those not familiar with the concept, has been described as “the living legacy of colonialism in contemporary societies in the form of social discrimination that outlived formal colonialism and became integrated in succeeding social…

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In Quiet places is the Lord to be found….in and with true faith is His presence felt

God was not in the thunder, he was not in the noise, nor in all the razmataz…, He was in the calm whisper of the gentle breeze! Message? Our God is around us and if we find Him not, it is because we are because we are looking for Him in the wrong places and looking for wrong signs of His presence.

He is to beheld in and with and through faith. Peter did and walked on water. When he allowed his faith to desert him, he started to sink.

May genuine faith that finds expression in simple acts and in moments of reflective silence be ours today and always.

Posted in Uncategorized

Effective Advocacy









uWhat is advocacy? Key features of Advocacy

A series of political actions, conducted by interested citizens and stakeholders

to transform power relations.

Purpose is to achieve specific changes that benefit a defined population Advocacy is targeted at decision makers

and is a deliberate targeted process for influencing decision making and policy changes


u What is advocacy? For example,

a set of organised activities designed to influence  

Save the children, a children focused organization defines advocacy thus – Advocacy is

ü the i policies rand actionsi of iothers lto achieve positive

in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:Have their voice heard


uWhat is the purpose of advocacy?

u Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:

Ø Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them. Ø Defend and safeguard their rights.

Ø Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.


u What is so distinct about advocacy? Eg, how is advocacy different from….? u Lobbying?

u Public relations? u Sensitization?

u Community mobilization? u Social marketing?

u Awareness creation? u Fund raising

Use Group work and discussion approach


u What is so distinct about advocacy? Eg, how is advocacy different from….? The following questions can help us in finding what is distinct about advocacy

u What is the target audience of Public relations campaigns? of Sensitization exercises ? of Community mobilization? of Social marketing? of awareness creation? of Fund raising campaigns

u What are the goals and what activities are carried out for each of these u What power relations are involved

Again, use Group work and discussion approach


uAdvocacy? ??? Three Questions uWhat do we want to change ? uWho can change it?

uHow can it be changed – what action is needed?

These three questions are central to all advocacy efforts

Text Box: 1.1What change do we want? What is going wrong?

uProvide strong, unambiguous evidence

What must change?

uBe very clear about what must stop, what must change

or what alternative solution should be adopted

You can do it!

Text Box: 1.1Who can make that change? Who has the power to make the change?

uBe clear that they can actually make the change

Who are our allies and opponents?

uBe clear about who we work with and who we have to convince

You can do it!

Text Box: 1.1How can we make them change? How are we going to win?

uPick the most effective tactics for your target uProduce a clear and effective plan of action

How will you know if the change has happened?

uProduce a clear plan for advocacy monitoring and evaluation

You can do it!


u For social change u To get committed u To galvanize action

u To move policy change u In our case, girl child

What do we ask for?

u Girl child enrollment u More kids in school

u Complete fee abolition

u Engagement of more female teachers u Better school infrastructure

u More inclusive school architecture


ACTION LETTER and Policy briefs

uLetters and

upolicy Briefs

are the most frequently used advocacy tools


u Identify yourself as a constituent. Politicians are only compelled to respond to constituent mail u Use evidence that is live and relevant

u Be brief and simple. Try to keep the letter to one page or two at the most

u State and report your position. Always state your position in your opening paragraph and again in the closing paragraph u Personalize your letter. If using a form letter make changes to it and make it your own.

u Personalized letters carry much more weight

u Be polite and avoid ultimatums and rudeness. Everyone responds better to praise then criticism. Rudeness does little to create change

u Do not enclose additional material. These are rarely read.

If you have an excellent resource you wish to share, mention it in your letter and offer to send a copy if desired


uDo not exaggerate or lie. Stick to facts and personal experiences. Fabrications could ruin your credibility uMake sure your message is timely.


uMonitoring and tracking

uWho monitors must be ( objective, impartial, accurate and informed uSend a copy of your letter to your local policy makers/CEOs/managers uAcknowledge any response


u Your name and address u Date

u Name u Title

u Address

u Salutation (Dear ______ )

u 1st Paragraph: Let the reader know what your concern is.

u 2nd Paragraph: You need to let the reader know the importance of your concerns and any impact the concern may have on the community.

u 3rd Paragraph: Thank your reader for taking the time to read your letter and make sure you re-state your concern. Provide a way for him to respond to you letter. Always add that you look forward to hearing their response on the issue. Now they know you expect an answer.

u Sincerely, u Your Name

u Your Address u Phone number u Email address


·    Be brief

· Bold but politely · Be Confident

·    With evidence

·    With best practices example


· Use some ego massaging · Build rapport

·    Arouse interest

· Appeal to enlightened self interest · Build empathy

Use emotional intelligence

Posted in Basic Education, governance, Politics

Towards Developing a Training Package for House Committee members on Basic Education


Noel Ihebuzor

Interest in increasing the effectiveness of actors and duty bearers in the public domain has continued to grow since its beginnings following the launch of the movement in new public management (Hood, 1991; Gruening, 2001). The advantages claimed for a New Public management (NPM) approach in governance include the following – greater efficiency, greater focus on performance and results as well as their objective measurement, improved use of resources, these including human, financial and material resources. Hand in hand with these developments in public sector management has been a call for greater value for money in the use of resources appropriated by governments in the provision of basic social services such as Basic Education, primary health care as well as water and environmental sanitation. Members of parliament have important roles not only in ensuring that budgets are approved and appropriated for the provision of such basic social services but also in seeing that the approved budgets are utilized in manners consistent with the best practices in public finance management (PFM). Such roles ensure that cost savings, cost efficiencies and service maximization are achieved in the use of public resources and assets.  

It is such development thinking that informs the support that development partners working through relevant ministries continue to provide to the training and sensitization of law makers in Nigeria. UNICEF, for instance, has supported the design and development of a training manual for the training and sensitization of law makers from the state houses of assembly who are members of house committee on education. The purpose is to aid in their understanding of the processes primarily around the UBE act as well as other education documents/plans as a necessary step strengthening their capacity to provide required legislation and oversight for the education sector.

The training/sensitization programme has two objectives:

  • to facilitate an enhanced understanding of the education sector and its recurring challenges.
  • to acquaint law makers on the role they should play to protect education especially at the basic level through legislation and oversight.

Basic Premises

Basic Education is the foundation of all education. If the foundation is weak, then the entire edifice risks instability and possible eventual collapse. It is therefore important that this substructure of education is solidly built. Secondly, basic education caters for the education for all at the base. It is thus the level of education with the greatest egalitarian relevance and appeal. It is the level of education that any one with an interest in inclusive education will first to need to tackle and get right. A society with an interest in stimulating economic growth through investment in education will also need to invest in basic education as it has been shown to have multiplier effects of all other aspects of education and uptake of basic social services. All the thinking above inform global interest in universal basic education as one lever for vital socio-economic transformation.

The UBE programme in Nigeria has its parentage in a number of human rights documents and development program thinking. Most human rights declarations make the important distinction between those who have rights holders and those whose custodial, constitutional and social functions are to ensure that those rights are met. Such persons are known as duty bearers. There is now evidence that the capacity and ability of duty bearers to effectively discharge their obligations to duty holders is a function of several factors  –

  • Understanding and appreciation of those rights
  • Importance and significance of those rights
  • Awareness of and Empathy with the plight of rights holder
  • Sense of Solidarity with rights holder
  • Level of Education and information of the basis of those rights
  • Knowledge of what to do and who to partner with to further those rights etc

In furthering the actualization of the rights of rights holders, duty bearers carry out a number of linked functions which include

  • Service provision
  • Procurement
  • Service supervision and monitoring,
  • Advocacy and awareness creation,
  • Alliance building and networking
  • Standards setting 
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Law making        
  • Mentoring, etc

Though all these functions are important, perhaps the most important is that of supervision. Supervision ensures compliance with agreed standards, proper resource utilisation, service provider conduct and presence, effective service delivery and waster minimisation. This is true whether we are dealing with duty bearer functions in the areas of water and sanitation, housing, leisure, recreation, nutrition or education. Indeed, in basic education, supervision by duty bearers leads to greater value for money and to ensuring that public resources set aside for or dedicated to basic education are optimally utilized.

Of all duty bearers, members of the house of representatives, especially those in committees charged with oversight functions for Basic education, have a critical role to play in the sustenance of BASIC EDUCATION.  They can carry out these roles in several ways, some of which have been mention in passing earlier in our general consideration of the roles of duty bearers in the provision of universal basic education. With specific regard to this subsector of basic social services, members of the House committee can get involved in the following ways

Advocating with the Executive for improved budgets for basic education

Insisting on improved public finance management as it concerns basic education at all levels of the value chain

Moving bills for basic education management, administration and or improvement, be these in the areas of minimum standards, Teacher hiring and firing, Teacher Incentives, Teacher Qualifications, Conditions for PRESET and INSET

Monitoring resource utilization in basic education

Lobbying, influencing and mobilizing other policy makers, the executive, the private sector and other social influencers for necessary policy changes that would advance all aspects of basic education be it Access, Retention, Quality and Completion.

To carry out these many functions, such House committee members need to equipped through exposure to a learning package which blends elements of sensitisation and guided learning experiences to acquire certain skills, affects and capacities.

The rest of this paper describes the steps taken in the design and development of this special programme for house committee members of basic education. It describes the processes adopted as well as the considerations that informed them.The development described below was carried out by a group of educators, teacher trainers, educational planners and administrators working together as a team. The emphasis here is on team work.

Step 1 – identify the essential core and content of the learning package.

To do this, the team had to answer the question – for a house member to lobby effectively for universal Basic education, to monitor Basic education provision, to provide oversight for basic education provision, to make laws for basic education, to move bills for basic education, to become an advocate for basic education, what does he or she need to know? Questions like this represent some form of indirect needs assessment. As is now well accepted, needs assessment is a necessary first step in the design of relevant learning experiences and packages.  Carried out in the form of a brain storming exercise by the design team, this exercise yielded the following three core knowledge needs/areas of vital learning

Policy framework for basic education – National   Policy   on   Education (NPE) 2013, normative framework for basic education provision

Nigeria and Universal Basic Education Programme (UBEP) – some history and Context and How UBEP works

Functions of House Committee on Education with regards to Universal Basic Education

These three core learning areas were examined and debated until consensus was achieved that they constituted the necessary, sufficient-Adequate and relevant tripod on which the learning package for House committee members could be built. It is important for us to remind ourselves here that necessity, sufficiency-adequacy and relevance are the prime determinants of correct choices in curriculum design.

Step 2 Conduct a task analysis and work breakdown of each of the elements of the legs of the tripod

The team agreed that the next step would demand that each leg of the tripod be now broken into its constituent parts. For this exercise, the writing team broke into three groups, with a group working on one of the tripods. At the end of the exercise, a plenary was conducted and the following sketch outlines were agreed upon for each of the three arms of the tripod.

Policy framework for basic education – National   Policy   on   Education (NPE) 2013, normative framework for basic education provision

  • The National Policy on Education (NPE) – policy thrust and specification and prescriptions by level
  • Normative frameworks influencing and guiding educational provosions- The Universal Declaration of Human rights, The UN Convention Rights of the Child, The African Union Charter on African Child, The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Ssustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • Data speaks – the importance of data in education planning and what current data says for each state
  • Key issues in Basic Education – Access, Participation, Retention, Completion, Quality and their indicators, Net versus Gross enrolment
  • Contending issues in basic education – Equity, Inclusion, Inclusion, Gender, Costs of Basic Education, Benefit of Basic Education, Externalities of Basic education, Out of School Children;
  • Things that make for quality education – learner, instructional, administrative, school plant, and environmental factors
  • Quality indicators in basic education delivery
  • Quality versus non – quality indicators in Basic Education

Nigeria and Universal Basic Education Programme (UBEP) – some history and Context and How UBEP works

  • National and global antecedents of UPE and UBE
  • The Regions and Education Ordinances 
  • UBE Legislative framework.
  • Education indicators
  • Education plans and levels – strategic plans versus operational plans
  • Effective schools – their attributes and things to look out when monitoring basic education
  • How to make schools effective
  • Obstacles in the implementation of Basic Education and Strategies to overcome them.
  • Example of successful implementation of basic education act from a comparable country and what this means for Nigeria  

Functions of House Committee on Education with regards to Universal Basic Education

  • Committee members and their roles and responsibilities to the basic education sub-sector
  • Skills required to discharge these roles and to function effectively
  • Revisit to core indicators that would guide the discharge of the roles and responsibilities of house committee members

Step 3

Constitute each of these tripods into a learning session and develop learning outcomes for each session


Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session, participants should be able to:



At the end of the session, House Committee Members should be able to:

Session 3


Members of the Education Committee have among their numerous functions the responsibility of oversight of education matters.  This responsibility involves ensuring a variety of outcomes in education through monitoring, supervision, advocating, lobbying for bills and laws by consultations, communication, negotiation, consensus and relationship building. 

At the end of the session, House Committee Members should be able to:

Step 4

Develop the learning package in line with steps 1-3 above

Step 5

Subject the output of step to peer review, critique and validation.

Validation of this training document was done through a live presentation with lawmakers from four states. Reception was positive and indeed enthusiastic. The writing team however also learnt a few lessons from active engagement and participation in the process for strategic planning and Programme implementation 

Lessons learnt

Some lessons were learnt in developing the training materials. These include the following:

importance of team work

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importance of context sensitive learning materials development

importance of peer review

the sobering truth that effective curriculum building as an interactive process

the fact that effective curriculum development is an iterative process

importance of stating clear and realistic learning outcomes


      Hood C. 1991. A public management for all seasons?, Public Administration. Vol. 69. No. 1

Gruening, G (2001) Origin and theoretical basis of New Public Management, International Public Management Journal 4,  1–25

Posted in Basic Education, Politics

Communication for Development (C4D) and its relevance to development across all sectors in general and to education in particular –

Talking points for the

CABE/C4D/GEP 3 workshop April 2019



Noel A. Ihebuzor, FSSD

  • What is C4D?
  • Fefer to processes, strategies, materials and activities conceived and executed to catalyze, galvanize, spur, support development efforts in a given polity
  • Is context sensitive and culture informed and incorporates elements of semiotics, marketing, journalism, sociology, psychology, metrics, monitoring and evaluation and business management.
  • Grew out of initial beginnings in audiovisual aids and then to IEC, through BCC and to full grown C4D
  • C4D is integrated and Deals with both the supply and demand side of development planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation 

Excerpt from Unicef

Communication for Development (C4D) is one of the most empowering ways of improving health, nutrition and other key social outcomes for children and their families.

In UNICEF, C4D is defined as a systematic, planned and evidence-based strategic process to promote positive and measurable individual behaviour and social change that is an integral part of development programmes, policy advocacy and humanitarian work.

C4D uses dialogue and consultation with, and participation of children, their families and communities. It privileges local contexts and relies on a mix of communication tools, channels and approaches. C4D is not public relations or corporate communications.

C4D seeks to accelerate achievement of key results in UNICEF’s Medium-term Strategic Plan (MTSP) for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by:

Increasing knowledge and awarenessImproving and building new skillsMaintaining and increasing demand for products and servicesImproving the performance of service providers Changing individual behaviors and collective practicesInfluencing attitudes, social norms and power relationshipsEnhancing self-esteem and promoting self-efficacyChanging national and local policies and legislation
  • Basic education needs C4D but according to the consultant C4D is under-represented in education unlike in medicine
  • And Education?
  • Education is core to development 
  • Education confers so many benefits
  • The unplanned benefits are known as externalities 
  • Externalities include increased earning ability, poverty reduction, break in intergenerational transmission of poverty, drop in fertility, rise in literacy etc
  • EDUCATION at both global and local levels is characterized by issues of gender based, social class related and location induced disparities
  • Too many kids of the poor are out of school for a host of reasons
  • Too many kids in rural areas are out of school – economics, culture, patriarchy, male child preference, parental poverty, ignorance, superstition, religious zeal?
  • Key issues in education are ACCESS, QUALITY & ACCOUNTABILITY 
  • Access issues include limited number in schools OOSCI, absence of school space, low NER and GER, NAR,  plus the distance that drive these – fees, distance to school, safety issues
  • Quality issues deal with instructional materials and teacher factors in school including teacher training, teacher numbers, and time spent on teaching, curriculum, methods and methodology and a host of CFS related issues
  • Accountability challenges relate to general governance issues, stakeholder engagement, school supervision, duty bearer failures – eg not mobilizing communities, not creating awareness, poor service delivery, rights holders not asking for their rights, the externalizing of responsibilities, ignorance, weakness, sloppiness, failures in attendance monitoring, teacher management and general incentives,
  • The general theory on which the study is designed around is that all of these are amenable to improvement through C4D
  • Is the pitch for Integrating Koranic schools a red herring? What of quality issues involved?
  • Study also looks at the mapping of current C4D interventions and suggests how synergies can be achieved through better stakeholder coordination and dialogue 
Posted in Uncategorized

12 Lessons in Life – copied

Stay Away from Anger, it hurts only you!
It doesn’t solve anything.
It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything. 2

If you are right then there is no need to get angry, and if you are wrong then you don’t have any right to get angry. 3

Patience with family is love, Patience with others is respect, Patience with self is confidence and Patience with God is faith. 4

Never think hard about the PAST, it brings tears….
Don’t think about the FUTURE, it brings fear….
Live this moment with a smile, it brings cheers. 5

Every test in our life makes us bitter or better. Every problem comes to make us or break us. The choice is ours whether we become victims or victors. 6

Do you know why God created gaps between fingers?
So that someone who is special to you comes and fills those gaps by holding your hand till God’s appointed time. 7

God has sent us all in pairs, someone somewhere is made for you. So wait for the right time and right moment. 8

A satisfied life is better than a successful life because our success is measured by others. But our satisfaction is measured by our own soul, mind & heart. 9

Life is like a notebook.
Two pages are already written by God.
First page is birth. Last page is Death. Center pages are empty. So, fill them with SMILE & LOVE. 10

Life is beautiful.
One day, one hour and one minute spent, will not come again in your entire life. Avoid fights, anger and speak lovely to every person. 11

Nothing is permanent.
Don’t stress yourself too much because no matter how bad the situation is, it will change. 12

Life is an echo.
What you send out, comes back.
What you sow, you reap.
What you give, you get.
What you see in others, exists in you.
Don’t judge – so you will not be judged. Radiate and give love and love will come back to you.::.

Posted in Uncategorized


Cheta Nwanze at his very best! A penetrating and revealing piece – a must read!

Last year I took my friend and partner, Tunde Leye to my homestead. In going to that area, we did not cross the Niger River (Oshimmiri in my native dialect) the way most people cross it these days. Rather, we went the old way. We took a boat from Cable Point (Ikpele Nmili) in Asaba, and 12 minutes later, we were sharing a beer with some of my acquaintances at Onicha Marine. You see, for those who know the history, Asaba and Onitsha, prior to the building of the bridge, both communities were quite closeknit, something we’ll discuss later on today.

The third point in the dictionary definition of a mongrel is “any cross between different things, especially if inharmonious or indiscriminate.”

This is the classic definition of the Igbo people, something I wrote about six years ago. The Igbo people came from different parts of what is today’s Nigeria, and settled in the area that they now call home. This, centuries worth of migration, mixing and consolidation, was anything but harmonious or planned. However, further research has shown me that some of what I wrote then was incomplete, but I will refrain from saying “wrong”, because I am unfit to untie Elizabeth Isichei’s shoelaces, and it was from her 1976 work, A History of the Igbo People, that I drew heavily for that piece.

As an aside, I think it’s time for me to do my first social media appeal. Is anyone willing to finance me to go and sit with her in New Zealand once this pandemic is over? She lives there now, and she is such a repository of Igbo history. She was born in 1939 which means that at 81, the window for a comprehensive debrief of the stuff which didn’t make any of her three books that focused on the Igbo people is closing…

Let me go back to topic.

In the last few days there has been a lot of argument on Twitter about whether the Igbo speaking people of Delta State in Nigeria are Igbo, or something called Anioma. Some people from this area have pointed out that they have been victims of taunts by some Igbos from the East of the Niger, who have themselves said that Delta Igbos are not Igbo.

Both sides of this argument are right, but one tweet I saw was an outright lie. There is no one from the East who will call a native Anioma person “Onye ofe mmanụ. That particular slur is reserved for Yoruba people as the thinking behind that stereotype is that the Yoruba people cannot cook, but rather drown their soups in oil and pepper to cover the lack of culinary skills. My pot belly can tell you that that stereotype is way off, but that is another topic for another day…

The words used for the various peoples of the former Bendel are as follows — Ndị Ika to describe the Igbo speaking peoples of the Midwest; Ndị Idu to describe the Bini people; Ndị ohu (a slur) to describe the Esan people (and the history of this is actually linked to Benin); Ndị Usobo to describe those in the “proper Delta”, that is the Ijaw, Ijekiri, Isoko and Urhobo.

Now, the problem with most of Nigeria, is that we do not know where we are coming from. Generally, if you do not know where you’re coming from, it’s kinda hard to know where you’re going to.

Too many Igbo people both East and West of the Niger, do not know where they are coming from. Referring back to the piece I highlighted earlier, I pointed out that, “ The Anioma sub-group is divided into two, Enuani and Ukwuani. Enuani and Onitsha people migrated from Igala along with Ishan.” This is incomplete.

In the intervening years, I’ve had discussions with older men in Onitsha, Idumuje-Ogboko, Onicha Ugbo, Atani, Obosi, Issele Azagba and Ibusa, and built a more complete profile. Yes, some Onitsha people indeed came from the Igala area, but most claim their ancestry from around Benin (possibly from what is now called Igbanke), who fled East sometime in the 16th Century to escape the wrath of Oba Esigie. These people, under their leader, Eze Chima, founded a number of towns along the way — Ọnicha Ugbo, Ọnicha Ọlọna, Issele Uku, Issele Azagba, and then one of their number crossed the great river, and settled at Ọnicha Mmiri, which is today known simply as Ọnicha, or as the British colonists three centuries later transcribed it, Onitsha.

Now, to cross to what became Onitsha, that band of Ụmụ Eze Chima (children of Eze Chima) must have crossed the river at the closest point where the water is calmest. From the area that was called Ikpele Nmili by the natives, but was rechristened Cable Point by the British when they set up their communication channel there soon after decimating the population of Asaba. These Ụmụ Eze Chima were helped too cross by the locals who had themselves settled there two generations earlier under the leadership of Nnebisi, who had himself left his hometown, Nteje in today’s Anambra State. Nteje itself has Igala origins, and I have an appointment with the Eje of Ankpa in today’s Kogi state, to discuss this relationship (note the title of their traditional ruler — Eje, and then relate it to Nteje)…

According to Dennis Osadebey in the book, Building A Nation, Nnebisi was the son of an Nteje woman, Diaba, who had gotten pregnant for an Igala man, Ojobo. Nnebisi grew up in Nteje thinking he was of the kindred, but one day, after a quarrel, he was told that his father was not from there, so he could not take part in land sharing. He thus left Nteje with his followers, and followed a route which brought him to the great river.

If you look at a map of those areas, it is quite easy to trace the route taken by Nnebisi, which must have taken him through Nsugbe, and then along the Anambra River (Ọma Mbala), and then to the point where the Anambra River joins the Niger River. That precise point where the Anambra River joins the Niger River, is coincidentally, the precise point where you can take an eight minute boat ride and land at Cable Point in Asaba.

Nnebisi and his people crossed, landed at Ikpele Nmili and decided to plant their crops there for the year, given that planting season was just starting. A year later, they were pleasantly surprised to find how good their harvest was (of course the area is rich in alluvial soils brought from upstream by the river), so they decided not to move from there. Nnebisi called the place Ani Ahaba (We have settled in this land), and four hundred years later, some white chap hearing the name that the natives called their land, wrote “Asaba” in his map, and not Ahaba.

That man was Carlo Zappa, an Italian priest who was appointed Prefect of the Upper Niger by the Catholic Church to build the faithful in the region. He spent a lot of time converting the natives in both Asaba and Onitsha, and all the way to Ojoto, East of the Niger, and Agbor, West of the Niger. A look through Catholic records during the era of the Ekumeku resistance will show that at the turn of the century, most of the Catholic priests in what is now the Diocese of Issele Uku in Delta State, came from the Onitsha area, as they were all under the same ecclesiastical province. These records are still available.

A look at the roll call of the dead from the Aba Women’s affair of 1929, shows that the wife of the Sanitary headman in the Opobo area, was from Asaba, which kind of tells you the direction in which people went in the decades leading up to the split of Southern Nigeria into East and West in 1954. Up until that point in 1954, many from the Igbo speaking areas just west of the Niger River, found it easier to cross the river to do their business. And why not?
The distance between Asaba and Owerri is just 102km. Asaba to Enugu is 125km, while Asaba to Umuahia is 142km. All of these places are closer to Asaba than Warri, which in modern Nigerian geopolitics is in the same state as Asaba. Warri is 176km from Asaba. The Asaba man, when he arrives in either of Enugu, Owerri or Umuahia, speaks the same language as the people in those places, barring the normal dialectal differences that occur in languages that are spread over large geographical areas. This same Asaba man, would arrive in Warri, and would be at a complete loss as to what the native in Warri is saying…

Referring back to Dennis Osadebe, I’ll recommend that any young Anioma person who wants to learn his history should find Osadebe’s book, Building A Nation, and read it. Osadebe understood where he was coming from, and was unequivocal about it. Thus it was that he joined first the Asaba Union, then by sheer force of will helped to coalese it into the Western Ibo Union, and then by 1939, he was the General Secretary of the Ibo Union. He joined OBN Eluwa on his trip around both Eastern and Western Igboland between 1947 and 1953, a trip which created the Igbo identity that we know today (until 1966) at least.
Osadebe was at the forefront of agitation to remove the Asaba Division from the Benin Province to which it had been joined in 1931 and either rejoin it to the Onitsha Province where it had been prior, or create a province of its own. Of course that agitation fell flat in 1954 once the Southern Region was split into East and West, but being a pragmatic fellow, Osadebe teamed up with his Benin and Delta Division neighbours to campaign for the creation of the Midwest Region, a campaign which succeeded in 1963 with Osadebe becoming premier of the region. Even at that, Osadebe maintained his close relations with his kin from across the river, and thus it was that when war broke out four years later, more than any other, Osadebe’s people, from Asaba, bore the biggest blow that any town in Nigeria faced, the Asaba Massacre of 1967.
This was where things began to take a negative turn for the Midwestern Igbo identity. In 1964, a brilliant and ambitious 30-year old from Asaba joined the public service. Phillip Asiodu, an Oxford graduate who spoke Yoruba as a first languge, rose very fast and by mid-1966 as Nigeria was melting down around everyone, was already a Permanent Secretary in the federal civil service. Unfortunately, he faced the same mistrust that every Midwest Igbo faced in Nigeria of the time: where did his loyalties lie? With Nigeria, or with the rebels? He chose Nigeria, and as tends to be the case with people who have to prove themselves, showed his loyalty to Nigeria only too well.

Asiodu was the one who adviced Gowon to renege from the Aburi Accord when he pointed out that Ojukwu had outmanouvered Gowon in that meeting in Ghana. The moment Gowon reneged on that deal, war became inevitable. The war had a personal effect on Asiodu as his brother Sidney, a well known prize winning athlete, was killed during the Asaba Massacre in 1967. But Asiodu kept his head down, and remained firmly Nigerian, and non-Igbo. That was the birth of the split in identity. A people defeated in war have a tendency to bow their heads. Those who can, reject being members of that defeated group. So it is no surprise that those Igbos who could (borderlands) decided that they no longer wanted to be Igbo. Midwest Igbos created a new identity to the extent that the town of Igbo Akiri changed its name to Igbanke, and its most prominent son, Samuel Chiedu Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, who along with Alexander Madiebo narrowly escaped death in the July 1966 coup, dropped “Chiedu” from his name entirely, and emphasised Osaigbovo. To be honest, I cannot hold people responsible for such behaviours. The city of Gdansk in Poland was once called Danzig, and it was in Germany…
Going back to Dennis Osadebe, after the war, some prominent Igbos including Osadebe banded together to try and resurrect the Igbo Progressive Union which had been proscribed by Aguiyi-Ironsi in 1966. So they formed the Igbo National Assembly who’s stated goal was to unify Igbos under a common umbrella body. In no time, the INA was banned by the FG, but by 1976, shortly after the murder of Murtala Mohammed, they tried again, and this time, went the route of a socio-cultural organisation. Thus Ohaneze Ndị Igbo was born, and one of the original signatories to the Ohaneze charter was Dennis Osadebe. Along with Ben Nwabueze, and a few others whose names I don’t recall. Osadebe knew that the place of the Midwestern Igbo in Nigeria’s geopolitics would always be with his kin from across the river, and he always acted accordingly. Osadebe was the one who coined the term Anioma, as the entry region of the Midwestern Igbos into Ohaneze. Some of these things are simple to check out, for example, the expression “Anioma” does not appear in any document predating 1975.

The funny thing is that by 1992, even Asiodu who was perhaps most directly responsible for the identity crisis facing his people, had come around, and along with some notable people from Anioma, wrote a letter to the military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida asking him to take Anioma out of Delta state, excise Onitsha and Atani from Anambra state, and create an Anioma state which would have been a part of what is now the South-East geopolitical zone. The signatories to that letter, dated 15 June 1992 where as follows: Nnamdi Azikiwe, Owelle Onicha; Dennis Osadebe, Ojiba Ahaba; Phllip Asiodu, Izoma Ahaba; Anthony Modebe, Ogene Onicha; Ben Nwabueze (from Atani in Anambra state); Chukwuma Ijomah (from Aboh in Delta state); and Ukpabi Asika. BIC Ijomah died just over a month ago, so of all the sages who signed that letter, only Ben Nwabuee and Phillip Asiodu are still with us, and for whatever reason, IBB did not act on the letter.

What is the lesson from Chief Asiodu’s apparent turnaround?

Once your name is Emeka (figurative of course), Nigeria will always happen to you.
That is what people like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala understand.

That is what people like Austin Okocha understand.

That is what great men like Osadebe, Ijomah, Achuzia, and eventually Asiodu, understood.

The truth is that based on our history, the Anioma man never saw the Niger River as a barrier. As a matter of fact, just read Chinua Achebe’s Chike And The River, and you’ll get a sense of how people used to cris-cross the river at that salient point before the bridge was built. The remnants are still there today. Cable Point projects into the river, it is clearly an old market, and Onitsha Marine also projects into the river. That is the original location of the famous Onitsha Market. Has any one from Onitsha ever stopped to ask himself why the Basilica of Holy Trinity was built basically a few metres away from the river at Onitsha Marine? Cross the river to Asaba and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is in an almost identical position. Both churches were built about the same time, commissioned by the same man, Carlo Zappa.

How else do you explain that the dialect of Igbo spoken in Asaba, and that spoken in Onitsha, are the same language?
In the end, the Anioma man, because Biafra lost a war 50 years ago, may deny his identity all he wants, but it will not change the fact — in the Byzantine politics of Nigeria, the day will come when Nigeria will tell you who you are.

I think that is the one thing Nigeria never fails at.

Once your name is Emeka, or Chike, or Nnamdi, or Uju, or Chukwuma, or Obi, or Ogechukwu, or Ekwi, or Azuka, or Ike, or Nonso, or Ifeanyi, or indeed Cheta, the day will come, when Nigeria will tell you who you are. Don’t be caught flat footed.

For the Igbos from the East, never forget some facts — the most effective Biafran diplomat during the war was Raphael Uwechue, Oguluzeme Ogwashi-Uku. The majority of the weapons that were supplied to Biafra came from France, and it was his efforts. Almost all of the CARITAS flights that saved starving Biafran children, had his fingerprints on them. Plus the fact that Emeka Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi got out of Biafra in the end and spent 12 years in exile in a French speaking country, was due to his diplomatic efforts. Raphael Chukwu Uwechue was also President-General of Ohaneze Ndị Igbo for four years. Ndị Anioma, that was your son.

Also, Igbos from the East, never forget that the successful commander of Biafran forces during the war was Joseph Achuzia, Ikemba Ahaba. From 4 October 1967 to 12 October 1967, he prevented Nigerian forces from successfully crossing the Niger River. The Nigerians could only establish a bridgehead at Onitsha Marine before they were beaten back by Achuzia. This defeat was one of the things that led to the massacre of his kinsmen in Asaba on 7 October 1967. On 31 March 1968, Achuzia directed Jona Uchendu’s company of about 700 men in what became Biafra’s most spectacular success of the war, the Abagana Ambush. In that event, 700 Biafran men defeated a Nigerian force of 6000 men. Only 100 Nigerian soldiers, including Murtala Mohammed survived. It was after that action that Murtala did not take part in the war again. Achuzia who died two years ago, was also an Anioma son.

Edit: Ben Nwabueze is still alive. He also signed the 1992 letter I referred to.