Ukwa And The Marginalization Within

It is so loud and clear so much so that the blind could see, the deaf will hear, the echoes of unmitigated exploitation, suppression and marginalization that have been the lots of Ukwa land, one of the acclaimed harbingers of the oil wealth of the contraption called Nigeria.

Its fate has not been totally different from those of other oil-bearing communities. They all have in common the enviable status of hosting the most viable economic variables that propel the heart of the Nigerian economy.

Yet, their misfortune is as defining and weighty as their natural endowment. Their story has been that of a richly endowed entity that is perennially dining with misery, poverty and general deprivation all in the main due to systemic and Nigerian elite conspiracy. That lack of basic amenities of life and serial infrastructural deficit, have continued to define the existence of most of the country’s oil producing communities several years after the discovery of the black gold is no longer debatable.

But the story of Ukwa appears somewhat unique, apart from having to contend with externally induced marginalization, clearly epitomized by lack of basic amenities and sometimes criminal exclusion from the scheme of things in Abia state, the people have had to battle a more fiendish internal oppressive force. And like the popular saying that family feud destroys faster than external ones, Ukwa’s internal oppressive forces remain more potent with not a few perceiving them as the real threat to the very survival of the people.

Here the issue of the political marginalization of the Asa ethnic nationality by its kiths and kin from the Ndoki axis remain instructive.

For one, since the advent of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, the Ndonki people of Ukwa East have been lording it over their Asa brethren in Ukwa West LGA cornering almost all the political positions on offer.

The peak of which was the production of the erstwhile Senate President, Sen Adolphus Nwagbara, former Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly and currently the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chairman in the state, Dr Asiforo Okere as well as several others.

This is not to forget the very pathetic scenario in which the Ndokis have been calling the short at the House of Representatives in the last 16-years. In fact, the political diadem has turned out to be a family inheritance where the baton is passed from brother to brother. Or how else will one describe the situation, where by Chief Uzoma Abonta, after uninterrupted16 years at the Green Chamber, his party the PDP will still find it expedient to domicile the position, not just in Ndoki, Ukwa East but in the same family?

Against deafening outcry by the Asa people to all political parties in Abia to pick their House of Representative flagbearers from the Asa end for the sake of equity and justice, PDP did not just ignore the sensibilities of the people, but went as far as picking Chief Chris Nkwonta, the elder sibling of the outgoing Hon member representing the Ukwa West/East federal constituency, Chief Uzoma Abonta.

Here again, it is instructive to note that most of all the major political platforms in the state except the PDP picked their candidates from Asa in deference to the feelings and aspirations of the people.

Yet, many watchers of the political marginalization of the Asa ethnic nationality by their Ndoki brethren may not altogether be surprised at the disposition of the PDP. After all the party has been presiding over such monumental political heist over one nationality against the other since 1999. What is however confounding is how Asa has managed to box itself into this political corner, despite its superior numerical strength. If democracy remains a game of numbers, which it is then, Asa should locate the cause of its political woes not in their gods but in themselves. For either there are official conspiracies and or internal sabotage or even both to foist a situation where the majority tribe will be crying of being marginalized by one in minority. It therefore behoves the Asa people to interrogate the root causes of their plight. It is also time for their elites and other stakeholders to make a choice between the quest for fleeting and most times filthy personal Lucre’s and the exaction of the existential values of their unborn generations. This they can do by leveraging on the rare opportunity provided by the forthcoming general elections.

In the same vein, all men and women of good conscience from Ndoki can also use the forthcoming elections to form a strong wall of unity with their Asa brothers and sisters by appreciating and respecting their sensibilities.

What Ukwa land needs most now to ward off external oppressors and exploitative forces is unity of purpose, oneness and cohesion. Until that is achieved the ever-lurking divisive tendencies will continue to see Ukwa land as a playground and its people as mere pawns on a chess board.

It is totally unexplainable for the PDP in the state which has stared up a raging inferno by distorting the existing power sharing formula anchored on senatorial district, just to address perceived injustice to the Old Aba division, not to see a bigger injustice and lack of equity in imposing on Ukwa people not just another person from the same tribe, but from the same blood line after16-years on the same position. There is nothing more unjust than to give a property meant to be shared by two brothers to only one of them. Anybody and or system that encourages and promotes such is not to be trusted by the people.

Frank Ajuzieogu, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Umuahia.

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