Ebonyi State -The Salt of the Nation: The Pride of the East Nigeria

Ebonyi Salt

Rainbow is an image many have described as beautiful due to its variant colours. The same could be said of Ebonyi State (the Salt of the Nation) due to its many colours, in terms of peoples, culture, dialects, and distinct worldviews. It is in this diversity that the state of Ebonyi finds pride, beauty, and strength. It is an undisputable fact that Ebonyi State is the most peaceful state at least in the southeast, despite our diversity in tongues and culture. Above all, we pride ourselves in our propensity for uprightness, integrity, value based social engagement, and in pursuit of common good. Professor Nnenna Oti, the current Vice Chancelor of FUTO is a typical example of who we are and the values we treasure as a people.

Ebonyi state is one of the five states of the southeastern Nigeria. It was created on October 1, 1996, by the General Sani Abacha military government. It is among the youngest and latest states created in Nigeria. The state was carved out of Enugu and Abia States. The Abakaliki block of the state came from Enugu state while the Afikpo block came from Abia state. Though different peoples in terms of culture, dialects, and worldview, we have successfully forged ahead, created a common identity and purpose, and accepted each other as one people. The Afikpo block has five local government areas; three from old Ohaozara LGA and two are from old Afikpo LGA. The Abakaliki block has eight local government areas. The constituent communities in each of these major blocks are alike, and generally, understand each other fairly well concerning dialects, traditions, and the type of food consumed.

In Afikpo block/zone the major communities are Afikpo, Amasiri, Edda, Okposi, Uburu, and Ugwulangwu, Onicha, Isu, Ukawu, Ishagu, and Akaeze, whereas in Abakaliki block, we have Ezza, Izzi, Ikwo, and others. Ezza and Izzi communities are the largest communities in Ebonyi state, each with at least two local governments areas, while other communities in Ebonyi state are combined to make a local government. Of the three senatorial districts in the state, the Abakaliki block has two while Afikpo block has one. The state has had three indigenous governors since its creation, two of the governors came from Abakaliki zone while one, the current and outgoing governor is from Afikpo zone. The incoming governor, Chief Francis Nwifuru is also from Abakaliki zone.

Many citizens of Ebonyi state are farmers and traders. They specialize in rice, yam, cassava, cereals such as corn and different types of vegetable farming. The Staple foods for the inhabitants are yam, cassava made food, rice, and assorted vegetables. Compared with Cross River state, the farmlands in Ebonyi state are not as much fertile. Our farmers are hard workers, but their returns are hardly reciprocatory, possibly due to heavy presence of salt and stones on our soil. The soil in Abakaliki zone is littered with stones while the lands in Afikpo zone are heavily ladened with salt. These challenges exist, yet our farmers are leaders in rice and yam production. Abakaliki rice is a familiar phrase in Nigerian homes.

The people of Ebonyi state also pride themselves in many other reputable endeavours such as education, commerce, arts, and culture. Dr Akanu Ibiam, the Eze Ogo Isiala I of Unwana was the first African medical graduate of the University of St. Andrews Scotland in 1934. He was also the Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria from December 1960 until January 1966 during the Nigerian First Republic. He renounced his two knighthoods (awarded in 1951 and 1960 by the British monarch) in protest against British support for the Nigerian federal government (DACB, n.d). That speaks volume of our uprightness and sense of justice for common good. Mr. Ofia Nwali was the first black man to obtain PhD in computer and analytical studies from Harvard University, United States of America (Premium Times, May 24, 2016). Nwali Sylvester Ngwu was a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Dr Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu was not only the first executive governor of old Abia state and the former minister of Science & Technology, but also a super highflyer and uncommon achiever. He graduated with first class honour degree in chemical engineering at the University of Lagos and obtained PhD in Chemical Engineering (without passing through a master’s degree) at the University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, in 1980, where he did extensive work on coal liquefaction and production of synthetic fuels under mild conditions. He demonstrated that it was possible under relatively mild conditions to produce synthetic fuels comparable with crude oil, and Dr Jude Obasi (The first African to become a judge in New Jersey, the United States).

Time and space will fail me to showcase more professional giants in different fields from Ebonyi state origin. Meanwhile, Nigerians and Ndigbo may not forgive me if I fail to bring to everyone’s awareness that the following figures are the sons and daughters of our beloved state: Chief Anyim Pius Anyim (former president of the Nigerian Senate), Uche Azikiwe (professor and pioneer first lady of Nigeria and widow of Nigeria’s first president, Nnamdi Azikiwe), Aja Nwachukwu (First Nigeria minister of education), Dr Icha Ituma (former SSG & Deputy governor Old Enugu state), Sinach (world renowned gospel singer), Patoranking (global singer, songwriter, and dancer), Tekno (the king of Afrobeats, hip-hops, R & B), Chacha Eke (actress & Nollywood superstar), Women Leader (Sir One on One) the funniest comedian and content creator in Nigeria, and Debbie Ugochukwu Collins, Miss World 2016 Nigeria representative. Space is the enemy here, else, there are so many other iconic figures shaping the globe narratives who hail from Ebonyi state.

Ebonyi State has a rich cultural heritage. This is expressed in the many colorful cultural dances, folklore, and artwork, some of which have attracted national and international attention. The popular Nkwa Umuagbogho Dance Group of Afikpo has won several national and international merit awards. Others are Nkwa Nwite of Afikpo, Ojianyalere of Amasiri and many more. Two major festivals take place annually in Ebonyi: New Yam festival and theDance Parade by Masquerades. Few tourist sites in Ebonyi state deserve special mention:

Amanchor Cave, Amanchor Edda

The Amanchor cave is one of the longest caves in Africa. It is about 4 kilometres long and 3 metres high. The cave has several tunnels that lead to different towns making it accessible from Afikpo, Abakaliki, Ngusu and Akaeze. Some cultural activities, including the Orie-Ogba festival take place in the cave.

Mmahi Ezi Salt Lake, Okposi

The Mmahi Ezi Salt Lake was discovered about 400 years by hunters in search of water. The women process the salt using instructions said to have been issued by the goddess Mmahi. It has served as the economic base for most of the women in rural communities. It was an important source of salt for the eastern region during the Nigerian-Biafran war.

Greater Rice Husks, Abakaliki

The Greater Rice Husks look like sand dunes in the desert when piled into heaps during the processing of rice.

Though one of the youngest states in Nigeria, Ebonyi state has been blessed with visionary Governors who have turned the fortune of the state to great stories.  In just about 26 years of its existence, Ebonyi state is a home of three universities; two federal and one state, one federal polytechnic, and three colleges of education; two federal and one state. It is worthy of note that the University of Medical Sciences Uburu was the first of its kind in Nigeria when it was built and the best in terms of infrastructure in West Africa. Now the Nigeria federal government has approved additional five universities of medical sciences to the remaining five geopolitical zones in Nigeria, thanks to the visionary leadership of Ebonyi state. Of all the states in Nigeria, Ebonyi state is number one in the number of flyover bridges, except Lagos and Abuja that are the former and current FCT. As if the above are not astounding enough, Ebonyi state, the least Federal allocation recipient in the country, has constructed the best Airport in Nigeria after Lagos and Abuja, in less than three years. The grapevine has it that the federal government will soon take over the airport as one of the federal airports in the southeastern Nigeria, just as it took over the University of medical sciences. The Olympic size stadium started about a year ago will be ready for use by the May 29 inauguration of the new political leaders of the state. YouTube could assist you confirm my claims.

It is no longer in doubt that the proverbial wise men from the east are all from Ebonyi state. Ebonyi state has demonstrated uncommon leadership as per vision and excellence. We the Ebonyi people are proud of our strides so far and the trajectory of our future. All hail the wise people from the east.

Written by,

Chimaobi Irem

Former Secretary Ebonyi State Association Canada.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *